By Len Lazarick
Gov. Larry Hogan remains very popular in the latest Goucher College poll, and a majority lean toward re-electing him, but Marylanders go further than he is willing to do on significant issues such as paid sick leave, raising the minimum wage and school funding.
A strong majority does favor Hogan’s positions supporting an independent commission for redistricting and focusing transportation funding on roads and highways, not mass transit.
The poll taken last week (full results and methodology) surveyed 776 Maryland residents — not just registered voters, as many polls do — and found 63% approve of the job Hogan is doing, 17% disapprove, and 20% don’t know. That’s a dip from his 70% approval rating in September. They remain positive about the direction of the state: 62% say it is heading in the right direction, 22% say it is not.
Among the 644 registered voters who responded, 57% say they would definitely vote to reelect the governor next year or are leaning that way; 33% will definitely vote for someone else or are leaning that way.
LEGISLATURE: 42% of residents approve of the job the General Assembly is doing, 24% disapprove, and 33% don’t know.
Voters are divided on the impact their views of President Trump will have on their election choices next year. Forty-five percent say it will affect their choices a lot and 31% say it won’t affect them at all, while 21% say it will affect them some or a little.
“The governor remains largely unaffected by national politics,” said Mileah Kromer, director of polling at Goucher, despite efforts to connect him to Trump. But a third of the respondents do say he spends too little time addressing President Trump’s executive orders.
PAID SICK LEAVE: Four out of five respondents (80%) support requiring businesses with 15 or more workers to provide paid sick, the version that the House of Delegates approved last year and is voting on again this week. An even higher percentage (84%) support paid sick leave for businesses with over 50 employees as Hogan has proposed.
MINIMUM WAGE: Three out of five Marylanders (60%) support raising the state minimum wage to $15 an hour, a major increase. Now at $8.75 per hour, the state minimum is scheduled to go to $9.25 July 1 and $10.10 in July 1, 2018.
EDUCATION TOP PRIORITY: Asked about the most important issue facing the state, 18% of residents chose education. Two-thirds of Marylanders (66%) say the state spends “too little” to fund education, and about a quarter (23%) think the state spends about the right amount.
As to Gov. Hogan’s top priorities, jobs and taxes, 11% Marylanders ranked jobs and unemployment as a top priority, and 9% said taxes.
TRANSPORTATION: Three out of five Marylanders (59%) said the state government should focus more on improving roads and highways, and 35% said the focus should be on improving public transportation.
REDISTRICTING: Almost three out of four Marylanders (73%) prefer a system where legislative and congressional districts are drawn by an independent commission, as Hogan has proposed; 20% prefer the current system in which lines are redrawn by elected officials after every 10-year census.
MARIJUANA: 58% of Maryland residents think marijuana should be legalized, and 36% are opposed, similar to Goucher poll findings in 2015 and 2016.
Sixty-eight percent of the interviews were conducted by cell phone, and the poll has a margin of error of 3.5%.