East (21%): 65% Clinton, 32% Sanders
Baltimore Area (28%): 66% Clinton, 31% Sanders
DC Suburbs (35%): 66% Clinton, 33% Sanders
Central/West (15%): 53% Clinton, 45% Sanders
If these margins hold, Clinton should win most congressional district outside of the Sixth (i.e. Western Maryland) by roughly 2-1 and pick up a good number of delegates. Where the races are at all close, which can even include places where one candidate has a 10 point lead, candidates often come out with the same, or nearly the same, number of delegates.
Jonathan Shurberg kindly passed along a tip that absentee ballots are waaay up in CD8. He’s right, and that could have an impact on our congressional primary.
The state’s Board of Elections has released absentee ballot statistics by congressional district and party. CD8 has about one-eighth of the state’s population. But among Democrats, it has accounted for 27% of absentee ballots sent to voters and 25% of absentee ballots received by the state.
The Board of Elections also reports absentee ballots by state legislative district. Among Democrats, the five legislative districts from which the state received the most absentee ballots are all partially or entirely inside CD8. Legislative District 16, home to high turnout precincts in Bethesda and Chevy Chase, is the runaway leader. Legislative District 20, home base to Senator Jamie Raskin, ranked fifth.
Below are absentee ballots cast by Democrats in CD8 primaries from 2000 through 2016. The lead year for absentee voting was 2008, a record-breaking primary across the state which saw a contested election for President. This year’s primary is set to be at least number two on this measure. A caveat applies: CD8’s boundaries were significantly changed in 2012, as it lost many high turnout precincts in Potomac and gained many less-Democratic precincts in Frederick and Carroll Counties. Accounting for that fact, the absentee returns in 2008 and 2016 are in the same ballpark. Another thing: mailed absentee ballots with postmarks on or before election day will be accepted by the state through May 6, so more ballots will be received.
The competitive presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is definitely responsible for part of this spike. Competitive presidential elections draw out voters like no other down-ballot offices do.
But we also hear that David Trone’s campaign has been running an aggressive absentee ballot program. This is part of Trone’s strategy to expand the electorate beyond regular Democratic voters. By mailing to registered Democrats who do not get mail from other candidates, saturating televisions, laptops, tablets and smartphones with ads and even advertising on Baltimore TV stations, Trone is betting that he can turn out voters who hear primarily or only from him. That’s his strategy for victory, and the absentee ballot performance may be a sign of it.
If Trone is deadlocked for the lead with another candidate at the end of tonight, don’t be surprised if the absentee ballots give him a win.
The Democratic primary in the Eighth Congressional District is fierce. And no wonder. Whoever wins is virtually assured of becoming a new Member of Congress in this safely Democratic territory.
Adam Pagnucco has done a good job outlining the strength and weakness of the three leading candidates (Matthews, Raskin and Trone), so I thought I’d look at how the other candidates may impact the race even if they don’t win.
Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez has run a somewhat quixotic campaign that has mainly been about advancing her progressive point of view in debates. Her campaign lacks to money to be competitive even though she has loaned it money from personal funds.
Despite the lack of funds, I heard from one voter that saw a television ad. Unfortunately for Gutierrez, advertisements have to play a lot in order to have an impact and her budget is simply not large enough to buy that hefty an ad buy.
She has sent out one bilingual piece of mail in the form of a newspaper. Voters may pick it up and take a peek because it’s original. But it has a lot of small print and many photos of the candidate in the style of the North Korean Central News Agency‘s coverage of Kim Jong Un.
Despite these limits, Gutierrez may have an impact. She had volunteers at the Lawton Center early voting center in Chevy Chase. Moreover, she has been in public office for 25 years as a candidate for the School Board and then the House of Delegates.
Gutierrez’s final political move has been to endorse Bernie Sanders. This seems more likely to do her more good than Bernie, as she links her campaign to a popular progressive and appeared on stage to endorse him at a rally in Baltimore.
As the first Latina elected in Montgomery County and a known name, I expect Gutierrez to pick up a good chunk of the Latino vote. Indeed, it seems likely to propel her into fourth place even if she loses much of her past non-Latino support to Jamie Raskin.
Raskin seems most likely to be hurt by Gutierrez’s presence in the race. He represents a large Latino community in District 20 and has advocated strongly on a variety of issues from immigration to social justice that Gutierrez also emphasizes. It would certainly be ironic if Gutierrez, who ran to advance progressive issues, ended up costing the leading progressive candidate the nomination.
Del. Kumar Barve is a former majority leader of the House of Delegates who represents Rockville and Gaithersberg. Smart and quick, he’s one of the funniest members of the House of Delegates. Like the other state legislators in the race, he has ended up heavily on the liberal side of most issues.
Barve has more money than any candidate outside of the top three but remains out of their financial league. He has attempted to gain notice through strong criticisms of Raskin’s ads but my assessment is that these efforts have gained very limited traction.
At the risk of making Barve sound far older than he is, Barve was the first Asian American elected in Montgomery County and, indeed, is often highlighted in descriptions of pioneering elected officials. This would seemingly be an advantage in a county with a large and growing Asian American population.
Unfortunately for Barve, most Asian Americans identify less as Asians and more by their national origin. As Barve likes to note somewhat ruefully, he has the Hindu vote nailed down with the implication being that just won’t get him far.
Barve is one of those candidates who I could well have imagined breaking through but it hasn’t happened for him for a variety of reasons, including Trone’s money attracting so much attention. It would be nice for Barve if he finished well in the portions of the district he represents in the House of Delegates.
Will Jawando ran a good but losing campaign for the House of Delegates in District 20, home to Jamie Raskin. Two years later, he has jumped into the congressional race. Jawando is young attorney with a family who is also running on progressive platform and is easy to imagine winning public office in Montgomery County.
Jawando’s decision to enter this race surprised many. The safer bet would have been to help Raskin win election and then angle to win appointment to the state legislative vacancy. Jawando would have been a very strong candidate due to his own abilities, respectable finish last time, and links to the congressional winner.
While Rep. Elijah Cummings has stayed out of the U.S. Senate race, he has endorsed Jawando for the Eighth District. As the only African American in the race with support from a prominent African-American Democrat, albeit not from around the area, Jawando has the potential to attract some votes.
As with Gutierrez, this could hurt Raskin. However, Jawando is less well-known that the long-established Del. Gutierrez, so it’s unclear how big a splash he will manage to make in the race.
Joel Rubin is a friend and neighbor. He’s a nice, personable guy who, like many in Montgomery County, has been active in federal politics but at the local or state level until now. Rubin has raised a nice sum of money and run a good campaign even though he just lacks the funds or previous support base to be competitive.
Even though this is his first race, he’s shown some good clever, campaign abilities, including producing these excellent YouTube videos on Trone and and his own family story:
Like Will Jawando, I would not be surprised to hear more from Joel Rubin in the future.
Finally, I know little about Dan Bolling and David Anderson. Bolling is running as the anti-partisan candidate and Anderson appears to be a well-meaning progressive. I do not expect either to have a major impact on the outcome of the race. Click on the links to learn more about them.
We are now at the end of a record-breaking, historic and extremely expensive Democratic primary for Congress in District 8. The leading category of spending in the race is television advertising. Broadcast TV contracts for political ads are available on the Federal Communications Commission’s website, but they are not readily searchable or crunchable. We tracked and broke down candidate spending on 127 contracts through noon, April 4 three weeks ago. The updated data below pertains to 218 contracts uploaded as of Saturday afternoon, April 23, and should cover almost all broadcast TV spending in the primary.
First, let’s look at the number of spots and gross spending for each broadcaster. This data does not include production costs for the ads, only payments to broadcasters to run them.
WRC-TV, the Washington NBC affiliate, has been the leading network here for years and accounts for roughly a third of spots and more than 40% of gross spending. Its news programs, including the Today Show, the local news shows and NBC Nightly News, are among the most desirable – and most expensive – programs for political advertisers. Three Baltimore broadcasters appear in our dataset because Total Wine co-owner David Trone is advertising on them to reach Carroll County voters.
Television spending has increased steadily since January 26, when Trone kicked off the CD8 2016 ad season. Former WJLA anchor Kathleen Matthews began advertising on February 8. Senator Jamie Raskin joined in on March 24 and Delegate Kumar Barve followed on April 6. April has been a lucrative month for Washington broadcasters, especially WRC.
David Trone is the king of TV spending, accounting for the majority of spots and 75% of gross payments. Trone heavily targets national and local news programs for his ads, considered by many to be solid places to reach voters. Barve prefers these programs too. Matthews keeps her costs down by mixing in cheaper daytime television like The Meredith Viera Show, Days of Our Lives, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, CBS Soaps and The Insider. Raskin runs 15-second spots, half the length of his competitors, and that’s why he has the lowest cost per spot.
Trone has been on TV the longest and has spent the most money by far, but the entrance of other candidates has cut into his dominance a bit. Still, even in April when all spigots were opened, Trone had a 68% market share. Trone spent almost as much on April broadcast TV as Matthews has spent on all items in her entire campaign, and more than Raskin has spent in total.
Despite his unprecedented TV spending, Trone’s campaign is not the most TV-intensive as a proportion of total funds. That distinction belongs to Matthews. Her broadcast TV spending accounts for 48% of the money she raised through April 6. Trone’s TV spending accounts for 43% of his resources (including two late contributions through April 15). Barve and Raskin trail on this measure. Matthews is able to put more of her money into TV, an area in which she excels, because Emily’s List has basically taken over her mail program. This is a significant advantage for Matthews. Aside from the authority line, voters likely cannot distinguish between Emily’s List mailers and anything they have seen from the Matthews campaign.
If spending alone determines the outcome of the race, Trone is going to win. However, about sixty percent of the electorate is female and that will help Matthews. And Raskin’s grass-roots support has been second to none. We are headed towards an exciting finish!
Maryland was made for Hillary Clinton. She has done very well among African-American voters, who form 30% of the State’s population and will comprise a higher share of Democratic primary voters. The exit polls from 2008 indicated that women composed a staggering 62% of the primary vote, another good demographic for Clinton this year.
Finally, Bernie Sanders is running as an anti-establishment candidate in a State where many primary voters literally live inside the Beltway. While the Obama campaign swept many of these same areas in 2008, there is no remotely parallel wave for Bernie Sanders.
On the Republican side, I suspect Trump will have a good night. Class dynamics are unusually inverted in Maryland with many upper class Democrats and working class Republicans, who have provided the backbone for Trump’s support elsewhere. Will Gov. Larry Hogan end up having to explain whether he’ll support Trump to the same Republican coalition that elected him?
The U.S. Senate
In Maryland, the presidential primary has ceded marquee status to the hard fought battle between Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen. It has become a battle between the uncompromising progressive and the person who gets progressive results.
EMILY’s List upped the octane in this race by dumping millions on the side of Edwards, providing the bulk of her campaign funding. No doubt this has been a unpleasant surprise for Van Hollen, who likely expected to dominate due to his fundraising prowess and has enjoyed strong support from women’s groups in the past.
Lately, however, these advertisements have become a mixed blessing, as bizarre attempts to characterize Van Hollen as opposed to gun control or campaign finance provoked a backlash from the White House and critics. See Jonathan Shurberg’s excellent summary.
Edwards has been hoping that her compelling personal story, ability to bring some diversity to the Senate, and strong progressive credentials will help her unite progressive white and African-American voters into a winning coalition.
However, after months of a tight race, polls indicate that Van Hollen is pulling ahead but the voters will have the ultimate say tonight. If he does become the Democratic senatorial nominee, commenters will likely point to several factors.
First, I don’t think Edwards has convinced voters that she is more progressive than Van Hollen in any meaningful way. Van Hollen has also managed to sell the argument that he is not just progressive but accomplishes progressive goals more compellingly than Hillary Clinton in the presidential race.
Next, Edwards has not obtained support from key African-American officials, like County Executives Rushern Baker and Isiah Leggett. The silences from Rep. Elijah Cummings’ office and the Congressional Black Caucus are also deafening. Edwards has nonetheless done an impressive job uniting black support across the State, particularly in light of these gaps in her support base.
As she goes into the final stretch, Edwards has hammered home her personal story and that she would be only the second black woman in the Senate. No one could seriously argue against the desirability for more diversity in the Senate.
But the dominance of this argument risks reducing her campaign to only identity politics. It needs leavening with other elements to sustain substantial cross-racial appeal even though the Black Lives Matter movement gives it a natural energy that could still make this a close race tonight.
I know too little about the Republican race to comment.
Congressional District 8 has three strong Democratic candidates with a chance to win. One of them is Total Wine co-founder David Trone.
Let’s start with the obvious: Trone has accounted for two-thirds of all funding in the race and three-quarters of broadcast TV spending. He leads the field in mail and digital ads too. As David Lublin has written, his campaign has been well run and professional. Trone’s rags-to-riches life story is compelling and will appeal to many. He is running as the outsider candidate in a year in which outsiders have seen success at the presidential level in both parties. He is running against PACs and lobbyists more than he is against his opponents. (Only PACs and lobbyists could rival the current Congress in unpopularity!) And Trone has been an active campaigner at the retail level, appearing at Metro stations and many events.
Trone had a bad start, openly saying “I sign my checks to buy access” when questioned about why he contributed to Republicans and having to apologize when his campaign sent a spy to the Matthews and Raskin offices. He is pilloried by Raskin loyalists and some of his opponents for his self-funding. He is not a natural politician and has had to learn the ropes quickly. He was unknown in the district in the beginning (boy, has that changed!) and has no local political history. And he is not as good a fit for the district’s electorate as a liberal state senator or a telegenic, professional woman. But Trone’s financing as well as the competent campaign operation he has built virtually overnight make him a big factor in this race.
What Our Sources Say
Source: “Trone is not a naturally attractive candidate, but he seems to be the rare self-funding first-timer who has allocated his resources wisely and widely across the spectrum of voter contact methods and has mostly avoided unforced errors, some early missteps notwithstanding. He has hired competent professionals to produce television ads and direct mail pieces of workmanlike quality while also using paid canvassers, online ads, etc. If he loses it will not be because he failed to touch all of the bases or because he failed to heed the advice of people who know how to run political campaigns.”
Source: “If there’s anything Montgomery County politics could use, it’s someone to shake things up. Our politics are boring and our politicians are all the same. I love the fact that Trone’s not part of the small insiders club, and rather than being shy about it, he’s proud of it. With the Republican Party shifting hard to the far right nationally, the Democratic Party should be seizing the hole left for the business community – and with his business background and progressive politics, David Trone is the kind of guy who can help make that happen.”
Source: “Running a terrific outsider gubernatorial campaign, but he’s running it for a House seat. Good ads, good mail, and showing up everywhere he needs to, just not getting traction because the legislative job doesn’t match his executive credentials.”
Source: “David’s candidacy will test the political theory about whether the Delaney model for victory was a fluke or is a viable way to reach Congress in Maryland. In terms of policy, demeanor, desire and political acumen, he is the best choice. He has the potential to actually change Congress for the better. So, did his late entry hurt him? Do enough people know him? Is money the ultimate decider in our local Congressional races? He’s never held political office, does that matter? If he is elected, does that mean that most MoCo voters are actually more moderate and business friendly than we think they are? David’s candidacy is the most intriguing because it tests all of these questions. If he wins, the party establishment loses two congressional seats in a row – CD6 and CD8.”
How He Could Win
Because of his resource advantage, Trone doesn’t have to run a targeted race – he can communicate with everybody. His television and digital ads go out to regular voters, casual voters, non-voters, members of other parties and non-residents alike. His mail program can reach out to all registered Democrats. Raskin’s base will never abandon him and many women will go for Matthews, but there are thousands of Democrats in the district who know only one candidate: David Trone. If turnout is high and is not based just in the Downcounty areas that are the home of the district’s liberal, high-information voters, there will be lots of people who will vote for President, know nothing of Congress, and vote for U.S. House candidates based on little more than name recognition. This is the antithesis of the scenario most favorable to Jamie Raskin – a large, casual, mixed-ideology electorate who come from Carroll, Frederick and Upcounty nearly as much as they do from the Beltway region. If that happens and turnout approaches 2008 levels, David Trone could be going to Congress.