Saturday, November 10, 2012

GUEST POST: Del. Eric Luedtke Dissects Montgomery County's Marriage Equality, Dream Act & Gambling Results // SEE MAPS


Below Maryland Juice is pleased to publish an interesting analysis of key ballot question results in Montgomery County. Our guest pundit, Delegate Eric Luedtke (D14 Democrat), looked at the precinct-level returns for marriage equality (Question 6), the Dream Act (question 4) and gambling expansion (Question 7). He also created some insightful maps showing how MoCo's neighborhoods voted on the various measures.
ERIC LUEDTKE: Below, I've attached precinct maps showing how Montgomery County voted on questions 4, 6, and 7. First, I should note that these maps only display the election day precinct level vote, and do not include early voting totals.

The Montgomery County Board of Elections data counts the early vote as a separate canvass, like they do with absentee votes. During early voting, MoCo supported marriage equality nearly six points more than the statewide overall vote for Question 6. On the Dream Act, Montgomery County voters supported the measures by four points more than the statewide vote. Lastly, on gambling expansion, Montgomery County supported Question 7 by four tenths of a point less than the statewide average.

Note that there were some geographical variations in the early vote due to the locations of the early vote centers. For example, the early vote probably included significantly more voters from Silver Spring precincts (folks who likely voted at the Silver Spring Civic Center) than voters from the Bethesda area, where there is no early voting center. But nonetheless, the maps below give a glimpse into the geographic and demographic patterns of the vote on the various questions.

NOTE: On all of the maps below, the bluest areas show precincts that "voted for" the ballot question in large numbers. The purple areas show precincts where fewer than 50% of voters supported a "vote for" the ballot question. See the explanation of the color-coding using the key to the right.


ERIC LUEDTKE: The question 4 map is probably the most clear. Only six far upcounty precincts voted against it, including much of Damascus (except the central precinct which is entirely suburban rather than a rural-suburban mix like the rest of Damascus), parts of Laytonsville, and northern Gaithersburg outside the city limits. The heaviest vote in favor is concentrated downcounty, particularly in Bethesda and Silver Spring, and also has concentrations in parts of the county further north that have heavier immigrants populations. This includes most of the 29 corridor, which has significant populations of Latinos and continental African immigrants, the Wheaton area and its heavy Latino population, and precincts around Gaithersburg and Rockville with large Latino and Asian-American populations. It’s interesting to note the stretch of precincts voting strongly in favor up the 270 corridor all the way to the Frederick County line, likely due to a continued expansion of more urban and suburban areas in Germantown and Clarksburg. It’s also significant that nearly all of District 15 voted in favor, including the heavily rural precincts around Poolesville and Barnesville. District 15, you may remember, was the last MoCo district to elect a Republican, but its shift towards the Democratic column seems to be continuing.


ERIC LUEDTKE: The question 6 map is similar to the question 4 map. Support is concentrated in Bethesda/Chevy Chase, lower Silver Spring, and Rockville, with concentrations of lesser support in Olney, Gaithersburg, Germantown, and Potomac. Many of the majority-minority portions of the county voted in favor, including the upper 29 corridor and Wheaton/Aspen Hill, although by a significantly smaller margin than they supported question 4. I think this reflects the fact that marriage equality supporters were successful in reaching out to many minority voters, but obviously still have work to do. Four of the ten precincts that opposed are in District 14, which had the lowest vote by district in the county, but still the vote was in favor in all eight legislative districts. 


ERIC LUEDTKE: The question 7 map is a bit of a cipher, in that for virtually every identifiable pattern there is an exception. Significant pockets of opposition cluster along the DC line in areas from Bethesda and Chevy Chase south and in Takoma Park and east Silver Spring, but a big chunk of the western side of Silver Spring voted in favor by a wide margin. More conservative upcounty precincts in Brookeville, Laytonsville, and Barnesville voted against, while most of Damascus voted in favor. Seniors at Asbury and Riderwood voted heavily against it, while seniors in Leisure World voted in favor. The vast majority of the county voted in favor of it by relatively slim margins, and we don’t see many geographic concentrations of support like we did on the other maps, although there is a significant concentration of support in Gaithersburg and Germantown, one in the Aspen Hill area, and a smaller one in Fairland and Briggs-Chaney.

DAMASCUS VOTERS: AGAINST MARRIAGE EQUALITY & DREAM ACT, FOR BOOZE AND GAMBLING - Maryland Juice has one interesting takeaway from Luedtke's analysis. It appears that Damascus voters may be the black sheep of Montgomery County. Notably, Damascus voters appear to have unusual moral priorities as demonstrated by their voting behavior. On November 6, Damascus overwhelmingly voted to begin allowing alcohol sales in their town (Note: it is currently a "dry" town). But while many Damascus voters also voted against marriage equality and the Dream Act, they also approved gambling expansion. Bottom line: Damascus rejected civil rights and college opportunity, but embraced booze and gambling. I'm no puritan about booze and gambling, but what kind of a message does this send? Oy vey!

SIDENOTE: SOME REPUBLICANS BUCKED PARTY TO SUPPORT MARRIAGE EQUALITY - Maryland Juice has one final note for this analysis of the ballot question results. Walter Olson of the CATO Institute today published an interesting op-ed in The Huffington Post noting that in some Republican-dominated parts of Maryland, the "vote for" marriage equality was higher than Obama's vote total in the same places. He surmises that this means Republican defections on marriage equality helped Question 6 pass in Maryland (excerpt below):
WALTER OLSON: In fact county-level results reveal that across wide swaths of Republican territory in Maryland, same-sex marriage actually ran well ahead of Barack Obama and the Democratic ticket. That means there were many, many Romney voters who voted for the same-sex marriage law -- enough, in fact, that without them the measure would almost certainly have lost by a mile....

Two major bulwarks of Republican strength in Maryland, Anne Arundel and Frederick Counties, went both for Romney and for same-sex marriage. The two counties have been home to some of the state's best- known anti-gay politicians, such as Del. Don Dwyer of Anne Arundel and former Sen. Alex Mooney of Frederick. Frederick County especially, where I live, is famed as a right-wing stronghold.... Romney carried Anne Arundel by a point.

In Carroll, Question 6 ran a remarkable 11 points ahead of the president, in Queen Anne's 10 points ahead, in Harford and Cecil 5 points, and in Frederick and Anne Arundel 3 to 4 points. Collectively these counties contributed tens of thousands more votes for Question 6 than if gay marriage had been, as you might put it, only as popular as the chief executive of the United States.....

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