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Hogan ‘manages’ for high job approval rating

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan continues to ride high when it comes to the public perception of his job performance even as Democrats are more trusted to run government overall, according to a new poll released by the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College.

Hogan, who is in the second year of his first term, has a 63 percent job approval rate including 50 percent of Democrats, with just 17 percent saying they disapprove of the job the governor has done so far, according to the poll.

Md. Gov. Larry Hogan. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

Md. Gov. Larry Hogan. (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

“They see Larry Hogan as someone who can manage the state,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the poll. “He has presented himself as someone who is decisive and as someone who is a good manager of issues they care about.”

Separately, 52 percent of those surveyed said they have a favorable or very favorable view of the governor compared to 42 percent who expressed an unfavorable or very unfavorable view of Hogan. The figures represent an increase in the governor’s personal favorability, which is different from job performance, and a decrease in his overall unfavorability numbers compared to an October Goucher poll.

The numbers, which have a 4 percent margin of error, are statistically similar to a poll released earlier this year by Annapolis-based Gonzales Research and Marketing.

In general, those who were surveyed have an optimistic outlook about the state. Nearly two-thirds say the state is moving in the right direction, up from 54 percent a year ago. Nearly 70 percent say they trust state government to do what is in the best interest of the public.

But only 44 percent say they approve of the job the Maryland General Assembly is doing — statistically flat compared to last year but up about 5 points from the same time in 2013 and 2014, according to the poll.

But Maryland remains a deep blue state and the majority of those surveyed still say Democrats are more representative of their views.

  • 42 percent say Democrats govern in a more ethical way compared to 26 percent who favored Republicans and 21 percent who said neither party did.
  • 57 percent said the state Republican Party was more extreme in its views compared to 28 percent who said the same of the state Democratic Party.
  • 52 percent said Democrats were more likely to work with the other party compared to 26 percent who said Republicans were more likely to do so and 15 percent who said neither side worked well with the other.
  • 56 percent said the Democratic Party was more “representative of the needs of people like you” compared to 29 percent who said the same of Republicans and 10 percent who said neither side represented their needs.

But Kromer said a narrow gap in the perception of which party is better able to manage the affairs of the state shows that Hogan has done a good job at branding himself as a capable manager.

In response to that question, 46 percent said Democrats were more capable of managing the state compared to 35 percent who said Republicans were better equipped to do so, according to the poll.

“Governor Larry Hogan continues to earn high marks from Marylanders—this sustained support is particularly impressive given the partisan lean of the state,” said Kromer “If the recent mutual frustrations between the Governor and the Democratic-dominated legislature have demonstrated anything, it’s that a very popular Republican governor and a heavily Democratic state is perfect fodder for a fiery legislative session.”

Education remains the top priority in the state with 17 percent saying it was their main issue and said the state does not provide enough funding for education.

But 35 percent of those surveyed said either jobs and unemployment, economic growth and development, or taxes were their top issue — all concerns Hogan has focused on since taking office.

When it comes to transportation issues, Kromer said the public appears to favor Hogan’s approach with 56 percent saying they favor state spending on roads and highways compared to 36 percent who favored more robust spending on public transit projects.

Democrats have repeatedly attempted to throttle Hogan over his decision to cancel the $2.9 billion Red Line light rail project but Kromer said it doesn’t appear to be sticking to the governor.

“To me, Larry Hogan  has been really good at being able to demonstrate to the public tangible, shovel-in-the-ground projects,” Kromer said.

And while a majority of Marylanders say the state is a good place to live and get a K-12 or college education, there are concerns.

  • A combined 67 percent said the state is a poor or fair place to retire.
  • A combined 53 percent said the state is a poor or fair place to run a business.
  • Those surveyed were nearly evenly divided when it came to perceptions about finding a job in the state, which has had one of the slowest post-recession recoveries in the country.

Additionally, 55 percent of those surveyed said Maryland was a good or excellent place to live and a similar number said they’d prefer to remain in the state. Still, about 42 percent of those surveyed said they would prefer to leave the state. That number is down from 47 percent cited in a 2014 Gallup poll.

But Kromer said timing of the poll, which came during a week in which the state was socked with an ice storm and about a week after an earlier storm dumped two feet of snow on the state may be driving those numbers.

“I’d love to see how different those numbers would look in beautiful May,” Kromer said.

Finally, the public perception of the job police are doing is split sharply along racial lines — a result consistent with other national polls.

But there is common ground — 85 percent of those surveyed say police should wear body cameras. That figure includes 96 percent support among African Americans and 80 percent among whites surveyed, according to the poll.