Clin­ton en­joys wide lead over Trump in Md.

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By John Fritze

WASH­ING­TON — Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump is deeply un­pop­u­lar in Mary­land and could be act­ing as a weight on the GOP can­di­date for the state’s open U.S. Se­nate seat, ac­cord­ing to a statewide poll to be re­leased to­day.

Trump, who is run­ning only slightly be­hind Demo­crat Hillary Clin­ton in na­tional polls, is get­ting crushed in blue Mary­land. The busi­ness­man is down 29 points in the state, the poll finds, and is los­ing ev­ery de­mo­graphic: men, women, whites, blacks, young vot­ers and old.

The num­bers in the con­test to re­place Sen. Bar­bara A. Mikul­ski are nearly iden­ti­cal. Demo­cratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Mont­gomery County is lead­ing Repub­li­can Del. Kathy Szeliga of Bal­ti­more County 2-1.

The poll was con­ducted by An­napolis­based Opin­ionWorks, which shared its find­ings with The Bal­ti­more Sun in ad­vance

of their re­lease to­day.

“Trump has a very low ceil­ing in Mary­land,” said Steve Raabe, pres­i­dent of Opin­ionWorks. “A lot of peo­ple are go­ing to have to change their minds in a very fun­da­men­tal way for him to even come close.”

The re­sults come just af­ter La­bor Day, the un­of­fi­cial start of the gen­eral elec­tion sea­son.

Re­flect­ing na­tional trends, they show Trump has sup­port from just 3 per­cent of Mary­land’s African-Amer­i­can vot­ers. He is los­ing whites by 10 points, and is trail­ing among in­de­pen­dent vot­ers by 25 points.

Trump’s con­tro­ver­sial cam­paign is bleed­ing into other races across the na­tion, giv­ing Democrats hope that they can pick up House and Se­nate seats in Novem­ber de­spite a nom­i­nee who has her own sig­nif­i­cant is­sues.

In Mary­land, Trump’s im­pact ap­pears to be work­ing against Szeliga, who al­ready faced an up­hill fight in a state where reg­is­tered Democrats out­num­ber Repub­li­cans by more than 2-1.

Szeliga, the state House Repub­li­can whip, has said she sup­ports the GOP nom­i­nee but has been crit­i­cal of some of his re­marks. Van Hollen has tried to tie her to Trump in vir­tu­ally ev­ery pub­lic state­ment.

Szeliga, Raabe said, “is likely to get pun­ished to some de­gree by virtue of be­ing a Repub­li­can can­di­date this year.”

The poll iden­ti­fies one bright spot for Mary­land Repub­li­cans: The pop­u­lar­ity of Gov. Larry Ho­gan con­tin­ues to soar. Sev­enty-one per­cent of reg­is­tered vot­ers in the state — in­clud­ing 63 per­cent of Democrats and 88 per­cent of Repub­li­cans — ap­prove of

Poll: Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion

If the elec­tion for pres­i­dent were be­ing held to­day, for whom would you vote? CLIN­TON TRUMP the job he is do­ing.

Ho­gan’s sup­port has grown by eight points since a Bal­ti­more Sun/Uni­ver­sity of Bal­ti­more sur­vey in Novem­ber, and it eclipses the rat­ings his pre­de­ces­sor, Demo­crat Martin O’Mal­ley, re­ceived dur­ing his eight years in of­fice.

“It’s not a hon­ey­moon, and it’s not sym­pa­thy be­cause of can­cer,” said Todd Eberly, a po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist at St. Mary’s Col­lege. “These are sus­tained num­bers.”

Ho­gan was elected in 2014 and bat­tled non-Hodgkin’s lym­phoma last year.

Repub­li­cans are al­ready gear­ing up to de­fend Ho­gan when he comes up for re-elec­tion in 2018, and sev­eral Democrats have started jock­ey­ing to chal­lenge him. The race will have far-reach­ing con­se­quences: The next gover­nor will have a hand in re­draw­ing con­gres­sional and leg­isla­tive dis­trict bound­aries in 2021.

Ho­gan’s only po­ten­tial soft spot is in the heav­ily Demo­cratic Wash­ing­ton sub­urbs. Twenty-eight per­cent of re­spon­dents in Mont­gomery County and 24 per­cent of those in Prince Ge­orge’s County said they are not sure about Ho­gan’s per­for­mance.

His ap­proval rat­ing in Bal­ti­more — a bas­tion of Demo­cratic pol­i­tics — is 72 per­cent.

Opin­ionWorks in­ter­viewed 754 likely vot­ers in Mary­land about the pres­i­den­tial and Se­nate con­tests. The re­sults have a mar­gin of er­ror of plus or mi­nus 3.6 per­cent­age points.

Opin­ionWorks has sur­veyed vot­ers for The Bal­ti­more Sun in the past, but con­ducted this poll in­de­pen­dently.

On the sur­face, the re­sults of­fer few sur­prises about the elec­tion. Mary­land hasn’t backed a Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date since Ge­orge H.W. Bush de­feated Michael Dukakis in 1988, and there are no signs ei­ther can­di­date will spend resources in the state.

Van Hollen, mean­while, has long been con­sid­ered the fa­vorite to win the Se­nate seat.

But the sur­vey un­der­cuts a num­ber of nar­ra­tives that have cropped up in Mary­land since the April 26 pri­mary elec­tion.

Some Trump sup­port­ers have grown in­creas­ingly vo­cal in their crit­i­cism of Ho­gan, sug­gest­ing the cold shoul­der he has given to the GOP nom­i­nee could hurt his re-elec­tion chances in Mary­land in 2018.

There is no ev­i­dence of that in the poll, which finds the gover­nor is ex­ceed­ingly pop­u­lar with the state’s Repub­li­cans.

Ho­gan said in June he would not sup­port Trump. He de­clined to at­tend the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion, at which Trump was for­mally nom­i­nated ear­lier this sum­mer.

But there’s also no sign Ho­gan’s pop­u­lar­ity is do­ing much to help down-bal­lot Repub­li­cans such as Szeliga. The num­bers of­fer lit­tle in­di­ca­tion that Mary­land is trend­ing more pur­ple af­ter Ho­gan man­aged to pull off an up­set win over Demo­crat An­thony Brown in 2014.

Nearly one in five likely vot­ers are un­de­cided in the Se­nate race, ac­cord­ing to the poll. If ev­ery one of them chose Szeliga, the poll finds, she would still lose by 10 points.

Van Hollen, who won a closely watched pri­mary against Rep. Donna F. Ed­wards this year, is lead­ing among in­de­pen­dent vot­ers, whites, blacks, men, women and in ev­ery ge­o­graphic area of the state ex­cept Western Mary­land, South­ern Mary­land and the Eastern Shore. The poll finds Van Hollen down by only four points in Western Mary­land, a Repub­li­can strong­hold.

Clin­ton, sim­i­larly, has strong sup­port in the greater Bal­ti­more re­gion, as well as the Demo­cratic ter­ri­tory of Bal­ti­more and the Wash­ing­ton sub­urbs.

Among Clin­ton sup­port­ers, 82 per­cent said they would “never vote for Trump.” Among Trump sup­port­ers, by con­trast, 69 per­cent said they would “never vote for Clin­ton.”

“In 2014 there was enor­mous en­thu­si­asm among Repub­li­cans that drove turnout,” Raabe said. “This time Democrats are highly mo­ti­vated and ex­cited, and Repub­li­cans are feel­ing a lit­tle less so.”

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