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!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

JUICE: Status Check on Governor, MoCo Exec and Council Races // PLUS: Takoma Park Special Election, Hot Bills & More!

Below Maryland Juice provides a status check on a few campaigns of interest to politicos:

JUICE #1:  THE LATEST ON MARYLAND'S GOVERNOR'S RACE // BILL CLINTON ENDORSEMENT, TV AD WARS & MORE - A few interesting things have happened since we last reported on the status of Maryland's race for Governor. First, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown reported in a press release yesterday that former President Bill Clinton endorsed his campaign (excerpt below):
BILL CLINTON: “Anthony Brown’s lengthy record of public service to our nation and the state of Maryland is a powerful testament to his character and leadership... As Lt. Governor, Anthony has worked to create thousands of jobs, to make quality health care more accessible and affordable, to secure passage of some of the nation’s toughest gun safety laws, to protect women and children from domestic violence, and to make record investments in Maryland’s public schools. He is uniquely qualified to lead Maryland, and I am proud to support him for Governor.”
Meanwhile, Delegate Heather Mizeur continues her effort to wage an issue campaign on progressive causes with recent policy proposals to legalize marijuana, start school later, index the minimum wage, fully fund retiree pensions, reform redistricting, tackle women's pay equity and more. An interesting thing to note about Mizeur's platform is that it seems obvious that having a statewide candidate out front on these types of issues can help lead to a more robust discussion of them in Annapolis and create the political space for positive (albeit compromise) efforts to move forward. That being said, as the race heads into the home stretch, Mizeur has also taken to criticizing the positions of her rivals, including highlighting Doug Gansler's support for an estate tax cut and questioning Anthony Brown's leadership of Maryland's health exchange.

Lastly, Attorney General Doug Gansler and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown are up on the air in different regional markets with television advertising. Check out a couple recent examples below:





JUICE #2: THE LATEST ON MOCO EXEC // IKE LEGGETT HIGHLIGHTS FLIP FLOP, DOUG DUNCAN CALLS OUT TRANSIT CENTER & PHIL ANDREWS QUESTIONS MOCO BUDGET    - In Montgomery County's three-way race for County Executive, several themes are emerging. So far, much of the press coverage has been centered around rival candidates putting incumbent Executive Ike Leggett's eight-year record on trial. Former County Executive Doug Duncan, for example, recently released the following snarky video criticizing Leggett's handling of the Silver Spring Transit Center:



IKE LEGGETT HITS BACK: But Leggett has fired back with multiple data points casting the blame for budget difficulties on Doug Duncan's previous tenure as County Executive. The Washington Post's Bill Turque highlighted an example of the tit-for-tat (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: ... In his budget letter to the County Council on Monday, Leggett never identifies his predecessor and opponent in the June Democratic primary. But he depicts Duncan as a profligate and reckless spender during Duncan’s three terms from 1994 to 2006. It’s certainly no mystery who Leggett is talking about....

“First, the County had to stop spending beyond its means,” he said. “Under the prior administration, tax supported County government spending increased by 36 percent in the three years immediately before I assumed office.” From there, Leggett piles on the data points. County payroll: up 28 percent. Tax-supported county spending: up 128 percent. Total budget growth: up 112 percent. “We have brought down the rate of growth in County government from the unsustainable levels prior to my taking office,” he said....
Leggett also highlighted a potential flip-flop by Doug Duncan on the county's recently approved $11.50/hour minimum wage increase. Duncan previously stated the state rather than the county should set minimum wage rates. Bethesda Magazine's Lou Peck captured Leggett's criticism in an article last month (excerpt below):
BETHESDA MAGAZINE: ... “We’re rewriting history here this morning,” Leggett snapped after Duncan had answered a question on a minimum wage increase, as Leggett suggested that Duncan had changed his position from an earlier appearance.
PHIL ANDREWS CRITICIZES LEGGETT BUDGET: Lastly, the third County Executive candidate, Phil Andrews, has taken to criticizing Leggett's proposed 2015 budget by describing it as a "fiscal straightjacket." Andrews issued a litany of complaints in a press release (excerpt below):
PHIL ANDREWS: The budget proposed by County Executive Leggett would put County taxpayers in a fiscal straightjacket because it exceeds the amount required by the State’s Maintenance of Effort (MOE) law. This law requires funding MCPS at $28 million more than last year. Going above that amount by an additional $26 million, as proposed by Mr. Leggett, would lock County taxpayers into that amount year after year.... This is the second straight year that Mr. Leggett’s budget includes excessive pay raises for County employees of 6.75 to 9.75 percent, at a cost of approximately $33 million in FY15 and an annualized cost of $88.7 million.

In 2010, Mr. Leggett proposed a 100 percent increase in the County’s energy tax, and proposed it sunset after two years. In 2012 and 2013, I led efforts on the County Council that reduced the 2010 increase in the energy tax by 10 percent each year. The Council should continue to reduce the energy tax rate until it reaches its 2010 level. The cost of continuing to reduce it by an additional 10 percent in FY15 is $11.8 million....

JUICE #3: TURNOUT BELLWETHERS FROM APRIL'S TAKOMA PARK & DC ELECTIONS  // CONGRATS TO NEW TAKOMA COUNCILMEMBER KATE STEWART - Yesterday voters in Takoma Park's Ward 3 participated in a special election for a vacant City Council seat. City Councilmember Kay Daniels-Cohen passed away in February, triggering a race to fill her seat for the remainder of her term.

KATE STEWART WINS TAKOMA PARK SPECIAL ELECTION WITH 8 VOTE MARGIN: Congratulations to newly elected City Councilmember Kate Stewart, who won her race by a hair-splitting eight votes. Kate is an executive at the nonprofit organization Advocates for Youth, where she promotes youth education for reproductive and sexual health.

Kate Stewart (left) at election night party with supporter Howard Kohn

EXPLANATION OF THE FASCINATING TAKOMA PARK SPECIAL ELECTION RESULTS - There are many interesting aspects to the Takoma Park special elections to dig into, but first Maryland Juice explains the city's unique election methods. Notably, the city's elections are nonpartisan and both 16-year-olds and noncitizens can vote in the municipal races. Most importantly, the city uses a ranked voting election system known as "instant runoff voting" (aka IRV) for its races. Here's how it works: voters rank candidates in order of preference (eg: 1st choice, 2nd choice, etc). If a candidate wins a majority of first choices, the race is over. But if no candidate gets a majority, the last place candidate is eliminated and their votes are instead counted for the 2nd choices of the eliminated candidate. This is precisely what happened in last night's Takoma Park election count. The IRV system is designed to eliminate the so-called "spoiler" problem where election results can be tipped away from the ideology of the majority through vote-splitting dynamics.

In the Ward 3 Special Election, there were three candidates: Kate Stewart, Roger Schlegel and Jeffrey Noel-Nosbaum. Stewart earned the support of Delegate Heather Mizeur and City Councilmembers Tim Male and Seth Grimes. But Schlegel was a former Mayoral candidate in 2009, when he earned roughly 40% of the vote. In any case, here's how the Takoma Park election counts went:
FIRST ROUND OF TABULATION
  1. Kate Stewart - 323 votes
  2. Roger Schlegel - 315 votes
  3. Jeffrey Noel-Nosbaum - 20 votes
SECOND ROUND OF TABULATION
  1. Kate Stewart - 332 votes
  2. Roger Schlegel - 324 votes
  3. Jeffrey Noel-Nosbaum - ELIMINATED
In the first round of counting, no candidate won a majority of the vote, so the last place candidate's supporters determined the outcome of the race. After Jeffrey Noel-Nosbaum was eliminated, his 20 votes were recounted for his supporters second choice candidates: 9 for Kate Stewart and 9 for Roger Schlegel. After this process was completed, Kate Stewart maintained her 8 vote lead and will be the next Ward 3 Councilmember for Takoma Park.

TURNOUT BELLWETHERS FROM TAKOMA PARK AND DC'S MAYORAL ELECTION? - One interesting thing to note in the Takoma Park results is the turnout figures. Indeed, a few candidates and operatives I've talked to this cycle have been trying to predict what turnout might look like in Maryland's upcoming June Democratic Primary. This is a bit of an x-factor, given that this is the first year Maryland is not holding its primaries in September. Here are a couple data points to consider. In 2011, Ward 3 had 2,241 voters, and turnout for this week's special election was 660 voters (or roughly 30%).

Meanwhile, nearby Washington, DC held Democratic Primary elections last Tuesday, April 1st. Like in Maryland, the early primary was a new feature for DC voters. In a post-election analysis, The Washington Post reported historic low-turnout for the April elections and attributed part of this to the new date (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: A historically small swath of the city decided the race, with Tuesday’s turnout appearing to rival elections in 1986 and 1998 for the lowest in a mayoral primary in 40 years of District home rule. In part, the lower turnout reflected a new, earlier schedule for the city primaries, dictated by a federal law mandating more time between primary and general elections to expand absentee balloting.
Indeed, turnout in DC was about 25%, even with a crowded field of candidates, multiple contested races, high profile political scandals, and heavy spending. Though in maps of voter turnout that I've seen, it is clear that the turnout drop was concentrated in a few Wards in DC. It remains to be seen whether any of these indicators are bellwethers for June turnout in Montgomery County and Maryland.


JUICE #4: STATUS CHECK ON MOCO COUNCIL RACES // ENDORSEMENTS BEGIN TO TRICKLE IN  - There are numerous competitive races for the Montgomery County Council this cycle. Here is a very quick round-up of developments in each of the contests. Note that a number of high-profile endorsements have not yet been announced in some of the county races.
DISTRICT 1: In District 1, incumbent Roger Berliner is facing off against former at-large Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg. Berliner has received the backing of the Sierra Club, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, State Senators Brian Frosh, Rich Madaleno and Brian Feldman, and other community leaders. Meanwhile, Trachtenberg has been endorsed by a range of developers and business leaders, one of whom described the Sierra Club as a "vicious" organization. One report also indicates Trachtenberg is wooing labor unions with promises to restore "effects bargaining" for MoCo police officers.

DISTRICT 3: In the District 3 open seat race, candidates include Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz, Gaithersburg Councilmember Ryan Spiegel, Rockville Councilmember Tom Moore, and activist Guled Kassim. In the D3 race, Ryan Spiegel has earned the support of the teachers (aka MCEA) and public school retirees, while Tom Moore has the backing of the Sierra Club and the volunteer firefighters.

DISTRICT 5: In the District 5 open seat race, candidates include Delegate Tom Hucker, school board member Chris Barclay, and activists Evan Glass, Terrill North and Jeffrey Thames. Tom Hucker has earned endorsements from NARAL, Sierra Club, public school retirees and labor unions representing firefighters, police, county employees, electricians and more. Meanwhile, Chris Barclay has been endorsed by the teachers, alongside current and former Councilmembers: Valerie Ervin, Craig Rice, Cherri Branson and Nancy Navarro. Evan Glass has the support of Takoma Park Mayor Bruce Williams and City Councilmember Seth Grimes.Terrill North has endorsements from Takoma Park Councilmembers Jarrett Smith and Fred Schultz, along with former Takoma Park Councilmembers Kay Daniels Cohen, Hank Prensky and Donna Victoria.

AT-LARGE: Lastly, Montgomery County elects four at-large County Councilmembers, and all four incumbents are seeking re-election: Marc Elrich, Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal and Hans Riemer. Two challengers have entered the race: Beth Daly & Vivian Malloy. In previous election cycles, one at-large Councilmember typically loses, but it seems too early to size up the state of this race. So far newcomer Beth Daly has earned endorsements from the Sierra Club, public school retirees, Delegate Charles Barkley and Gaithersburg Councilmember Mike Sesma. Marc Elrich also has the support of the Sierra Club, while George Leventhal's supporters include Takoma Park Mayor Bruce Williams and City Councilmember Seth Grimes.

JUICE #5: MOCO SCHOOL BOARD RACES GETTING INTERESTING AS CANDIDATES ANNOUNCE ENDORSEMENTS - There is an unusual amount of activity in Montgomery County's non-partisan Board of Education races this year. All seats are contested, and the top two vote-getters in each race will advance to the General Election ballot to determine a winner in November. Note that in some of the races, there are only two candidates, meaning both will automatically advance to the General Election ballot. Here's a quick run-down of the races:
AT LARGE (OPEN SEAT): The open seat race for at-large school board has drawn four contenders: Edward Amatetti, Shebra Evans, Merry Eisner-Heidorn and Jill Ortman-Fouse. Shebra Evans is the choice of the teachers union, Merry Eisner-Heidorn has the support of the public school retirees, and Jill Ortman-Fouse has the support of Attorney General Doug Gansler, Sen. Jamie Raskin, and County Councilmember George Leventhal.

DISTRICT 1: Incumbent school board member Judy Docca is facing off against Kristin Trible. Docca has the support of the teachers.

DISTRICT 3: Incumbent school board member Pat O'Neill is facing off against Laurie Halverson. O'Neill has the support of the teachers, public school retirees, and Coalition of Asian-Pacific American Democrats of Maryland.

DISTRICT 5: Incumbent school board member Mike Durso is facing off against Larry Edmonds. Durso has the support of the teachers. 

JUICE #6: BILLS THAT PASSED & FAILED THIS SESSION // ROLL CALL LINKS FOR MINIMUM WAGE, TRANSGENDER RIGHTS, MARIJUANA DECRIMINALIZATION & MORE - Maryland's legislative session adjourned last Monday. Below we provide an update on the status of a few interesting and high-profile bills debated in Annapolis this session:

BILLS THAT PASSED
  • $10.10 Minimum Wage:  Roll Calls  [ Senate 34-13 ] & [ House 87-47 ]
  • Marijuana Decriminalization:  Roll Calls  [ Senate 36-8 ] & [ House 78-55 ]
  • Transgender Nondiscrimination:  Roll Calls  [ Senate 32-15 ] & [ House 82-57 ]
  • Tax Cut for Wealthy Estates: Roll Calls [ Senate 36-10 ] & [ House 119-14 ]
  • Ban on Shackling Pregnant Inmates: Roll Calls  [ Senate 47-0 ] & [ House 135-0 ]
  • License Plate Scanner Rules: Roll Calls [ Senate 46-0 ] & [ House 136-0 ]
  • Requiring Court Order for Electronic Surveillance: Roll Calls [ Senate 46-0 ] & [ House 134-0 ]
BILLS THAT FAILED
  • Shielding of Nonviolent Convictions:  Roll Call [ Senate 44-3 ] & [ No House Floor Vote ]
  • Ban on Academic Boycotts:  [ No Floor Votes ]

A final interesting bill worth mentioning is the proposed subsidy for the Netflix TV series "House of Cards." Though lawmakers approved $15 million in tax credits, the House and Senate were unable to agree on the full $18.5 million requested by the producers. The Washington Post provided a blow-by-blow on how the bill failed during the closing minutes of the Annapolis legislative session.