As lawmakers return to Annapolis, a plurality of Marylanders say crime is the top issue in the state and more than 7 in 10 say they approve of the job performance of Gov. Larry Hogan, according to a new poll released by Gonzales Research & Media services.
Statewide, 31% of those surveyed say that crime tops education, transportation, corruption and the economy as the top issue, outpacing education by a nearly 2-1 margin. The answer was based on an open-ended question that didn’t include prompts on specific issues from interviewers.
More than 40% of Democrats and nearly 20% of Republicans and Independents said crime was the top issue following a year when murders in Baltimore topped 300 again for the fifth consecutive year.
Patrick Gonzales, who conducts the poll, said the concern about crime was higher in the Baltimore metro region — Baltimore and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford and Howard counties — but that the issue also topped the list in suburbs of the District of Columbia as well as in rural counties.
The telephone poll of 838 registered Maryland voters was conducted between Dec. 23 and Jan. 4 and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
Hogan, a Republican in his second term, shows no signs of a public opinion slump and continues to be more popular in Maryland than President Donald Trump.
“At this point in a second term, we’d expect to see the numbers go down,” said Gonzales, noting drops in other governors, including Democrats William Donald Schaefer, Parris Glendening and Martin O’Malley. “It’s not just in Maryland. A typical governor at this stage would see a drop. Hogan’s numbers remain remarkably consistent.”
More than 75% of those polled said they approved of Hogan’s job performance compared to 16% that disapproved. More than 77% of Republicans and Independents and 73% of Democrats had a favorable opinion of the governor. Hogan’s popularity crosses gender and age categories, with more than 75% of men, women, and respondents under 50 and 50 or older saying they approve of the governor.
Gonzales attributed the continuing popularity to Hogan’s ability to connect on a “basic human level” with voters dating back to 2015 when he went public with his diagnosis and treatment of an aggressive form of lymphoma.
In March, the same poll showed Hogan’s job approval around 78% within the statistical margin of error for the survey released Tuesday.
Hogan’s polling numbers stand in stark contract to Trump in Maryland where more than 61% of those polled — a number driven by Democrats and Independents — disapprove of the president. Three-quarters of the Republicans who were polled approve of Trump.
Voters registered as Democrats in Maryland outpace Republicans by a 2-1 margin.
But voters are split, nearly within the margin of error, 50% to 46% on support for the U.S. Senate to remove Trump, who has been impeached by the House of Representatives. Those article of impeachment have not yet been delivered to the Senate.
The poll also found:
- 56% of those polled said the state is moving in the right direction, while 33% said it is on the wrong track.
- 57% said they favor the legalization of marijuana for adult recreational use, with the greatest support — 76% — coming from those under the age of 50. The General Assembly is not expected to pass any legalization bills this session.
- 56% of Marylanders polled said the state of the economy is excellent or pretty good. More than one-quarter of those say they believe it will improve and 55% say they believe economic conditions will remain largely the same over the next year. The most pessimistic view of the economy comes from respondents 18-39 years old. While 61 percent of that age group said they believed the economy would remain the same, nearly one-third said they thought it would get worse. The next most pessimistic age group were respondents 60 and older. Just 9 percent of that group said they believed the economy would get worse. “If you’re a millennial, you’re very depressed,” said Gonzales.