GOP Governors Like Hogan Defying National Trends

President Trump continues to lurch from scandal to scandal. Republicans are in serious danger of losing control of the House of Representatives. Democrats need to flip 23 seats to win control of the chamber, and a poll released Wednesday on the “generic ballot” for Congress showed Democrats with a 12-point advantage. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report says 34 GOP-held House districts are highly competitive, and another 52 are in some degree of danger of flipping. While it seems less likely, Democrats haven’t abandoned the dream of taking control of the U.S. Senate this November as well. But Republican governors – including Maryland’s own Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. – seem immune from the national GOP chaos.  Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R)  According to the latest nationwide survey from the website Morning Consult, the top 15 most popular governors in the nation are Republicans. Hogan remains ensconced in the No. 2 position, as he has for several consecutive quarters. Hogan’s job approval rating stood at 68 percent, while 17 percent of Marylanders disapproved of the job he’s doing. That put Hogan one tick behind Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), whose approval rating was 69 percent. Baker, like Hogan, is favored for reelection in a state that traditionally votes Democratic. The Cook Political Report puts the Maryland race in the “likely Republican” category; Massachusetts is currently rated as “safe Republican.” Rounding out Morning Consult’s top 10 list of most popular governors: Kay Ivey of Alabama (67 percent approval rating), Chris Sununu of New Hampshire (61 percent), Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota (61 percent), Matt Mead of Wyoming (60 percent), Brian Sandoval of Nevada (58 percent), Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas (57 percent), Nathan Deal of Georgia (56 percent), and Greg Abbott of Texas (56 percent). Ivey, Sununu, Hutchinson and Abbott are also seeking reelection this year, and are strong favorites. How to explain all this good news for Republican governors in a cycle that overall looks difficult for the GOP? “Voters have made it clear: Republican governors are America’s doers, and they strongly approve of their leadership,” the Republican Governors Association said in a statement Wednesday.  Not that there’s smooth sailing for every Republican governor this election cycle. Nine have polling numbers that are under water, according to Morning Consult, including three – Arizona’s Doug Ducey, Illinois’ Bruce Rauner, and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker – who are up for reelection this year. But their woes seem largely self-inflicted and not related to Trump’s dropping poll numbers. The least popular governor in the country was Oklahoma’s Mary Fallin, a Republican who is retiring this year. She had a 19 percent approval rating and a 74 percent disapproval. The highest rated Democratic governor, at No. 16 on the Morning Consult list, was Colorado’s John Hickenlooper. He had a 53 percent approval rating. The worst poll numbers for a Democrat belonged to retiring Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D), who had a 21 percent approval rating and a 71 percent disapproval mark.   Separately, but relatedly, four Republican governors – all of whom are seeking reelection in Democratic-leaning states, refused to sign on Wednesday to a letter 31 of their fellow GOP governors sent to U.S. senators, urging them to “expeditiously” confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The refuseniks were: Hogan, Baker, Rauner and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott. [email protected]

Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.

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