Now that Maryland’s 2016 Primary Election is in the firm and unforgiving grasp of the past, shrewd Howard County political observers are now focused on the Long Slog to the General Election…not only for the importance it has in and of itself, but also as a harbinger for 2018 (and beyond).
At the precinct level, there were some quirky voting patterns evident in the 2014 returns. Were they the by-product of a weak Democratic gubernatorial candidate? Second presidential term, mid-term fatigue with the party that holds the White House? A local Republican Party that is showing signs of life in not just the West but in the swing First County Council district and generally reliably Democratic Columbia? Was 2014 a once in a decade (or generation) event, or a sign of votes to come?
Thought experiment. Trump is so idiosyncratic, it would be difficult to construe a Trump victory in Howard County in November to mean that we are on the precipice of a local liberal/conservative realignment. Even if he obtained a majority of the local vote, and managed to win election to the Presidency, Trump would have plenty of time between January 20, 2017 and November 2018 to completely wreck the GOP brand. In such a scenario, the over/under for County Executive Allan Kittleman to call for a 2020 primary challenge to the Donald would be June 30, 2018. But I am getting ahead of myself.
That said, with the County Exec up for re-election, multiple state legislative and Board of Education races of interest, and four open County Council seats in the ’18 cycle, you better believe that local operatives, activists, and power brokers will spend many chilly November nights pouring over the ’16 Official General Election Results data, searching for portents that will inform their decision-making processes.
Amidst all of this uncertainty, all we can rely upon is mercurial human nature itself.
Stay tuned, as more will follow.