Hogan Hovers Around 50 Percent in Test Against 3 Democrats

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.

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan
Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan

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.

William F. Zorzi
Bill Zorzi was a Baltimore Sun reporter and editor for nearly 20 years, focusing on government and politics. An Annapolis bureau veteran, he wrote a weekly column, “The Political Game” for the paper.Zorzi and another former Sun reporter, David Simon, are longtime collaborators on acclaimed television projects, including the HBO series, “The Wire,” and the HBO miniseries “Show Me a Hero,” which dealt with an explosive housing desegregation case in Yonkers, NY.


  1. A veto proof legislature, and two Democrat US Senators. Notwithstanding typical midterm low voter turnout, Maryland has a weak Democratic party structure (a mile wide and an inch thick). And the reason for Hogan’s high favorables? A State consisting largely of “Blue Dog” Democrats! Particularly when there’s no strong Democrat at the top of the ticket.

    • No strong Democrat? Are you just saying words and assuming that makes them true? The Democratic field is led by two county executives from two of the three largest districts in the state and a nationally prominent progressive leader and former head of the NAACP. That seems like a pretty stacked primary.

      A state consistently of Blue Dogs? Tell that to PG, MoCo, and Baltimore City. Van Hollen demolished Szeliga in the senate race. With Democratic turnout jumping across the country, I expect any of the top three Democratic candidates to beat Hogan in November.

      • Correct. No strong Democrat. This is a “midterm election”, it’s not November 6th. I would take offense to your mischaracterization of my “words” in your comments, however, I don’t want to deflate your enthusiasm for the three gubernatorial candidates you lauded above. (Only one by name). I have voted for and supported all three of the leading Democratic contenders since they entered the public square. Van Holland in congress, Baker as Maryland State Delegate and PG Co. Executive and a life long family member of the NAACP, formerly headed by and experienced explosive growth under the leadership of Ben Jealous.

        The primary race among them will get rough. How’s that going to work out after November 6th? Will they bury the hatchet, join forces and enable the winner to grow coattails long and strong enough to offset the Blue Dog tendency of the State’s body politic or will they be outspent and defeated with disaffected voters staying at home on election day? This political trifecta strategy of capturing Baltimore, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties is thing of the past. Especially in Trump’s divided America. Again, you mention my words. I’m talking about numbers. Numbers don’t lie and make assumptions true. You reserve that rhetoric for Trump and what’s left of his sycophantic talking heads.

        Look at Trump’s numbers in Baltimore Co., Ann Arundel Co and the surrounding suburbs in 2016. Not to mention rural Maryland. 60 to 80% in many instances. Please don’t get me wrong. Hogan and former Republican Gov. Ehrlich are not anomalies. Big blue California gave the state Ronald Reagan, Pete Wilson and the other movie star guy. Big blue New York produced George Pataki. But those two states have economies larger than 80% of the world’s countries. Since “All Politics is Local” what’s Maryland’s excuse?

        Let’s not forget money and corruption in politics, the tools and behavior that foment voter suppression and apathy. Corruption in Maryland is an annual scandal not unlike Division 1 college basketball scandals that, without exception, erupts during “March Madness” every year. Speaking of corruption, indicted Maryland politicians start singing like Jay birds on their way to conviction for taking cash stuffed envelops from liquor store owners in order to impact State alcohol regulations in Prince Georges Co. Maryland Matters reported that convicted former House Delegate Vince Vaughn. “fingered” Senator Doug J.J. Peters putting him square in the middle of the ongoing federal investigation. There is always more fire than smoke from elected officials on their way to sentencing. I would rather have my Senator focusing on issues of education and healthcare rather than spending his time in Annapolis catering to merchants who want to pour more alcohol in PG County on Sunday’s in the middle of an opioid crisis. I understand help is on the way. From what I’ve read and heard Sen. Peters opponent in the June primary, Tim Adams, is more than qualified for the position and financially secure creating a firewall from special interest money that’s not in the best interest of the people of Maryland. But that’s another kettle of fish for future discussion.

        Blue Dog Democrats vote for privatizing social security, “three strikes your out” laws followed by corporate owned prisons, opposing minimum wages, union busting and gutting the US welfare system leaving millions of venerable American families on the streets. This is not to say we don’t have stellar Democrats at the federal, state and local levels throughout the state of Maryland. We certainly do.

        Finally, please comment on why the billionaire Koch brothers would ride into Maryland on a “Trojan Horse” under the insulting guise of correcting the criminal justice system. The Koch brothers of all people! Apparently they see something you don’t. They’re here to suppress an already anemic midterm election vote in Big Blue Maryland with an eye on 2020 reapportionment. Where’s the outrage?.

        Would it help you understand if I said the state of Maryland “consisted” largely of Boll Weevil voters?


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