Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s approval rating ticked down slightly in a Goucher College poll released Monday, although the first-term Republican remains very popular and appears to be strongly positioned to win a second term in 2018.
The survey showed Hogan with a 63 percent approval rating among Maryland adults, below the 70 percent he had in September and identical to his rating at this time last year. It was not immediately clear whether the governor has been affected by Democratic attempts to tie him to President Trump, who is deeply unpopular in the state.
Fifty-seven percent of poll respondents said they lean toward voting for Hogan in the 2018 governor’s race or will definitely do so, while 33 percent said they are inclined or planning to vote for someone else.
Fifty-five percent said their opinion of Trump will influence their vote in the gubernatorial election to some extent, while 42 percent said it will not. Among those who said they disapprove of the job Hogan is doing, 12 percent said the main reason for their concern is Trump-related.
Democrats and advocacy groups have pressed Hogan to take a stance on Trump’s more- controversial policies, including plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, immigration-enforcement actions and a travel ban on citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.
So far, he has largely refused to do so. In the survey, 34 percent of respondents said Hogan spends too little time addressing Trump’s actions, while 33 percent said he spends about the right amount.
Goucher political scientist Mileah Kromer, who directed the polling team, said the governor remains “largely unaffected by national politics.” She said the decline in approval ratings could be because more attention is being paid to the agenda and actions of the Democratic-majority General Assembly, whose legislative session runs from mid-January through mid-April.
Hogan “controls the narrative after the legislative session,” Kromer said.
The poll showed that 42 percent of respondents approve of the job the General Assembly is doing, and 62 percent say the state is moving in the right direction.
The vast majority of people surveyed support requiring businesses in Maryland to provide paid sick leave for their employees. Eighty percent of respondents said businesses with 15 or more workers should provide the benefit, a mandate that would align with a Democratic-backed bill pending in the legislature. A slightly higher 84 percent said businesses with 50 or more workers should have to provide paid sick leave, which is what Hogan is proposing.
On the issue of redistricting, 73 percent of respondents said they prefer nonpartisan commissions to draw the state’s voting districts, another plan that Hogan has proposed. Twenty percent said they prefer the current system, in which elected officials handle the process.
Respondents were divided over whether to allow fracking in Maryland. Forty percent said they oppose a bill that would ban the gas-extraction method, while 36 percent said they support a ban. The legislature also is weighing a bill that would extend an existing moratorium on fracking for two years after it expires in October.
Goucher surveyed 776 people on Feb. 18-21. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.