Maryland voters are satisfied with Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s leadership, but also support a few progressive policies that Democratic nominee Ben Jealous has championed throughout his campaign, according to a two-part Goucher College poll released this week.
The first part of the poll released Tuesday shows the majority of likely voters in favor of the state instituting a $15 minimum hourly wage and legalizing recreational marijuana.
However, the second part of the poll released Wednesday shows 54 percent would vote for Hogan and 32 percent support Jealous, the former NAACP president.
The number one concern for the 831 voters surveyed Sept. 11-16: the economy.
“The poll underscores the fact that we still have a popular Republican governor, but people are happy with the direction of the state,” Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, said Tuesday. “They are still concerned about taxes, but there is still support for progressive policy issues.”
Here’s a breakdown of some of the poll numbers in Tuesday’s poll:
• About 71 support raising the statewide minimum wage to $15 per hour, compared to 25 percent who oppose doing so.
• About 62 percent support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, versus 33 percent against it.
• Fifty-six percent say state taxes are “too high,” while 41 percent say the amount of state taxes they pay “is about right.”
Although the majority of participants support the initiatives and believe they pay too much in state taxes, 54 percent said the state is “heading in the right direction” and 64 percent approve of Hogan’s job as governor. Among those who identify as Democrat, 56 percent approve of Hogan’s performance.
Approximately 46 percent of both Blacks and Whites believe Hogan “has distanced himself about the right amount” from President Trump.
However, there’s a split racial divide with 46 percent of Blacks saying the state isn’t heading in the right direction, compared to only 22 percent of Whites.
Hogan’s Quest for History
If voters re-elect Hogan to another four years in office, he would become the first Republican in 64 years to win a second gubernatorial term in Maryland, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1.
Wednesday’s poll found 73 percent of voters are “set on their candidate,” compared to about 26 percent who could change their minds.
Other results from the poll:
• 66 percent have more confidence in Hogan to handle economic development and job creation, while 23 percent back Jealous.
• 51 percent express confidence in Hogan to handle education, compared to 36 percent for Jealous, who is endorsed by the state teachers’ union. Roughly 12 percent said they “don’t know.”
• 51 percent believe Hogan can manage health care for the state, compared to 35 percent who favor Jealous. Approximately 11 percent “don’t know” who would be best.
The 831 likely voters who participated in the poll were largely divided along racial, age and gender lines.
About 49 percent of Black voters support Jealous, compared to about 35 percent for Hogan, but 34 percent said they could change their minds. Blacks also favored Hogan to handle the economy over Jealous, 48 percent to 42 percent.
Progressives ages 18-34 favor Jealous at 52 percent, compared to 33 percent for Hogan. About 60 percent of adults 35 and older support Hogan and fewer than 30 percent back Jealous.
The poll also shows Hogan has more support from both men and women at 64 percent and 47 percent, respectively.
A potentially telling sign is Hogan’s popularity among independent voters, as he outpaced Jealous 57 percent to 17 percent in that demographic.
“What is most important is that the majority of Marylanders believe that our state is moving in the right direction, a stark contrast from where we were just four years ago,” Hogan campaign spokesman Scott Sloofman said Tuesday. “Maryland approves of the job Governor Hogan is doing and clearly doesn’t want to change directions now, especially for Ben Jealous’ high-tax, unaffordable and extreme agenda.”
The Jealous campaign on Wednesday discounted the poll results, focusing instead on what it says are three reasons he’ll succeed in November — underestimation of voter turnout for this year from 2014, the number of undecided voters and support for several Jealous platform goals, including statewide $15 minimum hourly wage, legalized recreational marijuana and Medicare for all.
“The Goucher poll doesn’t change our path to victory — if anything it explains it,” said Kevin Harris, senior adviser to the Jealous campaign. “It shows our message is the winning message, with voters looking for change rooted the bold progressive planks of Ben’s vision. In the next seven weeks, we will win over the voters we need for victory by communicating that winning message through Election Day.”
The Maryland Fight for $15 coalition also released a statement Wednesday.
“The poll mirrors what we hear every day in our communities: More and more Marylanders want fair pay for hardworking people,” said Ricarra Jones, deputy political director for 1199SEIU. “Not only will raising the minimum wage help lift these workers and their families out of poverty, it will also benefit the local economy and strengthen our neighborhoods.”
The poll has a margin of error of plus/minus 3.4 percentage points.