Wednesday, November 28, 2018

How close should the 2018 Maryland Governor’s race have been?

After my post from this afternoon, I thought I would do some calculations.

As it stands today, the unofficial results are:

Hogan/Rutherford      1,275,644        55.4%

Jealous/Turnbull         1,002,639        43.5%

That is a difference of 273,005 votes, meaning a 136,503 vote flip between those two tickets would have been required to change the outcome.

Let’s compare this to the official 2014 gubernatorial results:

Hogan/Rutherford      884,400           51.0%

Brown/Ulman             818,890           47.2%

Without going into root causes, for a moment, it is easy to spot – at the county-level – certain trends.

While Jealous in 2018 won more votes than Brown in 2014  in six large counties…Brown pulled a larger percentage of the votes won by the Democratic nominee for County Executive in each of those counties.

There are a number of reasons for these variations (presence of a popular Democratic County Executive candidate on the ballot, Jealous’ or Brown’s (and Hogans’) history in a particular county, local party issues, etc…) but let’s take a look at 2014:

                                                Brown/Ulman Vote    D County Exec Vote     Brown/Ulman %

Anne Arundel County              58,001                         68,379                         84.8%
Baltimore County                    102,734                       143,904                       71.4%
Frederick County                     27,682                         42,444                         65.2%
Howard County                       49,227                         50,543                         97.4%
Montgomery County               163,694                       167,052                       98.0%
Prince George’s County          184,950                       195,849                       94.4%

In three counties, the Brown/Ulman ticket secured most of the Democratic vote, in three others, there is evidence of ticket-splitting involving the gubernatorial and CE races. 

The vast majority of Watson, Leggett, and Baker voters cast their ballots for Brown.  Brown obtained almost 85% of the number of votes recorded by Johnson in Anne Arundel.  Kamenetz and Garder outpaced Brown by significant amounts, which indicated a fair number of Hogan/Kamenetz and Hogan/Gardner voters in Baltimore and Frederick Counties, respectively. 

Now, let’s look at 2018:

                                                Jealous/Turnbull         D County Exec             Jealous/Turnbull %

Anne Arundel County              69,399                         118,572                       58.5% (-26.3%)
Baltimore County                    122,773                       186,693                       65.8% (-5.6%)
Frederick County                     33,355                         55,692                         59.9% (-5.3%)
Howard County                       61,146                         75,566                         80.9% (-16.5%)
Montgomery County               224,029                       259,901*                     86.2% (-11.8%)
Prince George’s County          225,889                       294,372                       76.7% (-17.7%)

Look at those percentages.  The gubernatorial “drop-off” in certain counties compared to 2014 is massive.  It should be noted that the 2018 Montgomery County calculations do not include the 76,092 Floreen voters, just those who cast their ballots for the Democratic nominee, Elrich.

Democrats casting a ballot…but not for the Democratic gubernatorial nominee (either by leaving that race blank or voting for Hogan) made a difference here.  The gap between Alsobrooks and Jealous in PG County was enormous.  It would likely have been even larger in Montgomery County if one assumes that a third of Floreen’s support came from Democrats. One can infer from the data that there were a number of Hogan/Pittman voters in AA, Hogan/Johnny O voters in Baltimore County, Hogan/Gardner voters in Frederick County, and yes, even some Hogan/Ball voters in Howard County.  

So what would have happened had Jealous garnered simply the same percentage of the Democratic County Executive candidate vote that Brown did in 2014 in each of those counties?  He would have picked up the following number of votes per county:

Anne Arundel County:             31,150 votes
Baltimore County:                   10,525 votes
Frederick County:                    2,956 votes
Howard County                       12,455 votes
Montgomery County:              30,673 votes

So far, that adds up to another 87,759 votes.  Let’s further assume they were vote flips (Hogan to Jealous).  It changes only one county outcome (Jealous winning HoCo by a narrow margin in this scenario). 

No, I have not forgotten about PG County. Using the same formula, Jealous picks up:

Prince George’s County:         51,998 votes.

Again, the lack of resources really hurt Jealous in PG…with tens of thousands of Democrats voting for Alsobrooks but not Jealous.  Now, it would be a stretch to do a vote flip here, but let’s add those Democrats to Jealous’ total and leave Hogan’s PG figures unchanged.

So the math works out like this:

Hogan: 1,275,644 – 87,759 vote flip = 1,187,885 votes
Jealous: 1,002,639 + 87,759 vote flip + 51,998 PG votes = 1,142,396 votes

Yes, a difference of only 45,489 votes, significantly closer than the 2014 Brown – Hogan vote gap (65,510 votes).  And, bear in mind, this analysis only looked at six of Maryland’s counties…not Baltimore City or any of the other Counties (most of which do not have a County Executive equivalent). 

So when looking at the Actual Vote vs. the Expected Vote, the Booms Quotient ™ validates the hypothesis (and common-sense conclusion) that yes, a number of Democratic votes were left on the proverbial table in 2018.  As to why that occurred, there are several theories.  This author discussed some factors in the previous post.  Others have recorded their thoughts as well, with varying degrees of intellectual rigor, personal credibility, rectitude, accuracy, and/or panache.

My point is this:  the Maryland gubernatorial election could and should have been closer and we need to learn lessons from it, the right lessons.  Many Maryland progressives won, so Jealous’ defeat cannot be pinned solely on his running on a progressive platform.  I believe that a thorough examination will reveal a number of reasons for his lack of electoral success in 2018…and that Democrats can and should learn from them so we can be better situated for victory at the gubernatorial level in 2022.

In solidarity.

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