Monday, October 27, 2014

Early Vote Turnout Analysis, Hillary Clinton in MD, Brown vs. Hogan Polls, Raskin vs. Zirkin for JPR Committee Chair & More!

Below Maryland Juice provides a roundup of news and analyses of key races of interest to politicos:

JUICE #1: DUELING POLLS IN THE RACE BETWEEN ANTHONY BROWN VS. LARRY HOGAN - Maryland's top race this cycle is undoubtedly the gubernatorial match-up between Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and former Ehrlich-administration official Larry Hogan. Here is a quick round-up of recent polls in the race. Note: the Gonzalez poll below was commissioned by supporters of Larry Hogan:
NEW YORK TIMES-CBS-YOUGOV (10/23/14) - BROWN +13
  • Anthony Brown (D) - 51%
  • Larry Hogan (R) - 38%

BALTIMORE SUN (10/11/14) - BROWN +7%
  • Anthony Brown (D) - 49%
  • Larry Hogan (R) - 42%

WASHINGTON POST (10/6/14) - BROWN +9%
  • Anthony Brown (D) - 47%
  • Larry Hogan (R) - 38%
  • Shawn Quinn (L) - 4%

GONZALEZ RESEARCH (10/1/14) - BROWN +4%
  • Anthony Brown (D) - 47%
  • Larry Hogan (R) - 43%
  • Shawn Quinn (L) - 1%

JUICE #2: MARYLAND JUICE EARLY VOTE TURNOUT ANALYSIS // WHO'S BEEN VOTING? - Below Maryland Juice takes a deep dive into early vote turnout data by party, gender, and county -- and we also give breakdowns in all Montgomery County state races, a few swing districts and in key Maryland counties. Early voting is currently underway in Maryland, as voters can cast early ballots until Thursday, October 30, 2014. Polls are open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm at early vote centers across the state. Who has been voting early in the Free State? Below you can see some of our findings from turnout data for the first three days of early voting (Thursday, Friday & Saturday).

EARLY VOTE TURNOUT BY COUNTY & PARTY: Below we take a look at early vote turnout by raw party advantage and by county turnout. Not surprisingly, Democrats are turning out at an almost 2-1 rate over Republicans, reflecting their statewide registration advantage. As a result, the top raw turnout counties are not surprising (Baltimore, Prince George's, Anne Arundel, Montgomery, etc). But in terms of the % of eligible voters casting ballots, Montgomery County is near the bottom of the state, along with Baltimore City. Though you cannot assume all Democrats will vote for Brown and all Republicans will vote for Hogan, the data reflect mixed news for Democrats. The party can try and coast on its registration advantage, but the low turnout %'s in heavy Democratic counties should be seen as a call to arms. Montgomery County is seriously lagging in % turnout (again, probably owing to the fact that the large numbers of new MoCo voters who registered over the last few years are not turning out at the polls):
2014 Early Vote Turnout by Party (First 3 Days):
  1. Democrats = 62,765
  2. Republicans = 29,533
  3. Independents = 8,275
2010 Early Vote Turnout by Party (First 3 Days):
  1. Democrats = 60,547
  2. Republicans = 26,146
  3. Independents = 7,508
2014 Early Vote Turnout - Top 8 Counties by Raw Turnout (First 3 Days):
  1. Baltimore County = 16,893 (3.25%)
  2. Prince George's = 14,004 (2.58%)
  3. Anne Arundel = 12,930 (3.7%)
  4. Montgomery = 11,271 (1.78%)
  5. Baltimore City = 8,413 (2.25%)
  6. Howard = 7,064 (3.62%)
  7. Harford = 6,301 (3.83%)
  8. Frederick = 3,712 (2.46%)
2014 Early Vote Turnout - All Counties Ranked by % Eligible Turnout (First 3 Days):
  1. Talbot = 1,651 (6.43%)
  2. Queen Anne's = 1,885 (5.68%)
  3. Kent = 719 (5.65%)
  4. Worcester = 1,415 (3.96%)
  5. Harford = 6,301 (3.83%)
  6. Somerset = 486 (3.74%)
  7. Anne Arundel = 12,930 (3.7%)
  8. Howard = 7,064 (3.62%)
  9. Wicomico = 1,859 (3.28%)
  10. Baltimore County = 16,893 (3.25%)
  11. Caroline = 577 (3.14%)
  12. Dorchester = 582 (2.84%)
  13. Calvert = 1,672 (2.79%)
  14. Prince George's = 14,004 (2.58%)
  15. Frederick = 3,712 (2.46%)
  16. Carroll = 2,751 (2.44%)
  17. Cecil = 1,491 (2.41%)
  18. Garrett = 460 (2.38%)
  19. Saint Mary's = 1,466 (2.27%)
  20. Baltimore City = 8,413 (2.25%)
  21. Charles = 2,069 (2.06%)
  22. Montgomery = 11,271 (1.78%)
  23. Washington = 1,279 (1.42%)
  24. Allegany = 587 (1.38%)
EARLY VOTE BY GENDER & PARTY: Below we take a look at the first three days of early vote turnout by gender and party. Statewide, women are turning out in larger numbers than men, a trend which clearly benefits Democrats. Women make up almost 60% of the Democrats early voting electorate, while men are a majority of Republican and Independent early vote turnout:
2014 Early Vote Turnout by Gender (First 3 Days):
  1. Women = 54,759
  2. Men = 46,778
2014 Early Vote Turnout - Democrats by Gender = 62,765:
  1. Democrats Female = 36,787 (58.6%)
  2. Democrats Male = 25,967 (41.1%)
2014 Early Vote Turnout - Republicans by Gender = 29,533 
  1. Republicans Female = 14,078 (47.7%)
  2. Republicans Male = 15,447 (52.3%)
2014 Early Vote Turnout - Independents by Gender = 8,275 
  1. Independents Female = 3,522 (42.6%)
  2. Independents Male = 4,747 (57.4%)
EARLY VOTE TURNOUT BY AGE AND PARTY: Below we take a look at the first three days of early vote turnout, sorted by age and party. The largest block of early voters is age 65+, with almost equal numbers of early voters from the large 45-64 demographic. In every age category, Democrats are turning out in larger numbers than Republicans. But again, you cannot assume that voters are going to vote party-line:
2014 Early Vote Turnout - Ages 18-24 = 2,363
  1. Democrats 18-24 = 1,249
  2. Republicans 18-24 = 736
  3. Independents 18-24 = 349
  4. Libertarians 18-24 = 15
  5. Greens 18-24 = 4
2014 Early Vote Turnout - Ages 25-44 = 10,775 
  1. Democrats 25-44 = 6,170
  2. Republicans 25-44 = 2,992
  3. Independents 25-44 = 1,459
  4. Libertarians 25-44 = 64
  5. Greens 25-44 = 23
2014 Early Vote Turnout - Ages 45-64 = 43,605
  1. Democrats 45-64 = 26,465
  2. Republicans 45-64 = 13,057
  3. Independents 45-64 = 3,668
  4. Libertarians 45-64 = 75
  5. Greens 25-44 = 55
2014 Early Vote Turnout - Ages 65+ = 44,794 
  1. Democrats 65+ = 28,881
  2. Republicans 65+ = 12,748
  3. Independents 65+ = 2,799
  4. Libertarians 65+ = 36
  5. Greens 65+ = 14
EARLY VOTE BY PARTY IN THE TOP 8 TURNOUT COUNTIES: Below we take a look at early vote turnout in the top 8 highest turnout counties. In 7 of 8 of these counties, Democrats are turning out in much higher numbers than Republicans. In Harford County, Republicans have a slight edge of roughly 300 votes over the Democrats. Though you can't quite assume that all Democrats will vote for their County Executive candidates, the county-level turnout may be reassuring news for Democrats in some of the competitive County Exec races. Some of the turnout numbers are tight enough to warrant extra energy from Dems:
Anne Arundel Early Vote Turnout by Party (First 3 Days):
  1. Democrats = 6,169
  2. Republicans = 5,282
  3. Independents = 1,433
Baltimore City Early Vote Turnout by Party (First 3 Days):
  1. Democrats = 7,636
  2. Republicans = 417
  3. Independents = 326
Baltimore County Early Vote Turnout by Party (First 3 Days):
  1. Democrats = 11,259
  2. Republicans = 4,334
  3. Independents = 1,090
Frederick County Early Vote Turnout by Party (First 3 Days):
  1. Democrats = 1,698
  2. Republicans = 1,538
  3. Independents = 460
Harford County Early Vote Turnout by Party (First 3 Days):
  1. Republicans = 2,967
  2. Democrats = 2,657
  3. Independents = 602
Howard County Early Vote Turnout by Party (First 3 Days):
  1. Democrats = 4,167
  2. Republicans = 2,035
  3. Independents = 775
Montgomery County Early Vote Turnout by Party (First 3 Days):
  1. Democrats = 7,909
  2. Republicans = 1,962
  3. Independents = 1,295
Prince George's County Early Vote Turnout by Party (First 3 Days):
  1. Democrats = 12,443
  2. Republicans = 878
  3. Independents = 507
EARLY VOTE TURNOUT IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY DELEGATE RACES: In all 8 of Montgomery County's House of Delegate Districts, Democrats are turning out in far greater numbers than Republicans. My home District 20 has the highest Democratic turnout in MoCo, and here Independents are tied with Republicans for turnout. Meanwhile District 14 has the highest overall turnout (counting all parties):
Maryland House District 14 Early Vote Turnout by Party = 1,953 Total Votes
  1. Democrats = 1,258
  2. Republicans = 472
  3. Independents = 317
  4. Libertarians = 3
  5. Greens = 0
Maryland House District 15 Early Vote Turnout by Party = 1,161 Total Votes 
  1. Democrats = 709
  2. Republicans = 275
  3. Independents = 163
  4. Libertarians = 5
  5. Greens = 1
Maryland House District 16 Early Vote Turnout by Party = 1,092 Total Votes 
  1. Democrats = 796
  2. Republicans = 171
  3. Independents = 119
  4. Libertarians = 2
  5. Greens = 0
Maryland House District 17 Early Vote Turnout by Party = 1,242 Total Votes 
  1. Democrats = 835
  2. Republicans = 234
  3. Independents = 161
  4. Libertarians = 2
  5. Greens = 2
Maryland House District 18 Early Vote Turnout by Party = 1,335 Total Votes 
  1. Democrats = 999
  2. Republicans = 182
  3. Independents = 136
  4. Greens = 6
  5. Libertarians = 0
Maryland House District 19 Early Vote Turnout by Party = 1,676 Total Votes 
  1. Democrats = 1,220
  2. Republicans = 257
  3. Independents = 183
  4. Greens = 4
  5. Libertarians = 3
Maryland House District 20 Early Vote Turnout by Party = 1,741 Total Votes 
  1. Democrats = 1,425
  2. Republicans = 148
  3. Independents = 148
  4. Greens = 7
  5. Libertarians = 3
Maryland House District 39 Early Vote Turnout by Party = 1,070 Total Votes 
  1. Democrats = 666
  2. Republicans = 222
  3. Independents = 170
  4. Libertarians = 3
  5. Greens = 1
EARLY VOTE TURNOUT IN A FEW SWING RACES: Below we provide early vote turnout figures and party breakdowns in a few key races on the November ballot. Democratic turnout from the first three days of early voting looks okay across the board, but there are a couple districts where the party needs to turn up the heat!

Senate District 3 Early Vote Turnout by Party (Ron Young vs. Corey Stottlemyer) 
  1. Democrats = 1,091
  2. Republicans = 719
  3. Independents = 246
Senate District 42 Early Vote Turnout by Party (Jim Brochin vs. Tim Robinson)
  1. Democrats = 1,062
  2. Republicans = 683
  3. Independents = 153
Delegate District 9B Early Vote Turnout by Party (Tom Coale vs. Bob Flanagan) 
  1. Democrats = 742
  2. Republicans = 506
  3. Independents = 158
Delegate District 12 (Eric Ebersole/Terri Hill/Clarence Lam vs. Gordon Bull/Joe Hooe/Rick Martel)
  1. Democrats = 1,773
  2. Republicans = 566
  3. Independents = 220
Delegate District 29B (John Bohanan vs. Deb Rey)
  1. Democrats = 190
  2. Republicans = 158
  3. Independents = 40
Delegate District 30A Early Vote Turnout by Party (Mike Busch/Chuck Ferrar vs. Herb McMillan/Genevieve Lindner)
  1. Democrats = 1,384
  2. Republicans = 839
  3. Independents = 257
Delegate District 38B Early Vote Turnout by Party (Norm Conway vs. Carl Anderton Jr) 
  1. Democrats = 430
  2. Republicans = 388
  3. Independents = 85

JUICE #3: NATIONAL PARTIES NOW SPENDING IN MARYLAND // PLUS: OBAMA, CHRIS CHRISTIE & THE CLINTONS CAMPAIGN IN MD - As we head into the homestretch for Maryland's gubernatorial race, the national Democrats & Republicans are engaging in a proxy battle in the Free State. Here are a few signs of activity from national politicians:
HILLARY CLINTON TO RALLY FOR ANTHONY BROWN THIS THURSDAY: So far Lt. Governor Anthony Brown's campaign has brought President Obama and former President Bill Clinton onto the campaign trail in Maryland. This Thursday, they are continuing the proxy battle with a rally with Hillary Clinton (press release excerpt below). You can RSVP at: http://www.anthonybrown.com/Oct30

This event is free – supporters will be admitted on a first come, first served basis. Space is limited and supporters must RSVP at www.anthonybrown.com/Oct30, or pick up tickets at a Democratic office listed here: www.anthonybrown.com/offices.

Who: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, County Executive Ken Ulman, and the Maryland Democratic Team

What: Early Vote event – Final push before polls close at 8 p.m. (Nearest Early Vote location is the College Park Community Center at 5051 Pierce Avenue, College Park, MD)

When: Thursday, October 30th, Doors open to the public at 2:45 pm

Where: University of Maryland College Park, Ritchie Coliseum, 4533 Rossborough Lane, College 
Hillary Clinton's visit comes on the heels of an Anthony Brown rally with President Obama (see TV news coverage) and a fundraiser with President Bill Clinton (see TV ad w/ Bill Clinton). Meanwhile, Larry Hogan has enlisted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (see TV coverage) to campaign for him in the Free State.

NATIONAL PARTY TV AD WARS: Meanwhile, the Democratic Governor's Association (aka DGA) has now spent at least $1.15 million in deep Blue Maryland to shore up the Brown campaign. The Washington Post reported on the ad buys (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: The DGA previously spent about $750,000 on three weeks of ads in the Baltimore market that attack Hogan’s record on social issues, including his past opposition to abortion rights.... The latest DGA outlay in the heavily Democratic state will keep ads on the air on Baltimore stations through mid-October. The purchase appears to be roughly $400,000, based on publicly available records and people familiar with the buy....
To counter the DGA, the Republican Governor's Association (aka the RGA) has bought airtime in Maryland. The Baltimore Sun reported on the news (excerpt below):
BALTIMORE SUN: The RGA's intervention in the race in deep-blue Maryland reflects a growing hope in GOP circles that Hogan can score an upset despite the state's 2-1 Democratic registration advantage. The RGA's chairman, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, campaigned and raised funds for Hogan this week on his second visit to Maryland on Hogan's behalf. lRelated Distortions fly in race for governor POLITICS Distortions fly in race for governor SEE ALL RELATED 8 According to filings with the Federal Communication Commission, the RGA will spend $166,515 to advertise on WJZ-TV. The ad the group released Thursday is a 30-second spot rattling off taxes, fares and other charges that have gone up under Brown and Gov. Martin O'Malley....

JUICE #4: SENATORS RASKIN & ZIRKIN BATTLING FOR CHAIR OF JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS COMMITTEE - One of the non-election stories politicos are currently following is the battle between State Senators Jamie Raskin & Bobby Zirkin for Chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee. After all, not all of the hot races this year are electoral battles -- some of them relate to the assignment of leadership posts. This November, State Senator Brian Frosh is all but certain to be elected Maryland's next Attorney General, but Frosh also chairs the Senate's Judicial Proceedings Committee (aka JPR). With his looming departure from that post, Senate President Mike Miller will soon have to choose a replacement. Center Maryland columnist Josh Kurtz recently highlighted the basics of the JPR battle (excerpt below):
JOSH KURTZ VIA CENTER MARYLAND: At first glance – and maybe even at second and third glance – it’s a no-brainer: A Harvard-educated constitutional scholar vs. a guy who advertises his ability to win dog bite cases prominently on his law firm website. Put another way, it’s a choice between a lawyer who wrote a best-selling book about the Supreme Court and a lawmaker who introduced a bill that would have prevented the wife of an Annapolis lobbyist from serving on the Baltimore County school board because the lawmaker didn’t like a natural gas pipeline project in his neighborhood that the lobbyist’s firm was promoting....

By all accounts, the battle is between Montgomery County Sen. Jamie Raskin (D), an American University law professor and constitutional scholar, and Baltimore County Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D), the trial lawyer and pipeline foe. But [Senate President Mike] Miller’s decision isn’t as easy as one might expect given the two contenders’ credentials, because this is not an academic exercise – and the chairmanship of JPR is anything but an academic position. In fact, it’s become a major dilemma for Miller, the longest-serving Senate president on Planet Earth who once held the JPR gavel himself....
WILL MOCO & LIBERALS HAVE A ROLE IN THE STATE SENATE? - But there is much more to the JPR battle than just the resumes of Senators Raskin & Zirkin. The decision has much to do with the trajectory of the chamber, and Montgomery County's role in the future of the State Senate. With the exit of Senator Brian Frosh and the retirement of former Majority Leader Rob Garagiola, Montgomery County may soon be without any Senator in a senior leadership position in the state's upper chamber.

Moreover, with the ever-increasing liberal bent to Maryland's Democratic electorate, the JPR battle foreshadows whether progressives in the State Senate will be given a correspondingly larger voice in the body. On this point, there are some similarities and some differences in voting record between Raskin & Zirkin. Most notably, Zirkin voted against the Dream Act while Raskin supported the bill. The two Senators also disagree on whether landlords should be able to discriminate against tenants based on the form of payment for rent (eg: housing vouchers for veterans and low income residents). Raskin opposes discrimination against form of payment, while Zirkin supports it.

That being said, both Senators voted for marriage equality and both support marijuana legalization. Both Senators also voted against corporate welfare for Lockheed Martin, and Zirkin ultimately joined Raskin in supporting death penalty repeal and transgender non-discrimination. In any case, we will likely not know how this story plays out until after the General Election is concluded.


JUICE #5: LOW PROFILE BALLOT QUESTIONS FACING VOTERS IN NOVEMBER // TRANSPORTATION LOCK BOX, COUNTY EXEC SPECIAL ELECTIONS & MORE - In addition to the state and county races on the ballot this year, there are some fairly interesting (albeit low-profile) ballot questions facing voters. We discuss the two statewide ballot questions and a Montgomery County-specific ballot question below:
QUESTION 1: SHOULD MARYLAND LOCK-BOX ITS TRANSPORTATION FUNDS? - This ballot question asks voters whether state lawmakers should be prohibited from spending transportation dollars on non-transportation budget items. The measure was placed on the ballot by the General Assembly as part of the gas tax negotiations during the last legislative session. The lockbox on the transportation trust fund dollars could be overturned through at 60% vote of the legislature during a fiscal emergency. A vote "for" Question 1, is a vote for the lockbox and is recommended by a diverse range of groups including the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, Progressive Neighbors, The Baltimore Sun, The Gazette, various Chambers of Commerce, the carpenters union and supporters of the Red Line, Purple Line and CCT.
QUESTION 2: SHOULD MARYLAND ALLOW COUNTIES TO FILL COUNTY EXEC VACANCIES THROUGH SPECIAL ELECTIONS? - This ballot question asks voters whether Maryland should authorize counties to fill vacancies in the office of County Executive through special elections instead of appointments. In Montgomery County, for example, a County Exec vacancy would currently be filled through a vote of five members of the County Council. A vote "for" Question 2 is a vote to allow counties to use special elections and is recommended by the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee and Progressive Neighbors.
MOCO QUESTION A: SHOULD MOCO REQUIRE COUNCILMEMBERS TO LIVE IN THEIR DISTRICT AT THE TIME OF A PRIMARY, GENERAL & VACANCY? - This ballot question asks voters in Montgomery County whether candidates for District-based County Council seats must reside in their district at the time of a Primary Election and General Election or at the time a vacancy occurs. A vote "for" Question A is a vote to require residency and is recommended by the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee and Progressive Neighbors.

JUICE #6: MONTGOMERY COUNTY APPROVES PUBLIC FINANCING FOR COUNTY RACES STARTING IN THE 2018 CYCLE - One major game-changer to local politics is that Montgomery County Councilmembers recently voted unanimously to adopt a "clean elections" public financing system for county races. The County Council sent the following press release discussing how the new system works (excerpt below):
MONTGOMERY COUNTY COUNCIL: The Montgomery County Council today unanimously enacted Bill 16-14, which will allow candidates for County Council and County Executive to qualify for partial public financing for their campaigns. This is the first measure of its type for County elective offices in the Washington Region and in the State of Maryland.... The bill would establish a Public Election Fund. To qualify for public financing, a candidate would have to:
  • File a Notice of Intent prior to collecting qualifying contributions
  • Establish a publicly funded campaign account
  • Only accept contributions from an individual of between $5 and $150
  • Refuse to accept a contribution from any group or organization, including a political action committee, a corporation, a labor organization or a State or local central action committee of a political party
  • Collect a qualifying number of contributions from County residents: 500 for County Executive candidates, 250 for at-large Council candidates and 125 for district Council candidates
  • Meet qualifying dollar thresholds of $40,000 for County Executive, $20,000 for at-large Councilmember and $10,000 for district CouncilmemberLimits are indexed to inflation
  • Only contributions from County residents are eligible for matching funds
The plan provides strong incentives for candidates to seek out many small individual contributors. Matching public dollars for County Executive candidates would be $6 for each dollar of the first $50 of a qualifying contribution received from a County resident, $4 for each dollar for the second $50 and $2 for each remaining dollar received up to the maximum contribution. Matching dollars for County Council candidates would be $4 for each dollar of the first $50 received from a County resident, $3 for each dollar for the second $50 and $2 for each remaining dollar received up to the maximum contribution.

The maximum limit on public funds per candidate for either the primary election or the general election will be $750,000 for a County Executive candidate, $250,000 for a Council at-large candidate and $125,000 for a district Council candidate. Matching dollars would not be distributed for self/spouse contributions or to candidates running unopposed.
Advocates are hopeful that the "clean elections" push will soon spread to other states and hopefully be adopted for state elections in coming years.

That's it until next time!

GUEST POST: Warning from Former MoCo Planning Board Chair Gus Bauman on the MD vs. VA Transportation Battle

Former Montgomery County Planning Board Chair Gus Bauman provided Maryland Juice the following guest post on the transportation infrastructure race between Maryland and Virginia. His comments below were sent in two batches to County officials (once in 2009 and later in 2014). You can read his thoughts on the challenges facing Maryland below, triggered by the opening of the Northern Virginia WMATA Silver Line this past July:
GUS BAUMAN (CIRCA 2014): To the County Executive, Council Members, Planning Board Members: Tomorrow, July 26, 2014, at high noon, Montgomery County’s future will, in my judgment, have reached a tipping point. The Silver Line’s first phase to Tysons and Reston opens; five new Metro stations in prime areas of Fairfax County will change everything. Then it’s on to Dulles Airport.

Recently, DC opened a new Metro station at NoMa. Development is exploding there. Alexandria, for its part, is nailing down the location of its new Metro station at the growing urban center of Potomac Yard. In short, as I see it, the economic future of our region is increasingly concentrating along the Blue and Orange and now Silver Lines. The cultural vibrancy of the DC area is rapidly consolidating around places like U St., 14th St., Ballston, Clarendon. Tysons and Potomac Yard will invariably follow.

We must be candid with ourselves. Except for Silver Spring, Montgomery County has no place today that can realistically compete for the attentions and diverse demands of the all-important Uber Generation. I sent off a warning, called A Looming Challenge, about all this 4.5 years ago (see the attachment). We are now 4.5 years closer to our mutual future.
Gus Bauman's 2014 comments are a follow-up to the following letter (aka attachment) he sent county officials in 2009:
GUS BAUMAN (CIRCA 2009): Dear County Executive Leggett, County Council President Floreen and Council Members, Planning Board Chairman Hanson and Planning Board Members; In recent days, I have had the opportunity to tour several major transportation projects being built in the DC region and to review materials related to the forthcoming impacts of those projects. I have come to the conviction that the cumulative impacts of these projects are about to transform profoundly how people will view the DC region and, by extension, Montgomery County's place in it. Because of the geographic positioning of these projects and the singular timing of their arrival, how Montgomery County views its future may well need reassessment.

Consider the following.

Immediately to Montgomery County's west, in Fairfax County, Metrorail's Silver Line is well under construction. In 2013, a little over three years from now, four stations will open in Tysons Corner alone. That is akin to the Gallery Place, Metro Center, Farragut North, and Dupont Circle Red Line stations all opening at once. Simultaneously, the Capital Beltway HOT lanes are well under construction along a 14 mile corridor, centered on Tysons Corner, in northern Virginia. They are scheduled to open in 2012. Tysons Corner is then poised to commence massive redevelopment of its 3,200 acres.

To provide some sense of equivalent comparisons, downtown Bethesda covers 400 acres. The Life Sciences Center encompasses 900 acres. Immediately to Montgomery County's east, in Prince George's County, sits the future city of Konterra. It is ready to begin development once the Intercounty Connector (MD 200) interchanges with I-95. That will occur in 2012. Konterra covers 2,200 acres. Its ultimate scale will be enormous. Thus, just when we will likely have emerged from the Great Recession, the landscape we have been used to for so long will be radically changing on Montgomery County's western and eastern borders. Even before this coming upheaval in the region, looking at just one indicator of the long-current status quo should give one pause in Montgomery County. Already, of the 20 busiest Metrorail stations, fully 18 are in DC, Arlington County, and Fairfax County. Shady Grove is the 14th busiest and Silver Spring the 15th (Bethesda is the 21st). Once the Silver Line starts service in 2013 (and later continues westward to Dulles Airport), a more pronounced shift of the region's economic resources away from Montgomery County can reasonably be expected if current assumptions are not reexamined. And Konterra will likewise be pulling significant economic resources eastward.

Nothing I have stated is to begrudge our neighbors the creative initiatives they have embarked upon. It is all to their credit. But these huge initiatives, centered on imminent alterations to the region's transportation network west and east of Montgomery County, will likely shift the dynamic of growth, and life, within the County as well as the region. Of course, Montgomery County is not standing still. It also stands to gain from MD 200's interchange with I-270 as well as the County's plans for the I-270/MD 355 corridor.

Yet, I would respectfully suggest that the County's future-thinking needs to focus more on Montgomery's realworld position in a highly competitive region about to change dramatically on our borders. The looming challenge now posed by what is just around the corner should not be permitted to sap Montgomery County's viability within a strong region.
Mr. Bauman's comments mirror Maryland Juice's own worries about Virginia's significant investments in transit infrastructure in recent months.

Friday, August 15, 2014

JUICE: Analysis of Governor's Race Between Anthony Brown & Larry Hogan, MD Transportation Funding Crisis and More!

Below Maryland  Juice provides a round-up of news of interest to politicos:

JUICE #1: ANTHONY BROWN VS. LARRY HOGAN ANALYSIS // IS THIS GOING TO BE A CLOSE GUBERNATORIAL RACE? - Maryland Juice had been hearing about a poll for November's gubernatorial race allegedly showing Lt. Governor Anthony Brown ahead by only single digits against GOP activist Larry Hogan. I had not actually seen a copy of the polling memo, but earlier this week Center Maryland columnist Josh Kurtz wrote that he was shown a copy of the results (excerpt below):
CENTER MARYLAND: A recent statewide poll that was shared with me the other day, which was not conducted for either of the candidates for governor, showed Brown with a 46 percent to 40 percent lead over Hogan. The survey was taken by a highly reputable D.C.-based pollster who has vast experience querying Maryland voters. So, a 6-point lead. Not time to hit the panic button, if you’re a Democrat. But nothing to be too comfortable about, either. Could Brown lose? It’s hard to see at this point....
Previous polls in the Brown-Hogan race (as recent as July 2014) showed Brown with dougle-digit leads against Hogan, so I'm slightly skeptical about the accuracy of the supposed 6-digit Brown lead. It's hard to tell where that number is coming from without looking at the turnout modeling and the sample used in the new poll. If you have a copy of the results and care to share them, feel free to send them to david@marylandjuice.com.

RECENT HISTORY OF TURNOUT IN GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS: In the meantime, here are a few shorthand numbers showing the difficulties facing the Maryland GOP in November. First, in 2010 (the last gubernatorial General Election), we witnessed a match-up between two candidates who had both served as Governor: Martin O'Malley and Bob Ehrlich. Note that 2010 was a fairly low turnout election year, and we were then in the midst of the national Tea Party wave. Here's how many Democratic, Republican and unaffiliated voters turned out in 2010:
  • Democrats 993,674 (50.77% Turnout)
  • Republicans 546,962 (59.09% Turnout)
  • Unaffiliated 168,634 (35.39% Turnout)
As you can see, even in a bad turnout year for Democrats, Republicans are still far outnumbered -- even if every independent voter who showed up voted with the GOP

PARTISAN POLARIZATION IN MARYLAND: Has the political world changed enough since 2010 to produce a plausible Republican victory? I am skeptical. For that to happen, there would need to a huge number of persuadable/movable voters within the state's Democratic and unaffiliated voter pools. But one insightful analysis of the 2010 O'Malley-Ehrlich election cycle indicates that Maryland has America's most polarized electorate, meaning that there are hard lines between Democratic and Republican voters -- with very few swing voters that will shift allegiances. In 2011, the Legislative District Index blog highlighted Maryland's unique electorate (excerpt below):
LDI BLOG: Maryland is by far the most polarized state we have come across. Sure, there are other states with districts far more Democratic than the rest, but that is a natural feature - metro areas are going to produce these sort of bumps. But generically, the middle 50% of districts are within a fairly narrow electoral band +/- 10% or so. Now, those districts might favor one party of the other, but the central point is that there is a large swath of the electorate that is of a relatively similar composition - the ability to win them over to your side probably translates into electoral success for your party.

In Maryland however, that middle section is totally absent. I believe the kind of data we're seeing here makes a strong case for campaigning to your base rather than the middle in Maryland, as there isn't a homogenous middle-group to court. It immediately brings to mind some of the ridiculous cynical campaign tactics employed by the Ehrlich and Steele campaigns - fake brochures advertising Republicans as Democrats, ground campaigns to designed to cause confusion and uncertainty within the Democratic base, rather than winning over those middle, "independent", Maryland voters. While their tactics were absolutely indefensible, they were operating them along the only path to victory they saw - bolstering turnout among their supporters, and counting on that huge Democratic base to miss out on election day.....
LARRY HOGAN PIVOT? - We're already seeing GOP gubernatorial nominee Larry Hogan half-heartedly trying to remain in contention with the state's moderate voters. For example, The Seventh State blog noted that a secessionist candidate narrowly won a Republican Primary for the Anne Arundel County Council, and Hogan was quick to distance himself from the crazy (excerpt below):
SEVENTH STATE: Anne Arundel County Council Candidate Michael Peroutka was until recently the rare political bird who refused to talk to the media. When he finally did agree to talk to reporters, one cannot help but think that the original refusal was the better bet....

Peroutka has been active in the John Birch Society but it is his current board membership on the League of the South that has attracted scrutiny. Labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the League advocates secession from the U.S. Indeed, the video above shows Peroutka asking people to “stand for the national anthem” of Dixie–not the Star-Spangled Banner....

As a result, Republicans have started running for the hills. Gubernatorial Candidate Larry Hogan wisely didn’t wait to disassociate himself from Peroutka and his campaign says that Hogan “absolutely disavows” him. Peroutka now whines that Hogan didn’t “dialogue” with him.....
But is distancing yourself from a local candidate advocating for secession enough to win over Democratic and independent voters in a liberal state like Maryland? I hardly think so.

OTHER FACETS TO THE 2014 GUBERNATORIAL RACE: In contrast to 2010, Anthony Brown (who has been on the statewide ballot twice) will be more well-known by voters than first-time candidate Larry Hogan. Moreover, the 2014 primary turnout differences between Democrats and Republicans were quite vast, even with contested races for both parties:

2014 ELECTION DAY & EARLY VOTE PRIMARY TURNOUT (BY PARTY)
  • Democrats: 470,528
  • Republicans 217,707
IMPACT OF FUNDRAISING ON THE GOVERNOR'S RACE: One final note to consider is the fundraising differentials between Anthony Brown and Larry Hogan. The Washington Post's John Wagner recently highlighted the impact of Larry Hogan's decision to use public financing for his campaign (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: The Republican nominee for Maryland governor, Larry Hogan, has become the first candidate in 20 years to participate in the state’s public financing system in the fall election, a move likely to leave his campaign with far less money to spend than his Democratic opponent.

Hogan will receive a grant of about $2.6 million from the state, and his campaign will not be allowed to spend more than that on the race, election officials said Wednesday. The decision cements Hogan’s financial disadvantage in the race against Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, who spent about $9 million this year to win the Democratic primary and has started to replenish his war chest....
One wrinkle to these fundraising dynamics is that since Hogan is receiving public financing, he will have access to cash much quicker than Anthony Brown. The Lt. Governor likely had to spend down the millions he raised during the primary for his battle against Doug Gansler and Heather Mizeur. Indeed, as of June 8th (before the primary was completed), the Friends of Anthony Brown campaign account had only $543,510.55 cash on hand.

So as I see it, to keep the Brown campaign on track to defeat Larry Hogan, our Lt. Governor needs to start rebuilding his cash advantage as quick as possible and should start finding ways to excite the Democratic base in our highly polarized state. But hey, what do I know!  Just my two cents.


JUICE #2: BALLOT QUESTIONS THAT WILL BE ON THE NOVEMBER BALLOT // MARYLAND TRANSPORTATION FUNDING CRISIS AND SPECIAL ELECTIONS - MoCo's new political blogger Paul Bessel highlighted two ballot questions that voters will get to weigh in on this November (excerpt below):
PAUL BESSEL: This year (November 4, 2014) there will be two proposed Maryland Constitutional Amendments on the ballot.... That's fewer ballot questions than in many previous years.

The first ballot question asks voters if the Maryland Constitution should be amended to make it more difficult for money in or intended to go into the state's Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) to be used for purposes other than transportation. In the past, this money was sometimes used to balance the overall state budget, not for transportation needs.

If this Constitutional amendment is adopted, in the future any use of this TTF money other than for transportation would first need a formal statement by the Governor that there is a "fiscal emergency" and then 60% of each house of the legislature would have to approve it.

The other proposed Constitutional amendment would allow counties such as MoCo to provide for special elections to fill any vacancies in the office of County Executive, just as now can be done for vacancies on the County Council....
MARYLAND TRANSPORTATION FUNDING CRISIS: Of the two ballot questions, I find the one about the Transportation Trust Fund to be the more intriguing one. By all measures, the United States and Maryland are facing huge transportation funding crises. The Washington Post's Ashley Halsey reported on the political contours of the national infrastructure funding problem (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: Fearful they may lose the Senate in November, Democrats want to force Congress to come up with a long-term method to pay for transportation funding in the lame duck session. Republicans, hopeful they will be in control next year, want to set a May 31 deadline for the task....

The issue is of mind-numbing complexity and might be ignored were it not for the fact that, without a temporary funding extension and then a long-term plan to find new revenue, federal money to build and maintain the nation’s roads, bridges and transit systems will begin to run dry in August.

The Highway Trust Fund that relies primarily on fuel taxes no longer brings in enough cash to pay the bills submitted by the states. The White House has warned that it will run into the red next month, requiring an immediate infusion of money to keep current projects going, and then a creative way to bring in more revenue for the long haul....
Indeed, infrastructure funding has never been a sexy priority for policymakers -- until we start seeing levies break and bridges fall (aka after the damage has already been done). But closer to home, the problem for Maryland is one of economic stagnation, especially while Virginia is now kicking our asses in quickly building 21st century transit projects.

VIRGINIA CRUSHING MARYLAND FOR INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT: I truly believe that Northern Virginia's faster build-out and funding of transit projects is a much greater threat to Maryland than their lower tax rates. Virginia, after all, has always had lower taxes than Maryland, but their race to build infrastructure is a new development. Take a look what's going on in the former heart of the confederacy:

WASHINGTON METRO SILVER LINE TO VIRGINIA OPENS: In case you haven't heard, the new WMATA Silver Line to Virginia has opened. The Washington Times provided a hint about the economic development impact of this transit project for the state (excerpt below).
WASHINGTON TIMES: Gerald Gordon, president and CEO of the Fairfax Economic Authority, said the commitment to the Silver Line was crucial to the area economy. “The initial impact of the Silver Line was having major corporations come to Tysons specifically because of the Silver Line and having companies remain in Tysons because of it,” Mr. Gordon said....

The Fairfax Board of Supervisors is expecting almost 100,000 jobs to be added by 2050 as a result of the line, according to a 2010 report. Mr. Gordon said the line will help establish Tysons as a major city — not just in the region but the world. “You can’t be a world-class city unless you have a rail system,” Mr. Gordon said. “Now we can compete with cities that do have a rail system and become a world-renowned city.”
Here's a video about Virginia's Silver Line:



VIRGINIA "METROWAY" BRT SERVICE OPENS THIS MONTH: Coming right off the heels of the Silver Line opening, The Washington Post's Luz Lazo reports that Northern Virginia will this month also open a new "bus rapid transit" system (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: The Washington region’s first bus rapid transit system is set to open next month. The service, called Metroway, will feature bus-only lanes along a five-mile stretch of roadway in Crystal City and Potomac Yard in Arlington and Alexandria. It introduces a new bus experience to the Washington region: buses will travel much of the route traffic-free, they will be frequent, and riders eventually will be able to pay their fare before boarding. Buses will serve stops equipped with shelters, benches and lighting between the Braddock Road and Crystal City Metro stations....

The service will offer faster rides and shorter waits at the bus stop. Buses will travel most of the route in bus-only lanes. Bus rapid transit is viewed as a way to speed public transit without the huge costs involved in building rail lines.... “We are extremely pleased to launch Metroway in the (Crystal City-Potomac Yard) Corridor, a first for Metro and the region,” Metro General Manager Richard Sarles said in a statement. “This new premium service will provide faster commutes, better connection to existing and developing retail areas, and expand economic growth within the Arlington and Alexandria communities along Route 1.”
Here's a video about the Virginia Metroway BRT system:



NORTHERN VIRGINIA STREETCAR PROJECT GETS FUNDING: Lastly, The Washington Post's Patricia Sullivan reported last month that Virginia policymakers have dumped funding into a streetcar project expected to generate a large revenue boost (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: Virginia will increase state funding for the controversial Columbia Pike streetcar project by up to $65 million, the state transportation chief told officials in Arlington and Fairfax counties this week, allowing the streetcar line to be built at least a year faster and without federal funds.... The long-planned streetcar line, which is expected to run from the Skyline area of Fairfax to the Pentagon City Metro station, has been projected to cost about $358 million. Arlington dropped that estimate to $333 million Friday because of the faster completion time. County officials hope it will be done by 2020....

Not using federal funds means that the county can assume its normal inflation rate of 3 percent for the project, not the federal transit agency-suggested 4 percent. Local elected officials say no homeowner-financed general obligation bonds or residential taxes would go toward building the project, although operating costs are expected to be borne by taxpayers.... The project is closely tied to Arlington’s plans for redeveloping the aging corridor, which county officials say will preserve more than 6,000 affordable apartments for several decades.

A county-funded consultant’s study released in March said the streetcar would generate $3.2 billion to $4.4 billion in new real estate value for Arlington and Fairfax counties over 30 years. It also estimated that the streetcar would produce $455 million to $895 million in new tax revenue for both counties over 30 years, attract 6,600 new jobs within 10 years, and increase state income and sales taxes....
Here's a rendering of the Northern Virginia streetcar project:



WHAT DOES VIRGINIA'S TRANSIT PUSH MEAN FOR MARYLAND? - So while Maryland policymakers have fixated on Virginia's tax rates, our neighbors have been focusing on something else altogether: building modern transit infrastructure that will attract investment, boost tax revenues, and provide better commutes for residents.

Notably, Maryland has multiple transit projects on the books (Baltimore's Red Line, the Montgomery County/Prince George's Purple Line, the Corridor Cities Transitway, the Montgomery County rapid transit system, etc). But it seems quite likely that all of Virginia's transit projects will be funded and built before Maryland even breaks ground on any of its new transit lines. Given these facts, can we really afford to pay for these projects (that are critical to economic development), if we continue on the path of voluntarily cutting our revenues (eg: through more tax cuts)?


JUICE #3: FBI DEBATING MOVING HEADQUARTERS FROM DC TO PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY - One bright spot in our regional competition for jobs, is that the feds are thinking about moving the FBI headquarters (and its 11,000 jobs) to Prince George's County. The Washington Business Journal reported on the development (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL: After more than a year of anticipation, the General Services Administration on Tuesday named three sites — one in Springfield and two in Prince George's County — on its short list of potential locations for a new FBI headquarters.

Greenbelt and the Landover Mall in Prince George's and the GSA warehouse in Springfield in Fairfax County made the list, ruling out a range of wildcards such as the Westphalia Town Center and Exxon Mobil's Merrifield campus. The short list excludes D.C. from the running, but many real estate experts regarded Mayor Vincent Gray's proposal, Poplar Point, as a long shot at best.

The Greenbelt and Springfield sites were long expected to be high on the GSA's short list, while Lerner Enterprises surprised many by offering up the former Landover Mall as a contender in January. Lerner Enterprises is owned by the Lerner family, which also owns the Washington Nationals....

The new headquarters, which will house 11,000 employees, must be at least 2.1 million square feet and will cost an estimated $2 billion to build. Sites were required to be no more than 2 miles from a Metro station and 2.5 miles from the Capital Beltway....

Will Maryland beat out Virginia on at least this project? We shall see!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

TURNOUT ANALYSIS: What's Really Going On? // Maryland Juice Dissects Voter Turnout in the June 2014 Primary Elections

UPDATEWhen I first went live with the post below, I didn't have complete numbers of independent voters in each Maryland county. We've now updated the post with these figures (Hat-tip to Maryland Reporter's Len Lazarick for pointing us in the right direction), along with an explanation of how counties without nonpartisan primaries have inflated turnout percentages. I've also added some information on counties where independent voters are outpacing Republicans. Scroll down for these updates below.

THE FUTURE OF MARYLAND JUICE: Alrighty folks, after months of absence, Maryland Juice is back in action! Before I kick-off a lengthy article about voter turnout in Maryland, I thought I'd take a second to discuss some changes that this blog will be pursuing in the coming months.

In case you haven't heard, I won my Democratic Primary election for the House of Delegates, and that means that by the time the legislative session starts in January 2015, I'll have to step back from my writing duties. But not to worry -- over the course of the next few months, I hope to introduce a new set of writers who will keep the Juice torch and information pipeline burning into the future. In 2015, I  may still write an article here or there, but likely not with the vigor and frequency you've become accustomed to (for various obvious reasons). In any case, keep your eyes open as we roll out new Juicers in 2014! Now onto my first article in over three months....

MARYLAND JUICE 2014 PRIMARY ELECTION TURNOUT ANALYSIS - Numerous political pundits have fretted about Maryland's declining voter turnout, especially in Democratic strongholds like Montgomery County. The Washington Post's Bill Turque commented (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: There’s been much opining among Montgomery’s elected officials about the anemic primary turnout last month, when just 16 percent of registered voters came to the polls. They cited, among other factors, the inconvenience of the new June 24 election date, the lack of urgent issues, and a less-than compelling primary race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination at the top of the ballot....
Turque's article was triggered by a feisty piece from Center Maryland columnist and Montgomery County resident Josh Kurtz (excerpt below):
CENTER MARYLAND: At presidential election time, voter turnout in Montgomery County is pretty decent: Almost three-quarters of enrolled voters showed up at the polls on Election Day 2012 to choose between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney....  But when it comes to acting locally, when it comes to selecting their leaders at the state and county levels, Montgomery County residents fail miserably.

In the recent statewide primary, just 16 percent of registered voters in Montgomery County bothered to vote. Sixteen percent!.... That’s lower voter turnout than in Garrett County (27 percent), where cousins marry, or in Somerset County (24 percent), where the raging issue is chicken waste, or in Baltimore city (22 percent), where they’re selling drugs on every street corner, or in Prince George’s County (18 percent), where every public official has a palm extended.....
But to accurately build a solution to the problem of "low turnout," it helps to understand what's really going on.  Indeed, rushed analyses have led some to hastily conclude that recent voting reforms like early voting were "unsuccessful" and that we are in some sort of existential crisis in Maryland with respect to civic engagement. However, many variables impacting voter turnout (eg: demographic changes, resident turnover, and the national mood) are out of state and local policymakers' control. Below are a few points to consider about turnout trends in Maryland and Montgomery County.

RAW DEMOCRATIC PARTY ELECTION DAY TURNOUT BY COUNTY: First, not all voters are the same. Turnout in Maryland varied wildly depending on your party registration, and all is not what it seems. In terms of raw Democratic Party turnout, simply more Democrats from Montgomery County voted at the polls on election day than Democrats from any other county:

COUNTY PARTY PRIMARY TURNOUT
Montgomery DEM 68,179
Prince George's DEM 64,982
Baltimore County DEM 59,980
Baltimore City DEM 51,730
Anne Arundel DEM 24,655
Howard DEM 19,193
Charles DEM 12,314
Harford DEM 11,795
Frederick DEM 11,201
Carroll DEM 6,306
Calvert DEM 4,451
Washington DEM 4,433
Saint Mary's DEM 4,023
Cecil DEM 3,508
Wicomico DEM 3,349
Allegany DEM 2,748
Queen Anne's DEM 2,303
Worcester DEM 2,173
Dorchester DEM 1,952
Talbot DEM 1,888
Kent DEM 1,299
Caroline DEM 1,018
Somerset DEM 919
Garrett DEM 790

If you include early voters, Montgomery County was second place in Maryland for raw Democratic turnout - Prince George's was first, Baltimore County was third, and Baltimore City was fourth.

% OF ELIGIBLE DEMOCRATIC TURNOUT BY PARTY - One caveat to MoCo's large Democratic turnout should be noted. Even though more MoCo Dems turned out than Dems around the state, Montgomery County's turnout ranking does indeed drop when looking at the percentage of eligible Democrats who participated (as opposed to the absolute number of Democrats who voted).

But even still, in terms of the percentage of Democrats turning out for the primary election, Montgomery County was in a respectable 8th place out of 24 counties (including early voters). Of the large jurisdictions, only Baltimore County Democrats turned out at a rate higher than Montgomery. Prince George's was in 14th place, and Baltimore City was in 17th place:

COUNTY PARTY TURNOUT_TOTAL
Kent DEM 30.22%
Queen Anne's DEM 28.68%
Howard DEM 27.77%
Talbot DEM 26.94%
Baltimore County DEM 26.51%
Charles DEM 26.18%
Frederick DEM 25.05%
Montgomery DEM 23.90%
Harford DEM 23.77%
Carroll DEM 23.55%
Calvert DEM 23.08%
Dorchester DEM 22.90%
Anne Arundel DEM 22.85%
Baltimore City DEM 22.75%
Garrett DEM 20.79%
Allegany DEM 19.90%
Prince George's DEM 19.46%
Cecil DEM 19.02%
Saint Mary's DEM 18.96%
Worcester DEM 18.49%
Caroline DEM 18.44%
Somerset DEM 17.70%
Wicomico DEM 16.82%
Washington DEM 15.80%


MOCO'S POPULATION SURGE DISTORTS ITS TURNOUT PERCENTAGES: In other words, MoCo's sheer size of population means that we have among the most Democrats who vote in Maryland, but we also have a large number of MoCo Democrats who do not vote, thereby bringing down Montgomery County's turnout percentages. Why might this be?

MoCo Democrat Paul Bessel recently launched a new blog where he delved into some of these turnout dynamics. One of the facts he pointed out is that Montgomery County has had a huge surge in Democratic voter registrations over the last 14 years. Based on his graph below, MoCo had about 230,000 Democrats in 2000 compared with about 355,000 in 2014:



NUMBER OF MOCO DEMOCRATS VOTING BASICALLY UNCHANGED IN OVER 2 DECADES - MoCo Democrats have basically voted in equal numbers over the last couple decades, even while our turnout rate has dropped. How can that be? Some historical Democratic turnout numbers provided by Jonathan Shurberg provide some insight.

Here is one telling comparison. In 1990, roughly 86,000 MoCo Democrats voted out of 195,000. In 2014, roughly 84,000 MoCo Democrats voted. So the raw turnout is almost the same, but today there are 354,000 Democrats on the rolls in Montgomery County.

Montgomery County Democratic Turnout (Gubernatorial Primary Years)
  • 1990: 86,167 turnout out of 195,523 registered Dems (44.07%)
  • 1994: 89,452 turnout out of 217,007 registered Dems (41.22%)
  • 1998: 75,485 turnout out of 227,863 registered Dems (33.13%)
  • 2002: 110,518 turnout out of 246,779 registered Dems (44.78%)
  • 2006: 108,337 turnout out of 271,008 registered Dems (39.98%)
  • 2010: 83,827 turnout out of 321,759 registered Dems (26.05%)
  • 2014: 84,622 turnout out of 354,078 registered Dems (23.90%)
It is worth noting that the two election cycles with unusually high turnout for MoCo Democrats both occurred during the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld era (2002-2006). Extrapolate what you will from that data point.

A PROBLEM FOR THE NEW MONTGOMERY COUNTY DEMOCRATIC CENTRAL COMMITTEE - What all of this tells me is that as MoCo's population has surged over the last couple decades, we have likely failed to engage all of the new Democratic registrants that have chosen to reside here.  MoCo's Democratic turnout stayed the same over 24 years even though we added over 150,000 new Democrats to the voter rolls (almost twice as many as vote in Primaries).

Indeed, the vast majority of candidates seeking office in Montgomery County (and everywhere else) spend most of their resources contacting voters with a demonstrated history of voting in Democratic Primaries (aka the decisive elections). As a result, save for the occasional nonprofit voter mobilization drive, there is really nobody trying to pump primary turnout by engaging new registrants and less likely voters in primaries. This seems like a challenge for MoCo's new Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) to tackle. After all, we are living in a new world in Maryland politics, where literally zero Republicans hold elected office in Montgomery County. It seems sensible that the MCDCC should shift its activities to meet the evolving needs of our county's politics.


SO WHY DOES MOCO HAVE THE OVERALL LOWEST VOTER TURNOUT RATE IN MARYLAND? - Okay, so now that we've got the Democratic turnout analysis out of the way, it still remains true that MoCo had terrible turnout when looking at voters from all parties. When you look at turnout figures from voters of all parties and unaffiliated voters, Montgomery County had the lowest turnout percentage in all of Maryland but we still had the second highest number of actual voters in the state this year. See these tables of overall voter turnout from all parties below:

MARYLAND COUNTIES - % OF ELIGIBLE VOTER TURNOUT  (ALL PARTIES)
  1. Talbot - 35.22%
  2. Kent - 30.60%
  3. Dorchester - 29.00% 
  4. Queen Anne's - 28.33%
  5. Garrett - 26.62%
  6. Baltimore County - 24.68% 
  7. Carroll - 24.53%
  8. Somerset - 24.43%
  9. Anne Arundel - 24.25%
  10. Caroline - 24.19%
  11. Cecil - 23.60%
  12. Frederick - 23.34%
  13. Baltimore City - 21.65%
  14. Charles - 21.47%
  15. Harford - 21.26%
  16. Wicomico - 20.24%
  17. Worcester - 20.21%
  18. Allegany - 19.95%
  19. Calvert - 19.24%
  20. Prince George's - 18.00%
  21. Saint Mary's - 16.77%
  22. Washington - 16.54%
  23. Montgomery - 16.34%

MARYLAND COUNTIES - RAW VOTER TURNOUT  (ALL PARTIES)
  1. Baltimore County - 105,171
  2. Montgomery - 103,000
  3. Prince George's - 91,782
  4. Baltimore City - 70,508
  5. Anne Arundel - 65,396
  6. Howard - 38,946
  7. Frederick - 34,872
  8. Harford - 33,773
  9. Carroll - 28,049
  10. Charles - 21,441
  11. Washington - 14,765
  12. Calvert - 11,571
  13. Cecil - 11,258
  14. Saint Mary's - 10,773
  15. Wicomico - 9,495
  16. Queen Anne's - 9,297
  17. Allegany - 8,460
  18. Talbot - 7,714
  19. Worcester - 6,424
  20. Dorchester - 5,138
  21. Garrett - 5,102
  22. Caroline - 3,625
  23. Kent - 3,257
  24. Somerset - 2,803

UPDATED: UNAFFILIATED VOTERS DRIVE DOWN TOTAL TURNOUT PERCENTAGES - Maryland Juice would point readers to some fairly obvious facts that may explain why MoCo had overall turnout of 16%, even while MoCo Democrats turned out at nearly 24%. First, Montgomery County now has 147,000 voters who are not registered with any party. Since Maryland Democrats and Republicans have closed primaries (meaning only registered party members can vote), independent voters have very little reason to turnout for primary elections. Indeed, in MoCo only 2.59% of unaffiliated voters participated in the June 2014 primary election.

Moreover, as Maryland Reporter's Len Lazarick pointed out to me, multiple counties have no races where independents are eligible to vote in primaries. Montgomery County, for example, has nonpartisan school board races, while other counties do not. As a result, counties without nonpartisan races will appear to have higher voter turnout percentages than the rest (where anemic turnout from independents drags down the countywide participation rates). The counties without nonpartisan primaries are: Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, Somerset, and Wicomico.

What's more, MoCo has a much larger number of independent voters than many other Democratic strongholds, according to the Board of Elections stats as of May 2014. Indeed, there are now more MoCo independents (147,904) than Republicans (122,349). Below you can see the numbers of unaffiliated voters in each county:

MARYLAND REGISTERED INDEPENDENTS BY COUNTY
  1. Montgomery - 147,904
  2. Baltimore County - 83,015
  3. Anne Arundel - 74,718
  4. Prince George's - 60,039
  5. Baltimore City - 46,313
  6. Howard - 43,623
  7. Frederick - 33,625
  8. Harford - 30,505
  9. Carroll - 21,560
  10. Washington - 17,854
  11. Charles - 16,399
  12. Cecil - 13,249
  13. Saint Mary's - 12,767
  14. Calvert - 12,012
  15. Wicomico - 10,342
  16. Worcester - 6,545
  17. Allegany - 6,428
  18. Queen Anne's - 5,906
  19. Talbot - 4,451
  20. Caroline - 3,427
  21. Dorchester - 2,715
  22. Garrett - 2,311
  23. Kent - 1,918
  24. Somerset - 1,718
It should be obvious that if Montgomery County has significantly more independent voters than other counties, and these voters cannot vote in most races in primary elections, these voters will not turnout (as demonstrated by their 2.59% turnout rate). This clearly drags down MoCo's statewide ranking for voter turnout.


VOTER TURNOUT AND REGISTRATION DECLINES SPELL TROUBLE FOR THE MARYLAND GOP - But more importantly, these numbers raise the question about who these independent voters are. Are they disaffected Republicans (aka would-be moderate Republicans who have no home in today's Republican Party)? It is stunning that indies outnumber the GOP in Montgomery County, but then again the era of moderate Republican officials like Connie Morella is now long-gone, mirroring a national trend of partisan realignment.

That the Maryland GOP cannot energize its voters in the vote-rich Democratic strongholds is not a theory, it is fact. Look at the percentage of Maryland Republicans who voted in the June Primaries:

MARYLAND REPUBLICAN TURNOUT BY COUNTY

County Party Turnout
Talbot REP 44.06%
Dorchester REP 37.76%
Queen Anne's REP 37.46%
Somerset REP 34.00%
Garrett REP 33.53%
Carroll REP 32.80%
Frederick REP 31.84%
Kent REP 31.09%
Caroline REP 29.43%
Cecil REP 27.93%
Harford REP 26.15%
Anne Arundel REP 25.92%
Allegany REP 25.57%
Wicomico REP 24.50%
Worcester REP 24.46%
Calvert REP 23.51%
Washington REP 23.46%
Saint Mary's REP 21.93%
Baltimore County REP 20.55%
Charles REP 20.43%
Howard REP 19.22%
Montgomery REP 11.74%
Prince George's REP 11.23%
Baltimore City REP 11.00%

UPDATED: THE MARYLAND GOP IS A REGIONAL PARTY - In places like Montgomery, Prince George's and Baltimore City, barely 1 in 10 registered Republicans decided to participate in contested Republican Primary Elections. Furthermore, in all three of those jurisdictions, independents outnumber Republicans:
  • Montgomery - 147,904 independents vs. 122,349 Republican
  • Baltimore City - 46,313 independents vs. 30,325 Republicans
  • Prince George's - 60,039 independents vs. 43,636 Republicans
Interestingly, in democratic-trending Howard County, independents are beginning to approach the same strength as the GOP. This does not bode well for the strength of the Republican electorate in the long-term:
  • Howard - 46,623 independents vs. 56,696 Republicans
Given what a large share of votes these counties represent, it seems clear that the Maryland GOP continues on the path of becoming a regional party. But these anemic GOP turnout levels are making us all look bad, since they bring down the overall turnout percentages for our counties.

The obvious solution for the Maryland GOP is to hold open primaries and allow independents to vote -- especially since indies now outnumber MoCo Republicans. But I'm not holding my breath for that.


PRIMARY TURNOUT IS DECLINING NATIONALLY - In the meantime, I would add just one more piece of data for folks to consider. And that is that the hand-wringing over low voter turnout is nothing unique to Maryland. It is happening nationally.  USA Today recently posted a graph of declining party primary turnout across the nation (courtesy of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate):



So take a deep breath, folks. There is much more going on with voter turnout both nationally, regionally, and locally than has really been discussed in many of the news articles I've read recently. I'll be back with a JuiceBlender before too long.  Thanks for sticking around!