Can Republican Larry Hogan replicate his winning coalition in deep-blue Maryland?

If Larry Hogan is going to defy the odds and net Republicans a U.S. Senate seat in sapphire-blue Maryland, he's going to need the support of voters like Elizabeth Miller.

Miller told ABC News at an early voting site in Potomac, Maryland, earlier this month that she aligns with Democrats and voted in the party's primary -- but she's still deciding who to vote for in November.

"Larry Hogan, I think, has done a lot of good things for the state of Maryland in the past. A lot of members of my family are major supporters of Larry Hogan," Miller said. "I don't know yet how I'm gonna vote."

MORE: 5 takeaways from Tuesday's primaries: Alsobrooks, Hogan to face off in Maryland Senate race

She did not vote for Hogan in his first race to be Maryland's GOP governor, but did back him in his 2018 reelection bid after being impressed with his ability to "get things done."

She said she also voted for Rep. David Trone in the primary earlier this week, who fell short in the Democratic primary to Prince George's County Angela Alsobrooks, because she thought he'd give Hogan a tougher challenge.

Miller's decision, and those of voters like her, will be instructive for Hogan as the popular two-term former GOP governor runs for the state's open Senate seat by hoping to replicate the coalition of Republicans, independents and moderate Democrats that first sent him to Annapolis.

It has worked before: Hogan won by about 5 points in 2014 and 12 points in 2018, and he left with sky-high approval ratings. He'll bring high name recognition to the November ballot again, and he's universally considered the only Republican who can make the race against Alsobrooks remotely competitive, with his reputation for centrism and penchant for criticizing former President Donald Trump.

Now, though, he's running for a federal office in a presidential election year when broader Senate control is up for grabs and in a state where President Joe Biden is anticipated to romp after taking Maryland by more than 33 points in 2020.

Republicans in Washington, at least, are high on Hogan. Privately and publicly, operatives mention Maryland's Senate race as being in the top tier of contests this year, ahead of elections in more purple states such as Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin.

MORE: Maryland 2024 primary results: Biden, Trump projected winners

"Marylanders, they've proven time after time after time they trust the [governor], they trust Larry Hogan. I think that's what's going to happen again. What [Democrats] have to do is convince a bunch of moderate Democrats and independents who've liked Larry Hogan for over a decade that they're actually wrong about him. That's not an easy thing to do," said Doug Mayer, a former senior Hogan aide.

To generate the cross-party support he needs, Hogan is doubling down on his moderate bona fides.

Hogan speaks positively of some Democrats, including praising Sen. Ben Cardin's, D-Md., support for Israel unprompted when speaking with a Potomac voter about the Israel-Gaza War. After previously dodging the question, Hogan also said Thursday that he would vote to codify Roe v. Wade.

And one of his first ads released after the primaries featured praise from Democratic Gov. Wes Moore, Biden and Alsobrooks, including over his disagreements with Trump.

"I feel like it's more common sense than just playing politics along party lines. He seems to think for himself, which most people aren't doing," said Robert Hiller, a high school teacher who has voted for Biden, Moore and Hogan in the past and said he will vote for Hogan again this year.

Hogan will also have to bring along virtually every single Republican given the daunting math he faces in Maryland, something that might not be a given after high-profile clashes with Trump, the GOP's standard bearer. Even though Hogan coasted to the Republican nomination, about 38% of GOP primary voters backed someone else in Tuesday's primary race.

"There's a certain group of the base that will never forgive anybody that doesn't support Donald Trump," one Maryland GOP strategist who supports Hogan conceded.

PHOTO: Larry Hogan greeting people at an early voting site in Potomac, Md. (Tal Axelrod/ABC News)
PHOTO: Larry Hogan greeting people at an early voting site in Potomac, Md. (Tal Axelrod/ABC News)

In Baltimore County, though, Trump voters who came out to support Hogan didn't seem too turned off by past clashes.

"It does turn me off somewhat -- but not enough to vote for a Democrat," said Lynn Kruft, a Hogan supporter who described herself as a "very stringent Donald Trump fan."

Despite all his strengths, though, Hogan faces fearsome headwinds in overcoming the state's partisan bend -- and even he's not sure he can pull out a win.

"Well, I'm not sure that I can," he told ABC News in Potomac when asked what makes him think he can replicate his past coalitions. "I've always beaten the odds, but there's no question, I am the underdog again, and this will be the hardest challenge that I've ever had."

Maryland is already hostile territory for any Republican.

There are more than 2.2 million registered Democrats there, compared with just shy of 995,000 registered Republicans and 909,000 unaffiliated voters.

And running in a presidential election year with two polarizing White House contenders topping the ticket and any one Senate race possibly deciding chamber control nationalizes the race in a way Hogan hasn't faced before.

Besides talking about taxes, Hogan will be pressed repeatedly on Trump and how a theoretical Senate majority would handle issues such as abortion -- even though he himself has taken a stance against a federal ban.

"Larry Hogan has said he's a 'lifelong Republican,' and if he's elected, he'll give Republicans the majority they need to pass a national abortion ban," Alsobrooks said in her victory speech Tuesday.

And the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Tuesday night promptly released a digital ad elevating Hogan's vow to caucus with the GOP in the Senate echoing that he's a "lifelong Republican."

PHOTO: Larry Hogan talking with supporters in Cockeysville, Md. (Tal Axelrod/ABC News)
PHOTO: Larry Hogan talking with supporters in Cockeysville, Md. (Tal Axelrod/ABC News)

Mackenzie Kinol, a high school senior who's voting in her first election this year, said Democratic control in the Senate is a "big deal" for her.

"The majority is just huge, especially with the upcoming election with the possibility of Trump being president. That's my main focus," Kinol said.

The political graveyard is filled with politicians who bucked the political leaning of their state to become popular governors only to lose races for the Senate, including most recently, former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a well-liked Democrat who lost his state's Senate race in 2018.

Bredesen had "great approval numbers, great nostalgia for where he was, but as we got closer and closer to election day, voters started putting on their jerseys," said GOP pollster Robert Blizzard, who polled the 2018 Tennessee race.

"And so, I think Larry Hogan is probably the one candidate this cycle that has the best chance of winning in such unfriendly territory, but given the extreme polarization we're facing as a country and the way ticket splitting has declined over recent presidential years, it's certainly going to be a challenging race."

MORE: Biden asserts executive privilege over audio of interview with special counsel Hur

Democratic strategists are betting that liberal voters will put on their partisan jerseys again.

With such proximity to Washington and so many residents working for the federal government, Maryland boasts an electorate atypically attuned to the ramifications of a Senate majority for either party.

"People totally understand national politics in a different way than they do in other states" said Maryland Democratic strategist Martha McKenna. "It's a very different formula, it's a very well-educated electorate, and I think it's a difficult proposition for Hogan."

Still, Senate control isn't enough to entirely cast Hogan off, at least for some voters like Miller, the Democratic-aligned voter, who said "absolutely" the chamber's majority is an issue for her. She praised Hogan's record and support for abortion access as "meaningful."

"I think this time around what's giving me pause is the impact, potentially, on the greater composition of our political sphere," she said. "Right now, it's really hard for me to support Republican candidates in general."

Can Republican Larry Hogan replicate his winning coalition in deep-blue Maryland? originally appeared on