Monday, May 18, 2009

Free State GOP Fades to Black, Part One

Maryland’s Republican Party is in a downward spiral. The problem goes far beyond the ideological disputes between the party’s leaders. It also goes beyond the recent overwhelming victory in the state by President Barack Obama. And the party’s poor position in the state legislature is merely a reflection of the GOP’s difficulties, not the cause. By every measure, the party is in serious trouble and the end is not yet in sight.

First, let’s begin by comparing the last two presidential elections in the state. Here are the numbers by county from 2004:

And here are the numbers by county from 2008:

The obvious fact is that Obama’s total margin (25.4 points) nearly doubled Kerry’s margin (13.0 points). But that understates the extent of Obama’s domination. As depicted by the chart below, Obama surpassed Kerry’s performance in every Maryland county.

Maryland has voted for the Democratic nominee for President in every election since 1992. But the Democratic nominee’s margins have been far less than Obama’s, ranging from 13 points (Kerry) to 17 points (Al Gore). Was Barack Obama’s gigantic margin due to George W. Bush’s epic unpopularity, the state’s large black population, or something else?

Whatever the answer may be, this is just the start of the GOP’s problems. We will begin looking at voter registrations in Part Two.