By The Numbers: Hogan Riding a Wave of Support

A poll out today from Morning Consult shows that Republican Governor Larry Hogan is riding a wave of support in Maryland, thought to be a stronghold for Democrats. Hogan, who faces the voters next Fall in his re-election bid, has commanded a super-majority of support in polls for over a year.

A Super-majority of Support

68% of respondents to the poll indicated that they supported Governor Hogan while only 16% disapproved. Hogan, who is second only to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker in popularity, has charted a moderate course during his first term. One of Hogan’s toughest political hurdles was reining-in the State’s ballooning budgetary problems and bringing financial restraint after the calamitous over-spending by former Governor Martin O’Malley.

Hogan’s popularity in Maryland transcends the traditional left-right dichotomy. His support among Democrats and Independents stems from a willingness to put partisanship aside and embrace calls to work together with “the other side” on important issues. However, Hogan is certainly not someone who simply gives up without a fight. Rather, Hogan has picked his battles masterfully and won popular acclaim for his willingness to stand up to shenanigans from the Democrats in the General Assembly.

The Game’s Just Started

Despite the good news from polling, and the wave of popular support the Governor enjoys, it’s far-too-early to be thinking that the Governor’s re-election bid will be anything but a knock-down, drag-out slog all the way until Election Day next year. There are already several Democrats who have decided to throw their names into contention for the right to take on Hogan next year (Rushern Baker, Ben Jealous, Rich Madaleno, and Alec Ross). We’re also watching a few more big names rev-up their campaign infrastructure to drive into the field as well. (Rep. John Sarbanes, Rep. John Delaney, and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz)

You can expect to see huge amounts of money spent on the Maryland Governor’s race next year. The Chairman of the DNC, Tom Perez, is a native Marylander and sees the race as a personal trophy that he wants to bring back in Donald Trump’s first midterm election.

Hogan, whose very public battle with cancer as well as his decision to send the National Guard into Baltimore to quell the Freddie Gray riots has endeared him to average Marylanders, still faces opponents within his own Party who think that his lack of support for Donald Trump and his unwillingness to engage on every issue with Maryland Democrats means that he’s not doing a good enough job. What these folks don’t understand is that Hogan keeping his powder dry for important issues means that he can win those battles.

We have already seen the playbook from Maryland Democrats. They will try to tie Hogan to Trump (who they see as not being popular in Maryland). While this clearly hasn’t worked so far, a message with millions of dollars behind it, regardless of its truth, will start to sink in. Moreover, there is still one more session of the General Assembly in the early part of next year. You can expect many bills aimed directly at reducing the Governor’s political capital with swing voters.

What’s at Stake, and Why It’s Important

At stake in the 2018 Gubernatorial Election in Maryland is the State’s financial health as well as it’s political future. The current crop of Democrats challenging Governor Hogan have embraced a far-left message that would, inevitably, translate into wildly increased spending and driving businesses out of the State. It’s telling that the currently declared Democrats challenging the Governor have almost no business experience between all of them. Hogan has made it a central pillar of his governorship to grow Maryland’s economy and bring back businesses.

The numbers show that Maryland’s economy is coming back. However, changing from a savvy businessman to a left-wing ideologue would almost certainly cause any gains made in the last four years to falter.

The Democrats are specifically concerned about the Maryland Governor’s race because, if Governor Hogan wins, it means that the era of gerrymandering in Maryland will come to an end. The Federal Courts have already weighed in that political gerrymandering in Maryland has taken place to benefit Democrats. If Hogan is re-elected, Democrats know that fairly drawn Congressional districts would mean a loss of their stranglehold on Maryland’s delegation in Washington.

Maryland’s gerrymandered Congressional Districts

While most of the maps that have been discussed would not make Republicans a majority in Maryland’s Congressional delegation, they agree that Republicans should have two seats in the House with another two districts being competitive (note that this is how the maps were as recently as the late 1990s).

Redrawing the maps, given the population density figures and wiggle-room built into the law, could also dramatically reduce the number of Democrats in the General Assembly (hence their crusade to pin every negative piece of news on Governor Hogan). It’s important to note that, if Republicans can pick up five seats in the Maryland State Senate, they would be able to prevent Democrats from blocking the Governor’s redrawing of the electoral maps. (If that sounds like a political double-negative, it is. The Governor can draw maps and, if they aren’t blocked by the General Assembly, they can be implemented. Currently, Democrats can override the Governor. With five more Republican Senators, they wouldn’t be able to do so.)

A Great Place to Start… with a Long Path Ahead

So, there’s a lot at stake in Maryland’s election next Fall. While Team Hogan should take confidence in the fact that real Marylanders, outside of the vocal online critics, want to support the Governor’s message and agenda. While Larry Hogan may not be the kind of Republican who would rocket to power in hardcore conservative states, he’s the kind of Republican who can right the financial ship in Maryland, spur job growth, work to undo decades of decline in Baltimore City, reduce burdens on average citizens, and unwind political corruption in Annapolis.

These are the types of accomplishments that Governor Hogan can achieve, and the same kind that would be undone if the far-left in Maryland has their way. However, 68% of Marylanders know that Governor Hogan’s path is the one that will lead Maryland to prosperity and that’s a great starting point to continue to Change Maryland.

 

Matt McDaniel

Attorney and Political Commentator

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