MARYLAND — After an increasing number of Marylanders gave high marks to Gov. Larry Hogan for his handling of the coronavirus in late July, the governor's approval rating dipped slightly in late August but remains above 70 percent. That's according to a recent poll conducted jointly by Northeastern University, Harvard University, Rutgers University, and Northwestern University.
But Hogan remains one of the governors with the highest approval ratings in the country for his decisions handling the virus. He lost some ground when he pushed for school districts to hold in-person classes this fall.
Many school leaders pushed back against the governor's guidance. Anne Arundel, Montgomery and Prince George's County school officials condemned Hogan's plea, reaffirming their commitment to a virtual start to the school year. Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Harford County all renewed their vow to start online, but promised to pick up the pace on developing hybrid plans.
Maryland and four other states — Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Vermont — with Republican governors that have taken a more aggressive stance in managing the pandemic have a very different partisan pattern in approval. In those five states, approval for the Republican governor among Democrats and Republicans has consistently been high, averaged across the five states, a bit higher among Democrats (72 percent) than Republicans (71 percent), the poll showed.
In the remaining 21 states with Republican governors, approval is especially polarized, at 64 percent among Republicans (dropping 13 points since April), and 25 points among Democrats (dropping 22 points).
The four universities have been tracking approval ratings for governors in all 50 states since late April, about a month after the outbreak began. Hogan's numbers initially were high, gradually dropped until rebounding in July.
Here are the percentage of people who have approved or strongly approved of Hogan's performances:
Late April: 78 percent.
Early May: 72 percent.
Late May: 69 percent.
Late June: 69 percent.
Late July: 76 percent.
Late August: 71 percent.
That puts Hogan well above the average 48 percent approval rating a majority of governors received.
Hogan scored the strongest marks in the nation in late July when 76 percent of Marylanders said they approve of the way he is handling the virus, The Hill reported. In Vermont, 75 percent like the way Gov. Phil Scott (R) is handling his state’s outbreak. Seventy-one percent of New Yorkers and Rhode Islanders approve of Govs. (D) and Gina Raimondo (D), respectively. And Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) is seen in a positive light by 70 percent of those in the state.
Governors who raced to reopen their economies, or never truly shut them down in the first place, had hot spots flourish in their states this summer, places where the virus is spreading virtually unchecked. And their pollo numbers reflect the unhappiness voters have over those decisions.
Just 28 percent of Iowans approve of the way Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) is dealing with the outbreak; she has refused to require face masks and is fighting in court with school districts that want to have online only classes. The coronavirus approval rating for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) is 36 percent.
A common factor among the most popular governors is they issued mandates ordering residents to wear masks in public, The Hill said. Twelve of the 15 most popular governors have issued mask mandates and just two of the 16 least popular governors — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) — issued mandates.
President Trump, who started from a much lower point, has lost ground from his high point of approval of 38 percent in late April, the poll said. Trump's approval rating in Maryland since the start of the outbreak:
Late April: 38 percent.
Early May: 27 percent.
Late May: 24 percent.
Late June: 30 percent.
Late July: 22 percent
Late August: 26 percent.