Voters casting ballots in early voting at the Potomac Community Recreation Center in Potomac, Md. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
Polling analyst

A sizable minority of Maryland Democrats are not comfortable reaching across the aisle to campaign for votes for their party leading up to November’s midterms.

Some argue that Democrats shouldn’t bend over backwards to win over Trump voters who feel alienated by the Democratic Party, and should instead focus on touting their policies' impact on people. In a Washington Post opinion piece last month, Paul Waldman wrote:

“This is a game [Democrats] cannot win, so they have to stop playing. Know at the outset that no matter what you say or do, Republicans will cry that you’re disrespecting good heartland voters. There is no bit of PR razzle-dazzle that will stop them. Remember that white Republicans are not going to vote for you anyway, and their votes are no more valuable or virtuous than the votes of any other American. Don’t try to come up with photo ops showing you genuflecting before the totems of the white working class, because that won’t work. Advocate for what you believe in, and explain why it actually helps people.”

A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll from early this month found that roughly 3 in 10 Democratic registered voters in the state say they would be “uncomfortable” if their party made a significant effort this election year to win support from those who voted for President Trump. Fewer, 18 percent, say they would be uncomfortable if the Democratic Party made an effort to reach out to those who voted for Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, according to a recent Washington Post-University of Maryland poll.

Majorities of Maryland Democrats were comfortable with their party reaching out three types of voters the survey asked about, though less than half were “very comfortable” courting each group.


The poll finds no significant differences between self-described liberal Democrats and those who call themselves moderate or conservative. But male Democrats are more than twice as likely to feel uncomfortable about their party reaching out to Hogan voters (27 percent) than female Democrats (11 percent).

Democrats’ greater openness to reaching out to Hogan voters than Trump supporters is not too surprising, given that the governor enjoys an approval rating of 74 percent among all registered voters in the Democratic-leaning state and has the approval of 65 percent of registered Democrats. And in the same poll, Hogan leads each Democratic opponent by at least 10 points in general election match-ups.

By contrast, Trump’s approval rating is 29 percent among all registered Maryland voters, and only 8 percent among Democrats.

The findings suggest that while Democrats are largely supportive of their party courting Trump voters in upcoming elections, a sizable minority of partisans have reservations. The poll did not gauge whether Democrats would prefer investing in different approaches, such as attempting to boost turnout among young and nonwhite voters who lean Democratic.

The Washington Post-University of Maryland poll was conducted May 29 to June 3 among a third of a sample each, 219 to 238 registered Maryland Democrats, with a margin of error of plus or minus nine to 9.5 percentage points.

Scott Clement contributed to this report.