Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Thoughts on the Maryland Primary

The headline of course is the Romney sweep of Maryland. Romney won the state and all 8 congressional districts. He won every county accept for Somerset and Garrett. Add that to the Wisconsin (and DC) win and this race is over - whether Rick Santorum wants to admit it or not. Santorum was strongest where one would expect - western MD, southern MD, and the eastern shore. But in those areas he was not a s strong as he should've been. He won Garrett but lost Allegany. In the south he ran well in St. Mary's but was crushed in Calvert, a pattern repeated on the shore. Romney won the state by 20 points and is on the cusp of 50% of the vote in a 4 man race. Maryland delivered the nomination to Romney.

In the Senate contest between Ben Cardin and Anthony Muse, Muse failed catch fire. Muse claimed 16% of the vote, but only ran strong in his home base of Prince Georges county - where he pulled nearly 40% of the vote. In Baltimore City he finished shy of 20%. Muse should've focused his efforts on Baltimore City.  That said, Cardin received just under 75% of the vote and received 42,000 fewer votes than President Obama.

In 1970, incumbent Democratic Senator Joseph Tydings was seeking reelection against a relatively unknown GOP challenger. That same election Governor Marvin Mandel was running and widely expected to win comfortably. Indeed Mandel did win, but a sufficient number of voters withheld their vote from Tydings (he had taken some actions that angered the party base) that he narrowly lost the race. Cardin needs to find out why 25% of voting Democrats opted for someone else. Cardin was weakest in Baltimore City, Charles County and Prince Georges County - clearly suggesting a weakness with African American voters. The lesson to learn for Joseph Tydings is that Cardin cannot take for granted that folks who turnout in November 2012 to vote for President Obama will vote for Cardin as well. Cardin is the clear favorite to win, but there is an opening for the GOP nominee Dan Bongino.

The other big story of the night was in the newly drawn 6th Congressional District. The 6th district had been a reliably Republican district, but Maryland Senate President Mike Miller redrew the district specifically for MD Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola. He took care to draw the boundaries such that potential challengers lived outside the district. Garagiola had the backing of state Democratic party establishment including Steny Hoyer and Martin O'Malley. But he was crushed last night by John Delaney. Delaney has never held elective office and - to add insult to injury - he doesn't even live in the district. This was an embarrassing defeat for many Democratic bigwigs, especially O'Malley. Delaney was endorsed by current O'Malley foil Comptroller Peter Franchot. Delaney's victory raises questions about O'Malley's level of influence in the state and boosts Franchot's expected run for governor in 2014.

Another very interesting aspect of the 6th district contest was the number of Republicans and Democrats voting. As redrawn Democrats hold a voter registration advantage over Republicans of 183,000 to 141,000, with "Unaffiliated/Other" at about 90,000. The real contest in the 6th was in the Democratic primary as everyone expected GOP incumbent Roscoe Bartlett to win. Yet in this newly created Democratic district with a hard fought Democratic contest more Republicans cast ballots. In every other district (except the conservative 1st) Democrats outvoted Republicans - but not in the 6th. Come November, the presence of several high profile ballot measures (same-sex marriage, the MD Dream Act, and possibly even the new Congressional Districts) will boost turnout by Republicans and social conservatives. At this point, I would not be surprised to see the GOP hold onto the 6th district seat.