By Sean Yoes, Baltimore AFRO Editor, syoes@afro.com

Donald Trump, the leader of the Republican Party, has left a trail of incompetence and a phalanx of scandal that grows almost daily, that is unrivaled in the history of the U.S. presidency. Yet, Trump’s ineptitude, unhinged behavior and historically low approval ratings as the GOP standard bearer, has not knocked Republican Maryland Governor Larry Hogan off his political stride, according to the results of the latest Goucher Poll (the poll is conducted by the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College).

Hogan continues to be one of the most popular U.S. governors of either party with a 69 percent approval rating, while 21 percent disapprove. Meanwhile, Trump’s approval in Maryland is an abysmal 25 percent (more than 10 points under his average national approval), with a 70 percent disapproval.

Sean Yoes (Courtesy Photo)

It’s no secret Hogan has strategically kept his distance from Trump, even before he captured the presidency. I wrote about Hogan’s rebuke of the then GOP nominee in this column in May 2016:

“I’m not a Trump fan,” Hogan told the Associated Press back in March. “I don’t think he should be the nominee. At this point in time, I have no idea who the candidates are going to be or who I’m going to vote for,” he added. And in reference to the GOP Convention in Cleveland…Hogan said, “I don’t even want to be involved…It’s a mess. I hate the whole thing. I don’t think we have the best candidates in either party that are being put up. I don’t like the things that are going on, and I’m sick of talking about it, because it’s not anything I have anything to do with.”

Two years later, Hogan’s anti-Trump protestations seem to have paid off politically for the governor according to the Goucher Poll.

Hogan is seen as a moderate by a majority (51 percent) of Marylanders, while only 26 percent believe Hogan is a conservative and nine percent say Hogan is liberal.

According to Goucher, almost half of respondents (47 percent) think Hogan has distanced himself from Trump “about the right amount” compared to 27 percent who believe Hogan has distanced himself “too little” from Trump and nine percent say he has distanced himself “too much” from the 45th president.

But, how does the Hogan/Trump dynamic in Maryland translate to his support against the men and women who are determined to face the Maryland governor in the November election? According to the Goucher Poll, Hogan holds a comfortable lead over all of his Democratic challengers.

Gov. Hogan holds a 13 point lead over Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, 44 percent to 31 percent. Hogan holds the same lead over former NAACP President Ben Jealous, 44 to 31.

Hogan leads Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz (45percnet to 28percent); leads Montgomery County Sen. Rich Madaleno (45percent to 27 percent); former senior adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Alec Ross (46 percent to 26 percent); businessman Jim Shea (47 percent to 27 percent); and former policy director for Michelle Obama, Krish Vignarajah (45 percent to 25 percent).

However, the Goucher Poll offers some hope for all of those Democrats vying to challenge Hogan; in all of the possible matchups against the governor, at least 22 percent of voters remain undecided.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or even a political scientist to realize the upcoming Democratic gubernatorial debates (Hogan is running unopposed in his party) are going to be brutal with candidates jockeying to separate themselves from the pack and invariably toss as much Trump mud on Hogan as possible in the process.

Ultimately, there is more than six months between now and the General Election in November, an eternity in politics, especially in these volatile times.

Sean Yoes is the Baltimore editor of the AFRO and host and executive producer of the AFRO First Edition video podcast, which airs Monday and Friday at 5 p.m., on the AFRO’s Facebook page.

Sean Yoes

AFRO Baltimore Editor