Monday, November 08, 2010

Party Performance in Central and Southern Maryland

Last week, we analyzed Republican electoral performance in Maryland’s three Democratic strongholds: Baltimore City and Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. The conventional wisdom is that while the Democrats always carry those counties, the GOP carries the rest of the state. But is that really true? We will look at GOP performance in state and county elections in the state’s other twenty-one jurisdictions this week to find out.

A note on methodology. We use two measures for party performance over the last three cycles. One is the average vote percentage earned by Republican candidates running in the county. Unopposed candidates and races without full tickets (for example, a Delegate race in which one party fields less than a full slate) do not count. Statewide candidate performances do count. The other measure is the number of Democratic and Republican wins in a district. If a candidate in a multi-county district wins the county but loses the entire district, that still counts as a win. Unopposed candidates do count on this measure. Based on these two criteria in 2002, 2006 and 2010 general elections, we evaluate whether each county is solid for one party, leans to one party or is evenly split.

Anne Arundel County
9.5% of Registered Voters (5th)

This is the most competitive jurisdiction in the state. Both parties have districts where they are strong. Some districts (like Speaker Mike Busch’s District 30) are places where either party can win. The state delegation currently has three Democratic Senators, two Republican Senators, seven Democratic Delegates and eight Republican Delegates. The County Council has three Democrats and four Republicans. Anne Arundel Republicans are diverse, including relative moderates like Delegates Steve Schuh and Bob Costa and conservatives like Delegates Don Dwyer and Tony McConkey.

Howard County
5.1% of Registered Voters (6th)
Leans Democrat

Howard is politically split between its eastern and southern region (along I-95) and its northern region (along I-70). The former area elects Democrats to the County Council and the delegation whereas the latter area elects Republicans. Because most of the county’s population lives near I-95 and the majority of its districts are in that area, Democrats hold most of the elected offices.

Calvert County
1.6% of Registered Voters (14th)
Leans Republican

This county was evenly split before 2010, when the GOP grabbed the upper hand. Most GOP candidates won majorities here. The only reason some of the Democratic state legislators were reelected is because they share districts with Prince George’s and Saint Mary’s Counties. Democratic Delegate Sue Kullen, the only legislator whose district is entirely inside the county, was defeated by a Republican. The GOP also won all five seats on the County Commission. Look for the Democrats to prevent the creation of any more all-Calvert legislative districts in redistricting.

Charles County
2.6% of Registered Voters (10th)
Solid Democrat

Charles is Maryland’s fastest growing jurisdiction and one of its most Democratic. Eight years ago, the county was split between the parties, but that has changed along with mass emigration from the Washington suburbs. Republicans narrowly won the county’s small piece of Legislative District 29 but still lost overall. The county no longer has any GOP officeholders. Charles’s population growth will give it at least one Delegate seat in redistricting, and it will almost certainly be occupied by a Democrat.

Saint Mary’s County
1.7% of Registered Voters (13th)

Saint Mary’s used to lean Democratic but is now evenly split. It has a Democratic Senator, two Democratic Delegates and one Republican Delegate (House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell). Four of its five County Commission Members are Republicans. Democratic Senator Roy Dyson and Democratic Delegate John Wood, both veterans, won reelection by tiny margins.

We’ll look at Western Maryland tomorrow.