GOFFSTOWN, New Hampshire – As Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan weighs whether to mount a primary challenge to Donald Trump for the Republican nomination for president in 2020, he might want to look to young voters to boost his chances.
Among the audience of business and political leaders at Hogan’s “Politics & Eggs” event earlier this week at Saint Anselm College here were several college students who were interested in hearing what the governor had to say.
“I wanted to see (Hogan) first-hand,” said Kevin Chrisom, a freshman politics major at Saint Anselm. “The way he’s been able, in his five years as governor so far, to be so bipartisan…is very impressive.”
According to a recent Harvard University Institute of Politics poll, more young voters said they will vote in the 2020 primaries than they did in 2016. Forty-three percent of voters aged 18 to 29 said they would vote in the primaries, compared to 36 percent four years ago.
Further, Generation Z, those who will be 18 to 23 years old in 2020, will comprise 10 percent of the total electorate, up from six percent in 2016, according to the Pew Research Center.
Looking at the 2020 race, Hogan might find an opportunity to appeal to young Republicans, independents and moderate Democrats in states with open primaries with his bipartisan, pragmatic style of governance.
“He’s delivered the results (in Maryland),” said Brendan Flaherty, a sophomore politics major at Saint Anselm. “He can point to things that he’s done that truly benefit young people.”
Hogan has already said that he would target states with open primaries, in which voters don’t have to be registered with a political party in order to vote for a partisan candidate.
“Here in New Hampshire, for example, they like to be independent, they like to look at the candidates and kick the tires and meet people one-on-one,” Hogan told reporters after his speech. “I’m pretty good at retail politics.”
Students also pointed to Hogan’s genuine personality and endearing personal story — he successfully battled advanced non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma during his first term — as attributes that would appeal to young voters.
“I admire his leadership abilities, his strength,” Flaherty said. “As long as he doesn’t really stray too far from who he is, I think he’ll do just fine.”
Should Hogan mount a primary challenge to Trump, one of his first objectives would be to increase his name recognition.
Although he is popular in Maryland, enjoying a 69 percent approval rating in a deep-blue state, he would need to raise his profile at the national level.
Speaking at high-profile events like “Politics & Eggs,” where he can reach a large number of young people interested in the political process, is a good start, students said.
“Obviously New Hampshire is a big state for elections if he wants to run,” said Jordan Cook, a sophomore politics and history major at Saint Anselm. “So I think he just really needs to travel state-to-state and go to events like this where there’s young, passionate people like us that are interested in politics. Hopefully that will get his name out.”
Hogan revealed at the political breakfast that he intends to visit 16 more states in the next few months, in addition to the 10 he has already visited, in order to “continue listening” to people encouraging him to make a bid for the nomination.
“Keep coming to these events, keep coming to colleges, get the young people out — Republicans, independents, even moderate Democrats,” said Chrisom. “Just keep speaking to young people and going to events, I think is the greatest way to raise his profile.”