I have ranked Maryland’s counties and Baltimore City from least to most Democratic based on the average of the margin of victory for the respective Republican and Democratic candidates for President in the 2008 and 2012 election cycles.
Queen Anne’s:- R+28
St Mary’s: R+14
Anne Arundel: R+1
Baltimore County: D+16
Montgomery – D+43
Baltimore City: D+76
Prince George’s : D+79
Several things jump out at me about this data. The first is that only six out of 24 jurisdictions lean Democratic. Luckily, those six happen to cast the vast majority of votes in the state. Furthermore, D+16 Baltimore County can no longer considered a swing jurisdiction, as it was for many years. The same is true of Howard and Charles. These three counties are now safely Democratic.
The second thing that jumps out at me is how few counties are relatively evenly split. Only Somerset, Kent, Frederick and Anne Arundel can be considered truly competitive. One could plausibly add Wicomico to that list, as well as perhaps Dorchester and Calvert if one were feeling charitable.
The map also showcases what a remarkable candidate Frank Kratovil was. He won 65% of the vote in Kent County in 2008 (Obama got 49%). That year, he won the most Republican county on the shore (Queen Anne’s) by ten points. He was the State’s Attorney there, so this isn’t entirely surprising. But he also won Caroline County with 52% of the vote. Kratovil eked out a two point win in Cecil, while cruising to a nine point victory in Worcester (and a fifteen point land slide in neighboring Wicomico). In heavily Somerset County, home to a large African-American population, he won by 19 points. Frank did lose Anne Arundel, Harford and Baltimore Counties. But he managed to carry every county on the Eastern Shore. In contrast, in 2010 Governor O’Malley carried not a single Eastern Shore County.
The numbers in Howard County show what a tough road to victory universally respected State Senator Alan Kittleman has. Conversely, the numbers in Anne Arundel give me hope for Democratic former Sheriff George Johnson’s bid for County Executive. The same is true of Jan Gardner in Frederick County. Republicans had once hoped to build majorities on their strength in these growing counties but it is just not happening.
The Maryland Democratic Party should invest substantive resources into the registration and turnout in Somerset County. The African American percentage is similar to Charles, and there’s no reason that Somerset couldn’t be delivering victories of victory for Team Blue. While in a county of a little over 26,000 this isn’t a game changer, it certainly is one of the view places with severe Democratic under performance in Maryland. It could also make a real difference in the Somerset’s government.
The results in Western Maryland are interesting as well. John Delaney lost Garrett and Allegheny counties by wide margins. He held Roscoe Bartlett to a virtual tie in Washington County. He managed to win Frederick; however, the District only contains the solidly Democratic precincts in Frederick City along with some swingier territory bordering Montgomery County.
In Montgomery, Delaney won by an unsurprisingly solid margin. All in all, Delaney’s $4 million plus investment of personal funds bought him substantial inroads in Western Maryland even if does not quite match the organic support Kratovil enjoyed on the Shore. Of course, Kratovil was a true product of the Shore, whereas Delaney was a does not live in his district. Culture matters in elections.
Lastly, these numbers make me doubt any Republican will be able to win office in Montgomery County within my lifetime.