Maryland has expanded greatly the number of early voting sites around the State this year. Both parties believe that early voting benefits Democrats.
So far, the first two days of early voting are proving them wrong.
In 2010, 13.1% of Democrats voted early compared to just 10.1% of Republicans, and 9.1% of unaffiliated voters. But in the first two days of early voting in 2014 , Republicans have voted at slightly higher rates than Democrats. Among all eligible voters, 1.22% of Republicans have voted compared to 1.16% of Democrats, and just 0.5% of unaffiliated voters.
These statistics may well change over the weekend but they have to hearten Republicans. An examination of where voters have cast early votes at higher and lower rates provides further cheerful news for the GOP:
I have highlighted in blue the big three Democratic counties in which Democrats need strong victories to help compensate for losses in other parts of the State.
Montgomery is the State’s largest county with roughly 1 million residents and increasingly the motor of Democratic victories. Montgomery ranked 19th among the State’s 23 jurisdictions in early voting turnout in 2010.
Right now, it is set to drop two places more to 21st place. The low turnout in Montgomery is fascinating because the County scores very well on the factor that predicts high turnout at the individual level: education.
Turnout in Prince George’s, Anthony Brown’s home county, appears more encouraging. At 2.06%, it is only slightly below the statewide rate of 2.21%. But in 2010, Prince George’s had the third highest level of early voting in the State.
Baltimore City’s comparatively low turnout rate is only two places above that of Montgomery at 19th in the State. In 2010, Baltimore City ranked 11th. Perhaps efforts to remind voters to go to the polls at African-American churches this weekend will change this dynamic.
The top eight counties in terms of turnout will all probably go Republican when the votes are tallied–some very strongly. I suppose Democrats can try and take solace in that the three Western Maryland Republican counties–Garrett, Allegany and Washington–are all voting at low rates. However, they are small and counterbalanced by the low turnout in heavily Democratic Charles.
I’ll try to keep you posted on early voting turnout as it continues.