By William F. Zorzi
While Republican Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. continues to enjoy high job-approval ratings among likely voters of both parties, he could still face a difficult race against his Democratic challenger in Maryland’s November general election, a new poll shows.
Statewide, 63 percent of voters said they approve of Hogan’s job performance, while only 26 percent said they disapprove, and 11 percent were unsure, the telephone survey by Washington, D.C.-based Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy Inc. shows.
The governor also had high favorable ratings among voters surveyed, with 58 percent holding a favorable opinion of him — 35 percentage points higher than his closest possible Democratic challenger. Only 2 percent of voters did not recognize Hogan’s name, the poll showed.
Yet in match-ups with three top Democratic challengers at this point, the number of voters who said they would vote for Hogan if the election were today hovered around only 50 percent. In a contest today with Hogan, each of those three Democratic challengers would draw roughly a third of the vote, with the rest of voters polled yet undecided.
“The state’s large Democratic voter registration advantage [of roughly 2-1] keeps [Hogan’s] quest for a second term on a narrow path,” the pollsters wrote.
Between Feb. 20 and Feb. 22 Mason-Dixon interviewed 625 voters registered in Maryland who said they regularly vote in state elections. They were asked for whom they would vote, if the general election were today. The margin of error was 4 points.
If the election were today against Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III – the Democratic frontrunner at this point — Hogan would receive 51 percent of the vote, while Baker would take 36 percent, with 13 percent undecided.
Similar numbers came up if Hogan squared off with Baltimore County Executive Kevin B. Kamenetz and Benjamin T. Jealous, the former head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who resides in Anne Arundel County.
A Hogan-Kamenetz contest would be a 49-percent-to-34-percent affair, with 17 percent undecided. If the governor were to face Jealous, it would be a 50-33 percent race, again with 17 percent undecided.
“As the Democratic primary race progresses and his potential general election opponents become more familiar to Democrats, it will be a challenge for Hogan to hold his current crossover vote,” the pollsters wrote in their report.
“Even a mere decline of support of 5 points among Democrats make it mathematically challenging for Hogan to hold his support base above 50 percent in a one-on-one-race,” they wrote.
Hogan’s highest approval rating – 78 percent — was in the combined area of the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland. That was followed by Western Maryland with a 73 percent approval rating for the governor and Central Maryland with a 70 percent favorable rating.
The governor’s highest disapproval rating was in Baltimore City with 44 percent, trailed by Prince George’s County – where Hogan grew up – with 36 percent, and Montgomery County, with 34 percent. Those are the traditional Democratic stronghold in statewide general elections.