With 10 days before the start of early voting and one month before Election Day, Democratic challenger Ben Jealous is still finding it difficult to make inroads against incumbent Republican Governor Larry Hogan, according to a new Gonzales Poll released Wednesday.
Across the state, 54 percent of likely voters indicate they plan to vote for Hogan, while 36 percent say they will vote for Ben Jealous—an 18-point margin that is only slightly narrower than the 20-point lead Hogan had in a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll released earlier this week.
“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,” pollster Patrick Gonzales said in a statement accompanying the release of the poll. In the worst of times—the very worst political environment imaginable—a Democrat in Maryland begins the race with 40 percent. Mr. Jealous has not yet reached that minimum threshold a little more than a week before early voting commences.”
Two percent of likely voters say they’ll vote for either Libertarian candidate Shawn Quinn or Green Party candidate Ian Schlakman, and eight percent are undecided.
Meanwhile, support for Donald Trump ticked up five points in Maryland since August—as the controversial Brett Kavanaugh nomination was in the news—with 41 percent of state voters now indicating they approve of the job the president is doing. Statewide, 55 percent disapprove (with 48 percent “strongly” disapproving) of the job that Trump is doing.
Hogan captured a third of the registered Democrats in the state in the Gonzales Poll, running up enormous margins in the Baltimore suburbs (64 percent to 25 percent), the eastern, western, and southern parts of the state. Jealous leads in Baltimore City, but by just 10 percent (50-40) and the Washington metro area by 17 percent (53-36.) Jealous leads in Prince George’s County where Hogan’s father once served as county executive, 64 percent to 23 percent, but is only tied with Hogan in traditionally liberal Montgomery County.
The Gonzales Poll, with a plus or minor margin of error of 3.5 percent, was conducted during the first week of October.
Overall, Hogan remains very popular with 67 percent of voters holding either a “very favorable” (44 percent) or “somewhat favorable" (23 percent) opinion of the governor. By party, 86 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of Democrats hold a favorable opinion of Hogan. Sixty-two percent believe Maryland is moving in the “right direction” and 20 percent believe it is on the “wrong track.”
A mid-September Goucher Poll had Hogan ahead by 22 points, albeit many voters indicating they supported policies backed by Jealous, suggesting the challenger could possibly gain traction. That has not transpired.
In terms of race, the majority of both white Marylanders (68 percent) and black Marylanders (53 percent) approve of the job Hogan is doing.
However, there is a big distinction between white Marylanders’ and black Marylanders’ perceptions of Jealous, who is vying to become the first African-American governor in the state. While black voters in the state overwhelmingly have a favorable opinion of Jealous (65 percent to 7 percent), white voters do not (28 to 44).
Earlier this week, Jealous said the Hogan campaign was using a political ad that mocked his stutter.
The unusual support for a Republican governor in traditionally blue Maryland where Democrats hold a 2-1-voter registration advantage also appears to be helping make the race for Attorney General closer than expected. In that campaign, Democratic incumbent Brian Frosh holds a nine-point lead, 43 percent to 34 percent, over Republican challenger Craig Wolf, with 23 percent undecided.