The first results are in from the new joint poll from Baltimore’s 126-year-old African-American newspaper, The Afro, and Morgan State University, and they indicate black Marylanders are unsurprisingly backing former NAACP president Ben Jealous in the gubernatorial election.
Were the election held today, the poll found, 57 percent of likely African-American voters in Maryland would pick Jealous, who’s running on a progressive Democratic platform against incumbent GOP Gov. Larry Hogan. Around 30 percent of the same demographic said they’d vote for or are leaning toward voting for Hogan, which a release noted was “an unexpectedly large percentage” that could boost Hogan’s chances for a second term.
However, Ray Winbush, director of Morgan State’s Urban Research Institute and a research professor there, said in a statement that Hogan’s low mark stands in contrast to “campaign ads that make it appear that Black and Democratic voters are overwhelmingly choosing Hogan over Jealous.”
In a phone interview Friday, Winbush nodded to this ad in particular, which shows retired federal judge and former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Alex Williams, Democratic Gaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman and others endorsing Hogan.
The governor did log a 65 percent approval rating among likely black voters across the state, the poll found.
The poll also gauged black voters’ feelings toward President Donald Trump, who grabbed a meager 8 percent of the black vote across America around this time two years ago.
It found just 12 percent of black Marylanders approve of his job performance in the White House, compared to 84 percent who disapprove.
Winbush said today that the data suggest black voters’ negative feelings about Trump are influencing their decision to vote against Hogan, who shares Trump’s party affiliation. He pointed to a newly published poll from USA Today and Suffolk University suggesting the same trend across the country.
“People aren’t just going to the poll with Hogan and Jealous in mind,” he said. “They’re also going to the poll with Trump in mind.”
Hogan campaign spokesman Scott Sloofman wrote in an emailed statement Friday that the mark of 30 percent support for Hogan heading into the election “shows a historic level of support for Governor Hogan in the African-American community.”
“The governor is gratified that a diverse coalition of Marylanders is supporting his re-election, and looks forward to working to make Maryland a more affordable place for all Marylanders over the next four years,” Sloofman said.
The Afro-Morgan State poll surveyed 604 African-American likely voters in Maryland, a concerted attempt by both institutions to gauge how the Free State’s black population is leaning politically during this midterm election juncture. Morgan State’s Institute for Urban Research is analyzing data collected by New Jersey-based market research firm Braun Research.
This is the first poll of its kind between a historically black college or university and an African-American newspaper, The Afro said in a release earlier this week.
There’s still plenty more to sort through, in terms of findings. Morgan State University spokesman Larry Jones told Baltimore Fishbowl in an email that the Institute for Urban Research has 55 pages of “raw data” to analyze, which he said could shed light on voting attitudes in specific jurisdictions, by gender and among millennials in particular.
“Those are things that are still being gleaned from the data,” Jones said. “The Afro and the University wanted to get the more salient parts of the results out now versus later.”
Other findings will be posted at The Afro in the coming weeks, the paper said.
This story has been updated. An earlier version contained incorrect data supplied by The Afro about the percentage of likely black voters who said they would vote for Hogan.
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