Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan remains highly popular in heavily Democratic Maryland, despite recent spats with lawmakers who say the Republican chief executive is combative and doesn’t collaborate enough.
A Goucher College poll released Tuesday found that 63 percent of Marylanders approve of the job Hogan is doing, an increase from 58 percent in an October poll by the same group. The governor had the approval of 86 percent of Republicans surveyed, but he also did well with Democrats, with 50 percent approval.
The poll results were less positive for Maryland’s Republican Party as a whole, with respondents favoring Democrats on several measures of trust and willingness to compromise. There are more than twice as many registered Democrats in Maryland as registered Republicans. The General Assembly, where Democrats hold commanding majorities in both chambers, had a 44 percent approval rating.
Sixty-nine percent of Marylanders polled said they think the state is heading in the right direction; 24 percent said the state is on the wrong track. Forty-two percent said they would leave the state if they had the opportunity, a modest drop from the 47 percent who said the same two years ago, when Martin O’Malley (D) was governor.
The results are positive news for Hogan, whose approach to governing has come under attack from legislative Democrats in recent weeks.
Mileah Kromer, director of the Goucher polling team, said the rancor is not surprising, considering the political dynamics in Maryland. “A very popular Republican governor and a heavily Democratic state is perfect fodder for a fiery legislative session,” she said.
Regarding the Republican Party as a whole, 29 percent of respondents said the party is more “responsive to the needs of people like you,” compared with 55 percent for the Democratic Party. Fifty-two percent said Democrats are more willing to work with the other party; 26 percent said the same of Republicans. And 42 percent said the Democratic Party governs in a more honest and ethical way, compared with 26 percent who said the same of Republicans.
Democrats had a smaller advantage when it came to views about which party can better manage the state government. Forty-five percent of respondents said the Democrats can do better, while 35 percent identified Republicans.
Kromer credited Hogan with keeping the gap close in that category.
“He talks about things that are really popular in a lot of ways,” she said, pointing to the governor’s efforts to decrease retiree income taxes, his plans to address blight in Baltimore and a proposal to control gerrymandering by requiring that an independent panel draw the state’s voting boundaries.
“I think those are things that resonate with people,” Kromer said. “It goes back to the idea of Hogan as a manager, with ideas he can actually implement.”
Hogan’s approval rating was high among African Americans, at 49 percent, but far better among whites, at 71 percent.
The poll also measured Marylanders’ views on various policy issues.
Education ranked as the top concern. Two-thirds of respondents said the state spends “too little” to fund public education, while 24 percent said the state spends “about the right amount.”
Jobs and unemployment were next among key concerns, followed by economic growth and development and then taxes.
Fifty-four percent of respondents said they support legalizing marijuana, nearly identical to the support found in a poll in February 2015.
The vast majority of respondents — 75 percent — said they prefer a system in which the boundaries of voting districts are determined by an independent commission, but 20 percent said they prefer that the state’s elected officials handle the process.
More than three-quarters of Marylanders said they support Hogan’s proposal to boost economic development in Baltimore by funding the removal of vacant buildings and replacing them with new developments or green spaces. Democratic lawmakers have expressed strong support for the plan, and they raised concerns when the money did not appear in the governor’s initial budget. Hogan has since added it.
In transportation, 56 percent of respondents said the state should focus more on improving roads and highways, while 39 percent said public transportation should be the focus.
There were stark differences between blacks and whites on issues involving police.
Forty-nine percent of Marylanders polled overall said they think people of all races receive equal treatment from law enforcement in their communities, but the number dipped to 38 percent among African Americans.
Similarly, 58 percent of respondents said police in their communities are held accountable for misconduct, but only 39 percent of African Americans agreed.
Eighty-five percent of residents said that police should be required to wear body cameras.
The Goucher poll was conducted Feb. 13-17 among a random sample of 545 residents of Maryland, including landline and cellphone respondents. Full results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.