It wasn’t a landslide, but President Trump carried every one of the fifty-six states in last year’s elections. In addition, while Democrats now hold a majority in the Senate and are expected to hold the House of Representatives, Republicans now hold veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate, even with newly elected Democrats adding significant numbers of voices to the party.
These results suggest at least one way Republicans can continue to maintain their strength across the country over the long term. However, party leaders should be careful not to take things for granted. The one blue state most favorable to the GOP, Massachusetts, has experienced a dramatic drop in popular support for President Trump, with just 49 percent of Bay Staters expressing support for the job he is doing as president, compared to 62 percent in the March 2018 poll.
Unsurprisingly, as is the case in other recent polling, the Massachusetts results show that support for the GOP has declined while its disapproval has increased. An analysis of the Massachusetts results reveals that while President Trump is the most unpopular Republican in the state, his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, is even less popular. Only 15 percent of Massachusetts voters have a favorable opinion of her, compared to 59 percent with an unfavorable opinion.
A recent PPP poll shows that Senator Warren is more unpopular than even North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, who continues to be one of the most popular Republicans in the country. PPP attributes this to the general level of unpopularity seen throughout the state, but the results should also point to further trouble for Democratic candidates in the upcoming Massachusetts gubernatorial election. If voters are not willing to elect Warren to the top of their ticket, it is hard to see how voters will ever accept her as the next governor.
Governor Charlie Baker is one of the most popular governors in the country. President Trump owes Baker nothing, since the Republican governor scored an impressive, as yet untested, approval rating at 60 percent.
Assuming that Governor Baker is elected to a second term, he will face the next most popular statewide executive in the country. She is Gina Raimondo, who defeated Bob Massie in the 2010 gubernatorial election by securing a 54 percent approval rating and an overwhelming 61 percent favorability rating. She was the second most popular governor in the country, trailing only Andrew Cuomo of New York. If Baker successfully opposes Raimondo, the two governors in New England could become the most popular non-governors in the country. Governor Baker’s race is shaping up to be one of the most competitive political contests in the country.
Prior to becoming governor, Baker served as the attorney general of Massachusetts. Governor Baker will run for reelection next year in a race that, unless he unexpectedly moves to the left, is likely to see him face off against Raimondo for a second term.
If Baker loses, there is a good chance that he will soon leave the state. A New York Times report said the governor was considering becoming mayor of Norfolk, about 40 miles east of Boston.
Even if he was unsuccessful in pursuing a mayoralty, Baker could not be considered a disappointing governor. Despite having a Democratic legislature, Governor Baker has recently delivered his first balanced state budget since he took office. He has implemented a legislative pay freeze, rolled back the earned income tax credit, increased the minimum wage and implemented an employee purchasing power plan for State workers.
While the governor needs to be a strong commander and decision-maker, it’s unlikely that Baker, a white male, would be invited back as a commander in chief. If Governor Baker were not the most popular governor in the country, he would certainly not be in the running to become the most popular president.
Mark Massie is the director of public affairs for the National Republican Governors Association.