Although Larry Hogan continues to receive a high approval rating for his job as governor, Marylanders believe more funds should be spent on public education.
Goucher College of Towson released a poll Monday that shows 64 percent of registered voters approve of Hogan’s job as governor, in line with most Goucher polls since October 2015.
Mileah Kromer, political science professor at Goucher College and director of the school’s Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center, said Marylanders’ view of the economy have kept Hogan popular.
About 60 percent “hold a mostly positive view” of the state’s economy, compared to 29 percent who don’t. When asked to look ahead to the next year, about 53 percent believe it will stay about the same.
“You have a governor that’s been really focused on economic messaging,” Kromer said. “He will remain popular certainly as long as economic conditions in the state continue in this direction.”
According to the poll, the 763 respondents ranked three economic items that totaled at 17 percent — taxes (7 percent), economic development (7 percent) and job growth (3 percent) — as important issues facing the state.
However, 46 percent of survey participants say the state “is heading in the right direction.” The figure fell to its lowest point since Hogan took office more than four years ago.
The state’s Democratic Party isn’t fond of Hogan’s work, especially after he visited Baltimore last week.
The party said in a statement Friday that Hogan “swooped into Baltimore with a pair of shades and a gaggle of TV cameras in tow to offer a crime plan.” The statement outlined how State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and several lawmakers from the city created programs to fight crime, improve education and eliminate tax liens.
“Maybe the governor can fire off the bat signal when he spots a crime in progress from his State Police helicopter,” according to the party’s statement. “In the meantime, Democrats will continue to pursue policies to address the real issues in Baltimore City.”
The Goucher poll also asked participants about public education. The poll shows about 70 percent say “state government spends too little” on public education. About 19 percent surveyed believe the state spends the right amount and 6 percent say too much money goes toward education.
Education, at 13 percent, ranked as the top concern in the state. However, 77 percent read or heard “nothing at all” about the Kirwan Commission.
The commission, formally called the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, continues to work on ideas and recommendations to improve public education.
The group comprised of state, county and school officials and educators have proposed at least $3.8 billion would be needed each year. Some of the proposals include more behavioral services, boost teacher salaries and additional resources for students with disabilities.
Those who did know about the commission also answered “is it to improve public education or to improve public transportation in Maryland?” Approximately 68 percent chose public education, but 15 percent picked public transportation and another 15 percent didn’t know.
Hogan has criticized some of the Kirwan Commission recommendations as “half-baked” and too expensive. Commission members, named and led by former University of Maryland System chancellor William E. “Brit” Kirwan, claim the state must spend money to boost public education. How it would be paid for remains undetermined.
“Can you convince the public that the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission will actually give you the improvement that you’re promising?” Kromer said. “With 77 percent not really knowing what Kirwan is, the advocates better define it now before Hogan defines it for them.”
Love for Obama
Goucher College released two other polls this week focusing on national topics and the Democratic presidential election.
One of the polls, publicized Tuesday, Sept. 24, shows 73 percent still have a favorable opinion of former President Barack Obama, compared to 22 percent who don’t.
In addition, 63 percent still support the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare.
About 67 percent disapprove of Donald Trump’s job as president, 65 percent plan of those surveyed would vote for a Democrat if the 2020 election were held today, and 56 percent don’t support the Republican Party.
Those figures aren’t surprising because Democrats outnumber Republicans in Maryland 2 to 1.
However, only 43 percent present a favorable viewpoint of the Democratic Party. About 39 percent have the opposite opinion.
“People get frustrated with the party system … for a number of reasons,” Kromer said. “It could be [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi hasn’t [sought to] impeach Donald Trump yet. Or frustrated you don’t like the choices for the primary. There’s across the board frustration with both parties.”
The surveys conducted Sept. 13-18 have a margin of error of 3.6 percent.