Early polling suggests challenges in Gov. Larry Hogan’s re-election bid

Despite Gov. Larry Hogan's approval rating and the "likely Republican"-leaning race, according to pundits, early polling suggests that Hogan may not win a second term. In this July 13, 2017, file photo, Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan addresses the "Chinese General Chamber of Commerce Lunch" during the first day of the National Governor's Association meeting, in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)

WASHINGTON — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has maintained high marks around the state, but popularity does not necessarily mean reelection.

Despite his approval rating, early polling suggests that Hogan may not win a second term, though pundits said Maryland’s gubernatorial race is “likely Republican.” 

The newest polling from Goucher College’s Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center shows Hogan has an approval rating of 61 percent, which should help him.

But only 47 percent of those surveyed said they’re leaning toward or definitely going to vote for Hogan this November and 43 percent signaled their intention to vote for a Democrat this fall.

“I’ve always said this: Partisans like to come home,” said polling director Mileah Kromer. “It’s a lot easier to get individuals to vote for their own party affiliation than to vote against it, so in that way, Gov. Hogan always has a steep electoral mountain to climb. And so what we see reflected in our numbers is, while a lot of people might not know the Democrat they prefer in the gubernatorial race, they do know that — at least 43 percent know — that they want to vote or lean toward a Democrat.”

The next four months could be some of the most influential on the race leading up to the general election in November.

Nearly half of the Democrats polled haven’t made up their mind about who they intend to vote for in the June primary.

The Goucher Poll suggests Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker would claim his party’s nomination, but he is only registering at 19 percent. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz checks in with 12 percent, and former NAACP director Ben Jealous has 10 percent.

Those numbers will obviously change as voters start to focus in on the race and identify the candidate who matches up best with their ideology.

“Once these candidates become a little better known, the people will shake out and decide who best represents them,” said Kromer. “There are still a lot of ‘I can’t decide or I don’t know’ even among those sort of I guess what you’d call front-runners.”

While Democrats are currently unsure of who they’ll vote for in the primary, there are some indications as to what type of candidate would do well in a Democratic primary.

When asked how they identify on the political spectrum, 44 percent of Democrats called themselves progressive Democrats, 43 percent called themselves moderate Democrats, and 10 percent view themselves as more conservative Democrats.

Even though Democrats hold a 2-1 advantage in terms of registration in Maryland, Hogan took office with more than 51 percent of the vote in 2014, meaning a small number of Democrats had to cross party lines to vote for him.

Nearly half of the people polled in Maryland view Hogan as a moderate Republican, so whether a progressive, moderate or conservative Democrat wins the primary could determine whether Hogan’s path to re-election gets easier or harder in the coming months.

“For Gov. Hogan, when we figure out how strong or weak he is against a Democratic challenger is when we really sort of see a Democratic challenger emerge,” Kromer said. “Moving [to] a specific person instead of a generic Democrat … then we’ll have a much better picture.”

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