ICYMI: Hogan and Baker Approval Ratings Tank, Endangering Republicans’ Chances of Winning in 2022
With Donald Trump out of the White House, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan “have been knocked off their pedestals.” Unable to hide behind Trump anymore, their approval ratings have taken a nosedive and both have pitiful support among members of their own party, jeopardizing Republicans’ chances of keeping those seats red in 2022.
Politico reports Baker’s “standing within his own party is so strained that” he might get a primary challenger backed by GOP leadership next year. This is the latest in a string of bad news for Baker – with his sinking popularity and weeks of failing to stand up a statewide vaccination program, Baker has dropped like a lead balloon and his chances of re-election are going down with him. His approval rating has dropped by 26 points, and members of his own party only gave him a 38% approval rating.
In Maryland, Hogan has angered many Trump activists with his criticism of the Trump administration, and his approval rating has dropped 14 points. Maryland Republicans are facing a fractured base and an increasingly blue state – more Marylanders favored Joe Biden over Donald Trump in the 2020 election than they favored Clinton over Trump in 2016.
Read more about Baker and Hogan’s downward slide below.
As recently as October, Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker was basking in his typically stratospheric poll ratings. More than 70 percent approved of his job performance. Roughly the same amount felt the same way about his handling of the Covid-19 crisis.
Those were the days.
Since then, Baker’s numbers have nosedived, knocking him off his pedestal as arguably the nation’s most popular governor. His coronavirus approval ratings have dropped from a high of 80 percent last April to 59 percent in February, according to the Covid States Project, which has been tracking gubernatorial approval ratings for the past year. His overall job performance ratings have also declined — from 78 percent in August to 52 percent at the end of February, according to a recent UMass Amherst poll.
In part, Baker’s downward slide can be attributed to his state’s troubled vaccine rollout, which got off to a slow start and was marked by a very public website crash for the vaccine appointment booking system. Yet there are also signs another factor may be contributing to his decline: Donald Trump’s departure from the White House.
Wildly unpopular in Massachusetts, Trump served as a foil for Baker, who was able to establish his own political independence — and win over Democratic constituents — by frequently criticizing his fellow Republican.
Baker isn’t the only blue-state Republican governor who’s seen his popularity dented by coronavirus fatigue and Trump’s absence from the news cycle. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott — two other Trump critics who have long rated among the most popular governors in the nation — have also seen their numbers dip in the post-Trump era.
In Baker’s case, his standing within his own party is so strained that, in the event he seeks a third term next year, a Republican close to state GOP leadership is gearing up to challenge him in the primary.
Like Baker, Hogan and Scott managed to keep a significant distance from the former president while he was in office — all of them made clear that while they may have been on the same team as Trump, they were certainly not on the same page.
Prior to the pandemic, the three governors were frequent Trump critics. Hogan was floated as a potential 2020 primary challenger to Trump. Scott went so far as to call Trump “racist” when the president told four Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” to where they came from.
After the election, each confessed that they did not vote for Trump in November. Hogan wrote in Ronald Reagan’s name. Scott said he voted for Biden. Baker blanked his ballot for the second election in a row.
But faced with the last major logistical challenge of the pandemic — vaccine distribution — Baker, Hogan and Scott have seen their approval ratings slip.
“Earlier perception of Baker as a very capable manager and trusted leader was seriously undermined by the way he underperformed the last few months,” said Boston-based Republican strategist Todd Domke.
Asked about his slide in the polls, Baker pointed to coronavirus fatigue in an interview with WGBH News. “I think everybody’s anxious for the pandemic to be over. I am,” he said. “I don’t know why everybody else wouldn’t be either.”
Hogan’s coronavirus approval rating is down from 78 percent in late April to 64 percent in February, according to the Covid States Project, which is a joint effort by Northeastern University, Harvard University, Rutgers University and Northwestern University. Scott’s coronavirus approval rating dropped the least — by about 8 percentage points, from 78 percent in August to 70 percent in February.