Former NAACP president Ben Jealous, Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee, is one of 2018’s most compelling candidates. He’s also running one of the cycle’s most challenging campaigns, taking on Republican Larry Hogan, who consistently polls as one of America’s most popular governors—despite the fact that Democrats outnumber Republicans by a two-to-one margin in the state. On Tuesday, a Washington Post/University of Maryland poll found that Jealous is trailing Hogan by 20 points—58 percent to 38 percent. Most troubling for Jealous is that Hogan is winning 35 percent of Democrats. Hogan, moreover, has a slightly higher favorability rating among Democrats than Jealous does, 58 percent to 52 percent.
Hogan’s popularity has largely come from his handling of economic issues, transportation, and taxes. Hogan, like Massachusetts’s Governor Charlie Baker, also benefits from the perception that he is a moderate willing to work across the aisle within an increasingly belligerent and Trump-ian GOP.
Jealous, meanwhile, has struggled to connect with Maryland Democrats and raise cash after winning an upset primary campaign this summer. As the Post reported earlier this month, “elected officials and outside analysts say Jealous has been hurt by his failure to overcome his outsider status within the state’s Democratic power structure, raise enough money to communicate his message and combat attack ads, and quickly unify Democrats after the primary.” Although Jealous did win Barack Obama’s endorsement, it came on October 1, much later in the cycle than some expected.