Two new polls suggest that Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. is extraordinarily well-positioned to secure a second term on Nov. 6, a feat that would make him the first Republican executive to win reelection in Maryland since the 1950s. Although Maryland is one of the most Democratic states in the nation, there is little evidence in either survey that Benjamin T. Jealous (D), the surprise winner of his party’s primary in June, is catching fire with the electorate. Hogan’s high job-approval numbers and a strong belief that the state is on the right track, combined with Jealous’ failure to connect with voters, put the incumbent ahead of his rival in large chunks of the state (everywhere except in the Washington, D.C., suburbs and Baltimore City) and among just about every demographic group, narrowing the challenger’s path to an upset considerably. Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (center) continues to hold a wide lead in his bid for reelection. File photo
The Gonzales Research and Media Services survey showed Hogan with a 54 percent to 36 percent edge over Jealous, while a Washington Post/University of Maryland sampling of the electorate found an even larger advantage, 58 percent to 38 percent. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed by Gonzales said Maryland is headed in the “right direction”; just one in five said the state is on the “wrong track.” “Free State voters are on the doorstep of reelecting a GOP governor for the first time since many liked Ike, and we all loved Lucy,” said pollster Patrick Gonzales. “If the election were held today, incumbent Larry Hogan would win in a romp, trouncing his Democratic opponent by a solid double-digit margin.” Just eight percent of the state’s electorate is undecided, according to the Gonzales poll. There are numerous signs of trouble for Jealous. Among them: he and Hogan are tied in Montgomery County, the state’s largest political subdivision and one that purged its last elected Republican elected leaders a dozen years ago. Each candidate has the support of 45.7 percent of those surveyed there. Four years ago, then-Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) won Montgomery with 62 percent support, compared with 37 percent for Hogan. Jealous leads in Baltimore City, 50 percent to 40 percent, but there too he under-performs Brown’s 2014 numbers by miles. Brown racked up 76 percent of the city vote in his losing effort four years ago, compared with 22 percent for Hogan. “It’s not yet quite time to call in the Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and extinguish the campfire, but the hunt’s end is clearly drawing nigh,” Gonzales wrote in his polling memo. “Since his surprisingly imposing victory in the June Democratic primary, first-time candidate Ben Jealous’ efforts to create electoral enthusiasm beyond his progressive base have produced bupkis.” Hogan led in the Baltimore region (59-30), in “rural Maryland” (70-22), and among independents (52-25). Jealous and groups supporting him have promised to mobilize a historic get-out-the-vote effort among progressives, first-time voters, and those who frequently don’t vote. But Hogan led Jealous in every age group, calling the viability of the Jealous strategy into question. Hogan has relentlessly stressed his work with the Democrat-controlled General Assembly, and he frequently refers to his cabinet as the most bipartisan in state history. In addition, he has broken with President Trump frequently[j1] . Democratic voters have taken notice. Two-thirds approve of the job Hogan is doing. Fewer than one in four disapprove. Independents approve of his job performance by better than four-to-one. Jealous leads among Democrats (55-35) and among African-Americans (70-21). But Hogan leads among whites commandingly (65-26), a metric that likely spells doom for the first-time candidate’s bid for the governor’s mansion. Trump is unpopular in Maryland. Only 39 percent of voters view him favorably, compared with 53 percent who have an unfavorable view. Forty-one percent approve of the job he is doing, compared with 55 percent of disapprove. Interestingly, Maryland Republicans back Hogan enthusiastically (91-6), even as they voice support for the controversial president’s handing of his job (81-13). Hogan’s overall job approval numbers (72-18) leave Trump in the dust. Both polls were in the field in early October. The Gonzales survey had a margin of error of 3.5 points. The Washington Post/University of Maryland MOE was 4.5 percent. The Post surveyed 648 likely voters. Gonzales reached 806.