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Eye on Annapolis

The Daily Record's Maryland state government blog

Hogan riding high approvals as voter ire toward Trump grows

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

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

Four years after Republican Gov. Larry Hogan rode a wave of voter irritation over state taxes to victory, Maryland voters say economic issues — including taxes — remain top of mind.

The results are part of the latest Goucher Poll released Tuesday in which voters expressed support for some popular progressive issues such as minimum wage, the Medicare for all and legalizing recreational marijuana. Those same voters, however, continue to give Republican Gov. Larry Hogan high marks for job performance, express concerns about their tax burden and say they don’t trust the government to spend their money wisely.

Mileah Kromer, a political science professor at Goucher College and director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center, said pocketbook issues — jobs, the economy and taxes — continue to drive voter opinions.

“What underscores everything is the importance of the economy,” Kromer said.

The poll surveyed 831 adults, including 696 registered voters. It was conducted between Sept. 11-16 and has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

Of those 831 people surveyed, 67 percent said they approved of the job Hogan was doing compared to 17 percent who disapproved. Additionally, 50 percent said they identified Hogan as a moderate, and a plurality, 46 percent, said the first-term Republican governor has distanced himself the right amount from President Donald Trump.

Those same adults surveyed expressed optimism about their economic future, with 51 percent saying they expect their own personal financial situation to improve in a year and another 36 percent saying they expected it would remain about the same.

Currently, about 53 percent who responded said their financial situation is the same as it was a year ago. Another 32 percent said they were better off and 14 percent — the lowest amount since October 2012 — said they were worse off then a year ago.

“When you’re the person in charge, you get the benefits of voter satisfaction on economic issues,” Kromer said.

Hogan rode a wave of tax fatigue into Annapolis in 2014, and nearly four years later 56 percent of residents say taxes are too high compared to 41 percent who say they pay the right amount. Additionally, 48 percent say Maryland’s tax code benefits the wealthy.

But voters are also skeptical of how their government spends those taxes, with 55 percent saying they have little or no trust in their state government to spend the money wisely.

“There’s a lot of support for these progressive ideas, but when you go from there to how much it costs, the support can be a little more difficult,” Kromer said.

Trump, already unpopular in a state that voted for Hilary Clinton in 2016, continues to see his disapproval numbers in Maryland hover at the 70 percent mark.

“Donald Trump’s disapproval numbers have gone up and at the same time, there is no indication that this disapproval has even touched Larry Hogan,” said Todd Eberly, a political science professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. “Maryland Democrats have been trying without success for two years to link Larry Hogan to Donald Trump and the national Republican Party.”

The state still shows that it is liberal on a number of issues despite approving, in general, of a Republican governor.

Those surveyed expressed support for a number of issues that are part of Democratic Party nominee Ben Jealous’ campaign for governor.

More than half — 54 percent — say they view a Medicare-for-all or universal health care proposal favorably. Support for the plan softens, however, when matched against proposals to improve the Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as Obamacare. A plurality — 47 percent — say they’d rather see improvements made to the existing Affordable Care Act.

“Ben Jealous isn’t wrong,” Kromer said. “It’s just that Medicare-for-all isn’t the only option. It’s also about the Affordable Care Act.”

Jealous has campaigned on a proposal of implementing a Medicare-for-all plan in Maryland should he become governor. Hogan and his allies point to an analysis for the General Assembly completed earlier this year that says such a plan could cost $24 billion — more than doubling the state’s current general fund budget. Jealous has criticized those numbers as being wildly inaccurate.

Jealous has also campaigned on the legalization and taxation of recreational marijuana. The millions he claims would be raised could be used for a number of programs, starting with some form of an all-day pre-kindergarten program. He has called for an increasing the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said they support or strongly support legalizing recreational marijuana. The figure represents a continued growth in support for the issue. Also, 71 percent of those surveyed said they favor or strongly favor increasing the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour.

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