By Len Lazarick
Gov. Larry Hogan gets positive approval ratings in the latest Goucher College poll, as does one of his top priorities this fall, an independent redistricting commission, but it is not an important issue to most residents.
The poll found 58% of Maryland residents approved of the job Hogan has done in his eight months in office, while 18% disapprove and 23% don’t know. At the same time, 54% have a favorable view of the Republican governor, and only 15% have an unfavorable view, but nearly a third of residents (30%) don’t have an opinion.
Hogan gets lower ratings on his handling of specific issues:
- on public education, his worst ranking, 40% approve and 33% disapprove, reflecting the strong criticism he received from Democrats and the teachers union.
- on economic growth and development, 52% approve and 21% disapprove;
- on job creation, 42% approve and 28% disapprove;
- on his handling of taxes, 52% approve and 29% disapprove;
- on crime and criminal justice, 43% approve and 32% disapprove;
- on transportation and infrastructure, 50% approve and 29% disapprove;
- on environmental issues, 42% approve and 27% disapprove.
When asked about the most important issue facing Maryland, residents chose education (15%), taxes (14%), economic growth and development (13%), and jobs and unemployment (11%).
Maryland residents are more optimistic about the direction the state is taking than they were a year ago. Fifty-six percent (56%) said the state is heading the right direction compared to 38% in the Goucher poll last September.
Off to a good start
“In the eyes of many Marylanders, Governor Larry Hogan is off to a good start leading the state,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center. “What is notable is that his support crosses party lines.”
“Along with his 80% approval rating among his fellow Republicans, 54% of Democrats approve of the job he’s doing,” said Kromer, along with 53% of independents. “A tough test of his leadership ability will come this spring, when he has to work with the heavily Democratic legislature to address important statewide issues like education, public transportation, and budgetary policy.”
Asked an open-ended question “what one word best describes Gov. Larry Hogan?” the most common answers (only 3% and 2%) were “honest, determined, fair, ambitious, Republican, trying and mediocre.”
Other state issues
Redistricting: When asked how Maryland should determine voting district lines, 73% prefer a system where legislative and congressional districts are set by an independent commission, as Hogan has proposed, setting up a commission to draft a plan; 21% prefer a system where district lines are drawn by elected officials, as is now done after each Census every 10 years.
Legalize Marijuana: 52% support the legalization of marijuana, 42% oppose, and 64% think it should be left up to the states to decide.
School start after Labor Day: 72% of Marylanders say school should start after Labor Day, while 19% oppose the move. Comptroller Peter Franchot has been pushing for this change for years, and Hogan supports the move as well.
Confederate Memorials: Asked if monuments, memorials and statues to the Confederacy on public grounds should be removed or stay, 65% think they should stay and 28% think they should be removed. But 47% of African Americans think they should be removed, while 44% think they should stay.
How the poll was done: The poll was conducted Sept. 26-30, contacting 636 Maryland residents by phone, 57% on cell phones. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.9 percentages points.