If Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan mounted a primary challenge against President Trump, Republican voters in his home state would back the president by a more than 2-to-1 margin, a new poll has found.
About 24 percent of GOP voters would support Hogan in a primary fight, while 68 percent would vote for Trump, the survey said.
“Republican primary voters in Maryland, and probably across the country, they like Donald Trump and they see no reason to replace him,” pollster Patrick Gonzales said. “Republican voters in Maryland also really like Larry Hogan, but it’s just not a compelling case for a primary challenge.”
Hogan is “strongly considering” a 2020 primary bid and sharpened his criticism of the president last month as he traveled to New Hampshire, home to the country’s first primary contest. Conservative activists have been recruiting Hogan as a potential challenger since he won re-election in Democratic-dominated Maryland in November by 12 percentage points.
The governor has said he feels no urgency to decide about the race before the fall.
When faced with previous polls showing him trailing Trump in a hypothetical matchup, Hogan has pointed out that he has a higher overall approval rating than Trump in Maryland, the only place nationwide where they’ve both been on the ballot. Hogan’s job approval rating among all Maryland voters is 76 percent, while Trump’s is 39 percent.
But with the voting bloc crucial to primary success — Maryland Republicans — Trump’s support is more robust, even without asking whether Hogan should challenge him. The governor’s job approval rating is 77 percent among GOP voters, compared with 78 percent for Trump, the poll found. Fifty-three percent of Maryland Republicans strongly approve of Hogan, compared with 64 percent who strongly approve of Trump.
Prominent Maryland Trump supporters have openly tried to discourage Hogan from challenging the president, lining up GOP endorsements for Trump’s reelection campaign.
The poll of 826 likely voters was conducted April 29 to May 4. The margin of error is 3.5 percentage points for all voters and seven percentage points for Republican primary voters.
Maryland voters in general have given tepid support to Hogan’s potential presidential ambitions. A Goucher Poll in February found 55 percent of residents thought Hogan should not run for president.
The state’s Republicans have also had divided views on Hogan’s public criticism of the president. In 2016, a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll asked Marylanders whether they approved of Hogan’s decision to not vote for Trump for president. Three-quarters of Marylanders overall approved of the decision, though Republicans split more evenly, with 43 percent approving and 47 percent disapproving.
Scott Clement contributed to this report.