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Poll: Marylanders solidly behind Hogan, but in no hurry for a Trump challenge

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan (R) invited former Florida governor and prominent anti-Trumper Jeb Bush (left) to speak his inauguration ceremony in January. (Courtesy MDGovpics)

This article was written by WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters and republished with permission. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

Maryland residents continue to hold Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) in high regard, viewing him as capable, likable and honest — and they approve of the direction in which the state is headed, according to a new survey.

But even among Republicans, there is a lack of enthusiasm for Hogan to take on President Trump in 2020.

The poll, conducted by the political science department at Goucher College, found that 69 percent of Maryland residents approve of the way Hogan has handled his position over the last five years.

That number is in line with past surveys, and it accounts for why he consistently ranks as one of the most popular governors in the nation. In most surveys, Hogan comes in second, behind another blue state Republican, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts.

Though Hogan has always been popular among Democrats and independents, his current approval numbers with those groups — 65 percent among Democrats and 71 percent among independents — continue to be remarkable measures in a time of intense polarization.

“In a world of scorched-earth politics, Governor Hogan enters his second term an exception to the rule,” said political science professor Stephen J. Farnsworth, a scholar at the University of Mary Washington. “If Republicans could clone him, they absolutely should do so.”

Goucher surveyed 808 state residents Feb. 7-12. The poll has a margin of error of 3.4 points.

Huge majorities said they believe Hogan “keeps his promises,” “cares about the needs of people like you” and “works well with both parties to get things done,” according to the survey.

Nearly three in five Maryland residents told Goucher’s polling team that the state is heading in the right direction. Twenty-five percent said Maryland is on the wrong track. Those numbers are little changed from recent surveys.

In a related metric, respondents overwhelmingly said they “trust” state government, with 73 percent saying they have “some” or total trust in the state, and 22 percent saying they have little or no trust.

As united as Marylanders are when it comes to Hogan, they are divided on Trump.

Nine percent of Democrats and a third of independents approve of Trump’s job performance. Republicans, meantime, remain solidly in his camp, with 69 percent approving and 26 percent opposed.

Trump’s overall numbers in Maryland are under water, with 30 percent voicing approval and 66 percent expressing disapproval.

“Maryland Republicans — they’re just like national Republicans,” said Mileah K. Kromer, a Goucher College political science professor and director of the Goucher Poll.

While Marylanders are solidly pro-Hogan, they are in no hurry to see him test the waters in 2020, despite efforts by some anti-Trump activists to generate support for him.

One in three Marylanders want to see Hogan run for the White House next year. Fifty-five percent do not.

There is little partisan skew to the numbers on this issue. Support for “Hogan 2020” is 35 percent among GOP voters, 31 percent among independents and 32 percent among Democrats.

“Among Republicans there is likely a fear that a Hogan nomination campaign would not be successful and it would weaken President Trump going into the general,” Farnsworth said.

In addition, there is the prospect of the newly elected Hogan being away from Annapolis — and distracted — for many months.

“You can’t really leave a state office on auto-pilot the way you can a [U.S.] Senate office,” Farnsworth said.

Residents polled by Goucher were asked to identify the issue they consider the most pressing, and there are scant agreement.

Sixteen percent identified education as the most important issue. Twelve percent chose crime/criminal justice/police concerns. Eight percent said taxes is their prime concern.

From there, the numbers continue to drop. Six percent chose the economy, 5 percent said job growth and another 5 percent said drugs.

Transportation was the top concern of just 3 percent of those surveyed, the same percentage that identified health care.

For all the national obsession about Trump’s push for a wall on the Southern border, 2 percent identified immigration as their main concern, with another 2 percent selecting the cost of housing.

A near-majority of respondents — 48 percent — expect their federal tax burden to increase as the result of the GOP-backed changes to federal tax law. Nearly 20 percent expect to pay less, and another 20 percent expect their tax burden to remain the same.

Portions of the poll released Monday asked Maryland residents their opinions on general policy issues.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters and republished with permission. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.