In 1872, he won his first election, to the New Jersey General Assembly. He was also later elected to the state Senate, and at times was the leader of each of those bodies.
In 1896, Hobart was nominated for Vice President on William McKinley's ticket, and they took office in March 1897. As the 24th Vice President, however, Hobart's tenure was brief. He died in November 1899 of a heart ailment he'd been suffering since before taking office. His death, at the age of 55 years 171 days, makes him the third youngest Vice President to die.