by PABLO ROA
In the days leading up to the 2014 gubernatorial election, few expected Republican businessman Larry Hogan (R) to win the job in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1. Almost a year after he defeated Anthony Brown (D) in one of the biggest upsets of the campaign cycle, however, Governor Hogan is immensely popular in Maryland among members of both parties.
According to a recent Washington Post-University of Maryland poll, Hogan has a 61 percent approval rating nine months into his administration. Only 22 percent of those surveyed said they disapprove of Hogan, while 18 percent said they have no opinion.
The poll was conducted Oct. 8-11 and surveyed a random sample of 1,006 residents in Maryland, with a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
Not surprisingly, the bulk of Hogan’s support comes from Maryland Republicans — the governor has an approval rating of 82 percent among members of that party. But Hogan’s popularity isn’t limited to his Republican constituents. Independents and Democrats also have a favorable view of Hogan, with 58 percent of Independents and 52 percent of Democrats approving of how he has handled his job so far.
When it comes to the issues, Hogan is most favorable for his handling of the economy. 59 percent of those surveyed said they approve of the way the first-term governor has handled the economy, while 25 percent disapprove and 16 percent have no opinion. Marylanders also approve of Hogan’s ability to reach across the aisle, with 54 percent having a favorable view of his ability to work with Democrats.
Despite his approval rating — which has jumped 19 points since February — it’s not all good news for Hogan. As the Washington Post’s Ovetta Wiggins and Peyton M. Craighill write, his approval rating is similar to what former Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) had roughly one year into office. Of course, Ehrlich’s poll numbers eventually sank and he lost his reelection bid to former Governor Martin O’Malley (D) a few years later.
The poll also shows that Maryland residents still support liberal policies — such as paid sick leave — which could bring Hogan’s numbers down in the future. The governor has also received criticism for his unwillingness to increase education funds. According to the poll, only 47 percent of those surveyed have a favorable view of Hogan’s education policies.
“I think that it’s very important that he focuses on these things because Maryland’s always been well known for it’s education and I think continuing to fund it in the way we’ve done in the past would be beneficial,” freshman neurobiology major Tara Calabria said.
One of the most surprising aspects of Hogan’s success is that he has continued to run the state while suffering from non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which was diagnosed in June. According to the poll, 76 percent think it’s a good idea that the governor stays in office while he receives treatment for the disease.
While it’s been less than a year since his inauguration, Hogan’s administration is off to a good start. And for some, the fact that he continues to succeed as governor while battling a life-threatening disease is a testament to his dedication to the state.
“It just shows that he’s committed to the state and that he cares about what he does,” freshman psychology major Laila Risk said.