Maryland Shock Poll

Stunning new polling data may provide the ultimate clue that explains former Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) unexpected jump into the Maryland US Senate race.

A release from Emerson College (2/12-13; 1,000 MD registered voters; 543 likely Democratic primary voters; 246 likely Republican primary voters; multiple sampling techniques) finds Mr. Hogan tied with US Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac), who has already spent $23 million in attempting to win the Democratic Party nomination, at 42% apiece. He would lead Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, 44-37%, if she were to become the Democratic nominee.

What is particularly surprising and may not be sustainable once the campaign begins in earnest, is Mr. Hogan’s standing among Independent voters and even Democrats. If Mr. Trone were his general election opponent, Mr. Hogan would lead among Independents and rather stunningly attracts approximately one-quarter of Democratic voters. With Ms. Alsobrooks as his opponent, Mr. Hogan’s numbers are much better. Within this pairing, he would lead among Independents 43-18%, while converting 31% of Democratic voters.

The polling accuracy appears sound. When asked the respondents’ preferences on the presidential race, President Joe Biden topped former President Donald Trump by a 55-32% margin, relatively close to the 2020 actual Maryland presidential vote count of 65-32%.

A danger sign does appear for Mr. Biden, however. When adding Independents Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Cornel West along with Green Party prospective nominee Jill Stein, the President drops below majority support to 47%. Mr. Trump is second here with 31%, while Messrs. Kennedy and West draw 6 and 1%, respectively. Ms. Stein also gets on the board at 1 percent.

Therefore, while the minor candidates draw almost exclusively from Biden under this scenario, the President would still be in no danger of losing the state, though his falling below majority support in such a strong Democratic domain would be a surprising outcome.

It does appear that Mr. Trone’s massive primary spending is now exacting a toll on the Alsobrooks campaign, however. Even though he has been advertising for almost a year in attempting to secure the Democratic nomination, it has only been recently where Mr. Trone has established a clear polling advantage. The current Emerson survey reveals his best showing, a close to 2:1 division but also featuring a large undecided/won’t say figure. The Democratic ballot test finds Rep. Trone holding a 32-17% lead over Ms. Alsobrooks.

In the local county politician’s corner, however, is her campaign strategy. She won’t attempt to counter Mr. Trone’s massive spending until the two move much closer to the state’s May 14th primary election.

Knowing that she could not match Rep. Trone’s personal wealth, and his willingness to spend it on his political career after successfully founding the Total Beverage chain store enterprise, Ms. Alsobrooks is pooling her money – she had raised just over $5 million through year-end 2023 with $3.1 million cash-on-hand – until the contest’s closing weeks.

On the positive front, she has developed strong support within the African American community, which is a key component to winning a Maryland Democratic primary. Therefore, despite what the current polling might say, Ms. Alsobrooks has enough resources and a plan to become highly competitive at the point when voting begins.

While the Emerson College results are encouraging for Mr. Hogan, and obviously confirm data that internal Republican polling was producing to convince the former Governor to enter the race, his task to win a federal race as a Republican in Maryland in a presidential election year, especially with an unpopular Donald Trump leading the GOP ballot, has the highest difficulty factor.

Mr. Hogan left the Governor’s office as reportedly the most popular two-term state chief executive in Maryland history. He will, however, need every bit of that residual goodwill to place himself in a position to win this Senate race come November.

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