BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Heading into the 2022 gubernatorial election, the economy and jobs remain a top priority for Maryland voters, according to the new Goucher Poll released Thursday.

Of the 631 registered voters surveyed, 28% said those economic issues would be the most important factor in determining their vote, followed by health care (14%), “race/social justice issues” (13%) and taxes (12%).

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Pollsters with Goucher College spoke with 352 registered Democrats, 161 registered Republicans and 107 unaffiliated voters. In Maryland, Democrats outnumber Republicans by roughly 2 to 1.

Men and residents in the Baltimore metro area seem the most concerned about jobs and the economy, with 38% and 32% of those respondents, respectively, saying it was a top issue.

Women were more evenly divided, with the economy and jobs only one point ahead of health care and social justice (both 17%).

Nearly 1 in 3 residents in the Baltimore metro area said the economy was their top issue, compared with 22% in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and 21% in the Southern, Western and Eastern parts of the state.

A candidate like Gov. Larry Hogan, whose job approval rating is at 68% according to a Goucher Poll released earlier this week, would apparently fare well in a 2022 matchup.

“A Republican like Larry Hogan” is five points ahead of a “moderate Democrat,” 49%-44%, according to the poll. The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 3.9%, meaning the two hypothetical candidates are virtually tied.

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A progressive candidate would do even worse, according to the results. In a matchup between “a Republican like Larry Hogan” and “a progressive Democrat,” the hypothetical Hogan-like candidate finishes with a 55%-38% victory.

“A Republican like Donald Trump” would get soundly defeated against either a “progressive” or “moderate” Democrat, according to the poll.

More than half of the registered voters who were polled identified themselves as “moderates,” compared with 23% who said they were “conservative” and 20% who said they were “progressive.” And 3% didn’t know.

“The clearest path to holding the governorship for Maryland Republicans is by nominating a candidate who voters view as similar to Larry Hogan,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College. “On the Democratic side, it appears that a moderate candidate is electorally stronger than a progressive among registered
voters.”

Kromer noted the election is still a year away and preferences could change.

Del. Dan Cox, a pro-Trump candidate representing Frederick and Carroll counties, and Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz are the two biggest Republican names to launch candidacies thus far.

The Democrats already have a deep list of candidates headlined by Comptroller Peter Franchot, former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, former Attorney General Doug Gansler, former U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr., former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, and author and former nonprofit CEO Wes Moore.

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The poll was conducted between Oct. 14-20.

CBS Baltimore Staff