Poll Shows Biden With 32-Point Lead, Hogan Still Popular, Voters Embracing Progressive Policies

Democratic presidential nominee former Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) arrive to deliver remarks at the Alexis Dupont High School on Aug. 12 in Wilmington, Del. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Former vice president Joe Biden holds a 32-point lead over President Donald Trump in Maryland, a recent poll shows.

Biden was the choice of 62% of likely Maryland voters and Trump was named by 30% in a poll conducted Sept. 4-11 by OpinionWorks, an Annapolis survey research firm. The poll of 838 voters had a 3.4-point margin of error.

If those numbers hold, Biden would slightly outpace Hillary Clinton’s margin over Trump in 2016, when she took 60% in Maryland and Trump took just under 34%.

While 88% of Democrats and 87% of Republicans in Maryland said they will vote for the candidates of their own party, independents are breaking two-to-one for Biden (34% to 18%, with 45% unsure and the remainder saying they may not vote).

Biden led Trump 82% to 8% among Black voters and 49% to 40% among white voters.

The presidential horse race was just one of many political and policy questions OpinionWorks pollsters asked Maryland voters.

Trump’s bad poll numbers are not having any impact on Maryland’s Republican governor, Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), who remains wildly popular. Sixty-nine percent of voters said they viewed him favorably, and only 10% said they viewed him unfavorably.

Such numbers would be the envy of any politician, but they may represent a minor slide for Hogan, who was registering approval ratings in the high 70s in other polls earlier this year. Of those voters in the survey who were favorable, 36% viewed Hogan very favorably and 33% had a somewhat favorable opinion of him.

The governor’s favorability was consistent across party lines: He was viewed favorably by 75% of Republicans, 62% of Independents, and 69% of Democrats across the state.

Even with Hogan’s high poll numbers, proposals for paid family leave and a restructuring of the tax code to require wealthy individuals to pay a larger share of their income in taxes won broad support in the poll ― across party lines ― and survey respondents also favored retaining Democratic control of the General Assembly by a wide margin.

Though legislative elections will not be held until 2022, in a  hypothetical generic ballot test, 56% of voters said they are likely to vote for the Democratic legislative candidates in their district, compared to 27% who were more likely to vote for the Republicans.

The 29-point advantage for Democrats was 10 points larger than when OpinionWorks asked the question of voters in October 2017. At that time, 42% of voters said they were likely to vote for the Democrats in their district and 23% favored the Republicans, for a margin of 19 points, a result that was fairly consistent with the prior few years.

The most recent result, OpinionWorks suggested in a survey memo, represents a hardening of partisanship, with Republicans gaining 4 points and Democrats gaining 14 points in voter support. Independents have also broken heavily towards Democrats in 2020, now favoring them by 16 points in the generic ballot after the two parties were essentially tied among independents in 2017.

BLM, COVID-19

The Black Lives Matter movement is viewed favorably by almost two-thirds of voters in Maryland (63%), three times as many as the 21% who view the movement unfavorably.  Almost half (49%) of white voters said they view the movement favorably, compared to 30% with an unfavorable view and 21% who are neutral or unsure. Among African-American voters, favorability towards BLM stood at 88%, compared to 6% unfavorable.

Almost half (47%) of the state’s registered voters said they know someone personally who has tested positive for the coronavirus, and another 2% know someone who could not get a test but may have had the virus.

More than four voters in 10 said they have experienced an economic impact from the pandemic: 16% said they were laid off, lost their job, or lost their primary source of income, and 25% said they have not lost their primary source if income but their income is reduced.

Maryland voters said they disapprove of Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis by a margin of 63% disapprove to 24% approve. Democrats disapproved by a margin of 86% to 6%, and independents by 56% to 19%. Republicans said they approve of Trump’s handling of the crisis by a margin of 70% to 15%.

Paid family leave, tax reform

The poll also addressed two public policy issues that may come before the General Assembly in 2021.

A proposal to create paid family and medical leave in Maryland received very broad support. By a margin of 78% to 12%, voters said they supported “a proposal to create a family and medical leave insurance program that would provide workers with partial wage replacement for up to 12 weeks when they need time away from work to provide care for a new child, a seriously ill family member, or their own serious health condition.” A majority of voters (51%) said they strongly favor this proposal.

The proposal was popular across party lines, with 81% of Democrats, 76% of independents, and 73% of Republicans supporting it.

The poll also found widespread support for a proposed restructuring of the tax code.

By a margin of 69% to 17%, voters across Maryland said they believe the state should “change the law to require wealthy individuals to pay the same share of their income as middle-class residents pay.”

This issue also appears to cross party lines. Seventy-five percent of Democrats, 66% of independents, and 62% of Republicans said they would favor this revision of the tax code. Support topped 60% in every part of the state, including 68% on the traditionally conservative Eastern Shore and 61% in Western Maryland.

The poll question on family leave was paid for 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Maryland/DC Division. The question on tax policy was paid for by the Maryland Center on Economic Policy. The remainder of the poll was conducted by OpinionWorks solely for public release and was not paid for by any sponsor.

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Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.