When the anticipated blue wave washes up on the shores of Maryland next month it’s going to run into a serious seawall in the form of Governor Larry Hogan. In a season where progressives, particularly in seriously blue states like Maryland, are looking for almost anything other than “yet another old white man,” voters in the Old Line State have clearly found one old white guy they’re willing to support. And to add insult to injury, he’s a Republican.

Hogan is facing off against someone who, at least on paper, should have been an ideal pick for the Democrats in a season like this. Ben Jealous is a former leader of the NAACP with solid national name recognition. And yet, according to the most recent polling, Hogan is trouncing him by at least 20 points with less than a month to go. (Washington Post)

With less than a month until Election Day, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has built a formidable lead over Democratic challenger Ben Jealous, with few voters undecided and most preferring the incumbent Republican even on key Jealous policy issues such as health care and education, a new Washington Post-University of Maryland poll finds.

Likely voters in Maryland support Hogan by a 20-point margin, 58 percent to 38 percent. Just 5 percent have not settled on a candidate.

In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 2 to 1, Hogan appears to have assembled a coalition that cuts into the Democratic base, giving him a clear advantage over Jealous in bellwether Baltimore County and running competitively in heavily Democratic Montgomery. Jealous leads Hogan in only one of Maryland’s major geographic blocs — Prince George’s County.

Broken down by party affiliation, the only category where Jealous leads is among registered Democrats. And even then he’s only up 58-35. Consider that for a moment. The old white Republican guy is picking up more than one-third of the registered Democratic voters. And Hogan’s approval rating among Democrats is 59% while Jealous only racks up 52%. How is he managing it?

I watched part of the candidates’ single debate from September 24th. They both had their key issues down and argued them well enough, but the one thing which really stuck out for me was the way that Ben Jealous seemed to come off as if he’s just constantly angry. Not angry at Hogan, but more angry at his own state and his party, perhaps for not supporting him more strongly.

By contrast, Hogan is an old-fashioned retail politician. He’s almost always smiling and speaks positively of his state and his agenda. (Which has been showing solid growth during his tenure.) He’s also managed to keep himself above the fray in Washington as much as possible. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him mention Donald Trump’s name except to tell reporters that he’s keeping his focus on his own race in his own state.

The last factor voters may be considering is that while Jealous has a lot of name recognition with the NAACP, he’s never run for office and has no experience managing anything the size of Maryland’s economy. No matter your politics, why take a chance on an unknown quantity when you’ve got a proven, effective leader already in place?