MoCo’s Two Electorates, Part Three

By Adam Pagnucco.

Part Two presented a host of demographic data comparing Democrats who voted in all three of the 2006, 2010 and 2014 primaries (“Super Dems”) to voters from all parties who voted in both of the 2008 and 2012 general elections (“Super Generals.”)  Let’s compare the two groups more concisely below.

In summary, when compared to Super Dems, Super Generals are more likely to:

  1. Be age 29 or younger.
  2. Be ages 30-39.
  3. Live in Clarksburg.
  4. Live in Damascus.
  5. Live in Germantown.
  6. Live in Council District 2.
  7. Live in Legislative District 39.
  8. Live in precincts that are 25% or more Asian.
  9. Live in Legislative District 15.
  10. Live in Montgomery Village.

When compared to Super Dems, Super Generals are less likely to:

  1. Be ages 70-79.
  2. Be age 80 or older.
  3. Live in Takoma Park.
  4. Live in Chevy Chase.
  5. Be ages 60-69.
  6. Live in Legislative District 20.
  7. Live in Bethesda.
  8. Live in Kensington.
  9. Live in Legislative District 18.
  10. Live in Council District 5.

The above items are ranked in order of likelihood.  So for example, the biggest difference between the two electorates is in age, but that is far from the only difference.

Super Dems are mostly from Downcounty, tend to be seniors or close to it, have a lot of voting history and may be majority liberal.  They elect MoCo’s county officials and state lawmakers, who tend to be responsive to them.  Super Generals are geographically diverse, younger in age, have less voting history and are much more diverse ideologically.  Liberals probably do not account for a majority of Super Generals.  It is the Super Generals, not the Super Dems, who decide charter amendments and ballot questions, including this year’s amendment on term limits.

Two more facts are relevant to Super Generals.

First, on the last three major county ballot questions, the general electorate voted in favor of stricter limits on property tax hikes, against the ambulance fee and against broad collective bargaining rights for the police union.  These were arguably the less progressive positions on all three questions.  If these questions were submitted only to Democratic primary voters, they may all have had different outcomes.

Second, a Washington Post poll in September found that MoCo voters from all parties together gave Governor Larry Hogan a 66% job approval rating.  This was not significantly different from the Governor’s statewide approval rating of 71%.  It’s hard to imagine a majority progressive electorate approving of an anti-tax GOP Governor to that extent, but this is further evidence that liberals may not in fact be a majority of MoCo voters.

Term limits is the issue of the day and will be decided soon enough.  But a broader question looms.  Given the differences between MoCo’s Two Electorates, what happens when elected officials cater to one of them at the heavy expense of the other?  The recent large property tax hike, which was spread all across county government, was aimed at the priorities of liberal Democratic voters.  It also became the core of the push for term limits which is aimed at the general electorate.  This suggests a need for balance and restraint by those running the government.  Because if one of the two electorates feels unheeded, either one has the tools to strike back – either by unseating incumbents or by shackling them with more ballot questions and charter amendments.