New poll shows Md. Gov. Hogan with advantage over Democratic candidates

WASHINGTON — It’s still two months before the June Democratic primary decides who his challenger is, but at this moment Republican Gov. Larry Hogan continues to be in a good spot as he battles for re-election in a heavily Democratic state.

Overall, 69 percent of respondents either approve or strongly approve of the job Hogan is doing, according to a new poll from the Goucher College Sarah Hughes Field Politics Center, which evaluated Hogan’s performance and also pitted him against each of the seven Democrats hoping to challenge him this fall.

About 42 percent of Marylanders say they think the economy is better today than it was four years ago. Even more respondents — 53 percent — say the state is moving in the right direction, though that number is still down nearly 10 points from just a few months ago.

Polling director Mileah Kromer acknowledged that may be influenced by politics at the national level.

About 70 percent of respondents said they either strongly disapprove or disapprove of the way President Donald Trump is handling his job as president.

The latest survey shows that Hogan is viewed as a moderate Republican whom residents trust more than Democratic leaders on issues like the economy (49 percent to 35 percent); taxes (47 percent to 35 percent); and crime (48 to 32 percent). Democratic leaders have an advantage when it comes to education (44 percent to 37 percent) and the environment (47 percent to 34 percent).

The numbers suggest whichever Democrat wins the June primary will have their work cut out for them.

If the polling holds, “Against each one of those Democratic challengers, Larry Hogan is going to get right around in the mid-40s in terms of vote share,” Kromer said. “And the Democratic candidates are going to range anywhere from the low 30s to the mid 20s. And something around a quarter of Marylanders really just don’t know who they’re going to vote for in this election.”

At the time the poll was conducted, the two Democrats closest to Hogan were Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and former NAACP head Ben Jealous. In head-to-head matchups, both Baker and Jealous garnered 31 percent to Hogan’s 44 percent.

Hogan had 20-point leads against tech entrepreneur Alec Ross, attorney Jim Shea and former Michellel Obama adviser Krish Vignarajah.

The margin of error was plus or minus 4.6 percent.

“First and foremost, we are really far out from the November election and this is just a snapshot of where we are right now,” Kromer cautioned. “And really, there’s a lot of name recognition to be made up among those Democratic challengers.”

“What we haven’t seen from them yet is any full-scale statewide advertising in terms of radio or in terms of television, and so when that finally starts to kick into gear you’ll see their name recognition certainly kick up and I think we’ll see some interesting fluctuation in this race between Gov. Hogan and a Democratic challenger.”

While Hogan is in a strong position for re-election, Kromer warned an April poll is far from a crystal ball for November.

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