Democrats may be on their way towards making impressive gains in the House and Senate nationally, and at the state level in winning back several governor's mansions...but true blue Maryland is not going to be one of those states.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan holds a commanding 22-point lead over Democratic challenger Ben Jealous in a new poll that suggests the Republican is consolidating substantial support from groups that traditionally back Democrats in the deep-blue state.
The Goucher Poll, released early Wednesday morning, found likely voters favor Hogan over Jealous by a margin of 54 percent to 32 percent. Undecided voters have dwindled to just 9 percent of the electorate, the poll found, meaning Jealous must win the lion’s share of persuadable voters and bank on dramatically heightened Democratic turnout to have a shot on Election Day.
In addition to Hogan securing his Republican base by large margins, the poll found he had the support of 38 percent of Maryland Democrats, who outnumber GOP voters in the state by more than 2 to 1.
Even though most voters support the issues on which Jealous has campaigned — a $15-an-hour minimum wage, boosting education spending, and Medicare-for-all — they trust Hogan more on education, the economy and health care, the poll found.
“They like the issues, but they haven’t connected them to Jealous,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College in Towson, Md., which surveyed 472 likely voters from Sept. 11 to Sept. 16. “It’s clear that Ben Jealous needs to introduce himself to Marylanders.”
While Hogan and the Republican Governors Association have spent more than $2 million in a sustained advertising blitz in Maryland since June, Jealous launched his first television adMonday, with a modest buy in the Baltimore market. The Goucher poll — the latest to show Hogan with a double-digit lead in the race — was completed the previous day.
A quarter of voters identified the economy and jobs as the most important issue that would determine whom they picked in the governor’s race — more than any other topic. That bodes well for Hogan, since likely voters said they thought he would handle economic development and job creation better than Jealous by 66 percent to 23 percent.
Ben Jealous has done an abysmal job of campaigning so far. It's so bad for him that Hogan is getting more than a third of the black vote in the state, and women prefer Hogan by 9 points, 47-38%. And despite Donald Trump being next door, only 40% think he's a factor in the race at all. Both Trump and Hogan have ignored each other, and that's fine with both of them.
Jealous is winning with voters under 35. Millennials prefer him by 20 points. The problem is voters over 35 prefer Hogan by more than 30 points, and there's a lot more voters over 35 that actually vote in midterms.
If younger voters showed up to the polls in Maryland in record numbers, then yes, Ben Jealous would have a real shot at this race. Hogan's not terrible for a Republican but in 2018, he still chooses to be a Republican, and that's a disqualifying move as far as I'm concerned.
But since Millennials don't actually vote, and especially, aggressively don't vote in midterms, Hogan will be reelected and win walking away.
There's a lesson here for those who choose to learn it.