U.S. Rep. David Trone has a slight edge over Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks in the Democratic primary race for Maryland’s open U.S. Senate seat, a closely contested matchup whose winner will advance to a similarly competitive general election, according to a new survey from Goucher College Poll and The Baltimore Banner.

Among a subset of Democratic voters, 42% of respondents backed Trone in the primary while 33% said they supported Alsobrooks.

Each of the Democratic frontrunners would face a tight showdown against Republican favorite Gov. Larry Hogan, the poll found. Both matchups were statistically tied, within the margin of error.

In a potential November matchup, 44% of respondents said they backed Hogan while 40% supported Alsobrooks. The other matchup was also close: 43% said they backed Hogan while 42% picked Trone. About 10% were undecided in both races.

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The survey of 800 Maryland registered voters was conducted by landline and cellphone from March 19 to March 24. The poll has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. The poll also surveyed 408 likely Democratic voters about the primary. Those questions had a 4.9 percentage point margin of error.

While no one candidate has a clear advantage in November, the poll indicates that Hogan remains popular with voters across party lines, said Mileah Kromer, associate professor of political science and the director of the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College. The Republican governor has maintained the broad bases of support that propelled him to victories in both 2014 and 2018, Kromer said, which in deep-blue Maryland could spell trouble for Democrats.

“Hogan’s popularity is so persistent is because it’s broad across demographic characteristics, “ Kromer said, “including steadfast Democrats.”

Control of the Senate may come down to close contests like Maryland’s. With Democrats’ slim Senate majority hanging in the balance, it’s one of several races being eyed across the country this year as Republicans hope to win back both the legislative branch and the White House.

Hogan, a moderate Republican and fierce critic of former President Donald Trump’s, made his surprise entrance into the U.S. Senate race on the Republican ticket in February. In a social media video, he pledged to work on behalf of all Marylanders and not just one political party — which he said reflected his performance as governor.

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About 24% of Democrats polled indicated they would vote for Hogan in the November general election. In his 2018 reelection bid, he captured about 30% of Democratic vote against opponent Ben Jealous, securing a double-digit victory, Kromer noted.

That includes Deron Hogans, a 35-year-old registered Democrat from Oxon Hill, who said he plans on supporting Hogan in November and sitting out the May Democratic primary.

Hogans said Alsobrooks’ performance as county executive has been lackluster, citing an excess of sprawl and missed development opportunities near his National Harbor home. He’s much more familiar with Hogan compared to Trone, too.

“If Hogan was running for president, I would be voting for him,” Hogans said.

Democrats have argued that Hogan would likely caucus with Republicans and fall in step with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who recruited him to run. Hogan has not made clear how he’ll remain a moderate amid the partisanship of national politics

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That could complicate Hogan’s chances, according to the poll, which shows that abortion access remains a top issue for a majority of Maryland voters and especially among Democrats. McConnell has alluded that a national ban is worthy of discussion.

But other issues, such as crime, economic development and jobs, taxes and health care ranked higher among Maryland voters overall, the poll found.

Bruce Watson, an unaffiliated voter from Essex, said he would gladly cast a ballot for Hogan in November. He believes Hogan to be “strong in character” and not easily persuaded by political forces, though he wouldn’t be surprised if the former governor wound up caucusing with Republicans.

“With what’s going on in Washington now, it may be hard” for the former governor to remain independent, said Watson, 61. “You may end up on the outside of everything, standing alone.”

A diesel engine mechanic who works in Owings Mills, Watson said he found Hogan to be an effective governor, especially relative to some of his predecessors.

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“There were a few issues, here and there, but overall I thought he did a very good job,” Watson said. “Most of the things he did throughout his tenure were even-handed and fair.”

The poll found that Hogan has more name recognition among voters than both Trone and Alsobrooks. Nearly one-third of all independent or unaffiliated voters polled said that which party controls the Senate does not matter much to them.

Among Democrats who said Republicans’ control of the Senate mattered to them, they slightly preferred Trone over Alsobrooks, the poll showed.

That’s why Andrew Orloff initially thought he would support Trone, who he thinks has a better shot in November against Hogan. But after learning about Trone’s unintended use of a racial slur in public last month, Orloff said he might change his vote.

“I would rather vote Angela,” Orloff said. “But I don’t know what her statistics are of winning.”

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Alsobrooks’ team has said that while Trone may have a slight edge in the May primary, he has spent considerably more money on campaigning only for the gap to have closed in recent weeks. She has secured a number of endorsements, including that of Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Gov. Wes Moore.

The poll found that Trone has an advantage among white voters. While Alsobrooks leads among Black voters, the gap separating her and Trone is narrower than among white voters.

Older Democrats, particularly over age 55, were also more likely to prefer Trone over Alsobrooks, according to the poll. But the 18-to-35-year-old demographic is split evenly between the two candidates.

Brenda Sweeney, a Germantown resident and registered Democrat, said Trone persuaded her with his performance as her Congressional representative.

“He’s a good man, he really reaches out to his constituents,” said Sweeney, a retired letter carrier. “Larry Hogan was a good governor, but I personally, and my family, would go with Trone.”

The poll also found that plenty of voters are still making up their minds for their pick in the Democratic primary. Nearly a quarter of all Democratic voters said they didn’t know which candidate they would support in May.

One such voter is William Beck, a retiree from Harford County, who said he needs more information about Trone and Alsobrooks before he can decide.

Beck said he’s aligned with Trone, whose ads he’s seen on television. He said he knew less about Alsobrooks and didn’t get as much out of her campaign ads.

Still, Beck said, he’ll throw his support around whoever advances out of the May primary. He thinks the general election will be close.

And though he appreciated Hogan’s independent streak as governor and likely would have voted for him if he ran for a third term, Beck said there’s too much at stake to support him now.

“No way I would be voting if it in any way would give Republicans an advantage in the Senate,” he said. “No way.”

Baltimore Banner reporter Jess Nocera contributed to this article.

Hallie Miller covers housing for The Baltimore Banner. She's previously covered city and regional services, business and health at both The Banner and The Baltimore Sun.

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