The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Marylanders back single-payer health care, but give high ratings to Gov. Larry Hogan

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, left, and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous. (Pete Marovich for The Post and AP)

A new poll finds that slightly more than half of Maryland residents have a favorable view of a single-payer health-care plan, which is a cornerstone of the campaign platform of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous.

The Goucher College survey also found that more Marylanders would prefer to improve the way the federal Affordable Care Act works in the state than adopt the Medicare-for-all health-care system being pushed by Jealous and other progressives nationwide.

With seven weeks to go until the election, the poll illustrated the uphill battle Jealous faces in his effort to oust Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who is substantially better funded and has benefited from attack ads paid for by the Republican Governors Association.

Although large majorities support legalizing marijuana and requiring a $15 minimum wage — also key Jealous proposals — a similarly high proportion of Marylanders say they approve of Hogan’s job performance after more than 3½ years in office.

Read the full survey results here

Hogan has governed as a moderate and frequently distances himself from President Trump, who is deeply unpopular in Maryland. The governor’s approval rate in the Goucher poll was 64 percent, while 61 percent say they “strongly disapprove” of Trump’s job performance — the highest number since the question was first asked.

The poll found that 45 percent of Marylanders say Hogan has distanced himself from Trump “about the right amount,” while 24 percent say he has done too little, and 8 percent say he has done too much.

“It paints a picture of a Maryland electorate that is . . . happy with the job Larry Hogan has done, while at the same time incredibly unhappy with President Trump,” said Todd Eberly, a political scientist at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Goucher will release polling directly on the Hogan-Jealous matchup on Wednesday.

The survey results released Tuesday at 12:01 a.m., demonstrated significant concern about taxes, with 56 percent of Marylanders saying the amount of state taxes they have to pay is too high. Forty-one percent say they pay about the right amount.

A Gallup poll in April found that 45 percent of all Americans said federal income taxes were too high.

Regarding health care, 54 percent of Marylanders say they have a favorable view of Medicare-for-all, which Hogan has dismissed as too expensive and Jealous says would hold down costs and greatly expand coverage. Thirty-five percent say they view it unfavorably.

Given a choice between universal health care and improving the federal law known informally as Obamacare, 47 percent say they would rather improve Obamacare and 29 percent say they would prefer to adopt a Medicare-for-all plan.

On the campaign trail, Hogan often says that most Marylanders are happy with the direction the state is headed, which was not the case when he and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford campaigned in 2014 as the underdog candidates. The Goucher poll gives credence to that claim: 54 percent of residents say things in the state are headed in the right direction, compared to the 38 percent who said the same in September 2014.

After reviewing the poll results, Melissa Deckman, the Louis L. Goldstein professor of public affairs and chairwoman of the political-science department at Washington College, said she was “struck by how effective Hogan’s messaging has been.”

“He’s portrayed himself as a moderate, and it’s worked,” Deckman said

She noted that Marylanders seem “pretty happy” and generally have good financial outlooks. More than twice as many say their financial situation has gotten better in the past year as opposed to worse, 32 percent to 14 percent. In 2014, slightly more said their finances had gotten worse than better.

The Goucher poll was conducted Sept. 11-16 among a random sample of 831 Maryland residents interviewed on cellular and landline phones. The margin of sampling error for overall results is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.