Complain Less, Get Involved
It’s been seven months since my last political rumination on TheTentacle.com. The reason for my sabbatical was my full-time employment with the Ehrlich for Governor Campaign.
The lessons I learned, new friends made, experience of running a statewide grassroots operation and playing a role on the inside of a big time professional campaign have been invaluable – plus provided plenty of fodder for future articles.
Over the past week many people have analyzed the results of the 2010 General Election and speculated as to the reasons for such a devastating loss by Bob Ehrlich. Having been part of the campaign, I have found the speculation and the second guessing humorous at best.
Here is the only explanation needed – statewide elections are only a numbers game.
Maryland has 1.9 million Democrats, 900,000 Republicans and 500,000 unaffiliated voters. Roughly 1.3 million total voters live in urban centers (which are not bastions of conservative – or even moderate – thought patterns, but that will be another column. Of the 1.9 million Democrats roughly 30% are minority voters who historically vote straight party ticket at approximately 9 to 1 ratios.
Prior to the 2008 Presidential Election, Maryland Democrats increased their registration numbers by 256,000 new voters. The GOP didn’t even come close with less than 79,000. Democrats out register Republicans in urban centers at a rate of 10 to 1; Bob Ehrlich lost these urban centers at the same rate. Urban centers have more total voters, voting at higher overall percentages for statewide Democrats.
Game over – it’s only math and blind partisan politics.
Local politicos will claim there was little outreach into urban centers and certain counties, but this is not true. I helped with scheduling and tracking the number of visits per jurisdiction. I was the guy who traveled everywhere and talked with everyone in the field. It was the small counties who voted for Bob Ehrlich, electing Republicans as part of the national tide, who were caught short in overall candidate visits.
There were mail pieces and door hangers sent into the large counties in giant quantities, while the smaller population areas were almost left out of the mail plan. The message by mail was the same to everyone – black, white, rich, poor, Democrat or unaffiliated voter. The campaign message sent through the air by TV and radio was also the same, there for all who would look or listen. Nothing special was targeted toward or away from an ethnic group, income group or gender. Bob Ehrlich was equally sold.
Yet the outcome was – every rural and suburban area within every jurisdiction in Maryland voted for Bob Ehrlich while the urban centers rejected him.
Why? Have we been polarized as a society, or is it just Maryland politics?
Maryland is currently the only state in the Union where President Barack Obama has greater than a 50% approval rating. Additionally, over 63% of the nation believes we are on the wrong track. Maryland is the exception to the rule; fact proven as the national GOP tidal wave covered only Maryland’s 1st and 6th Congressional Districts – which, by the way, have few urban centers.
Urban centers were covered with signs reading “Support Obama Vote Early” and “Obama we got your back – Vote Democrat.” There were “Obama Ballots” everywhere – full color pictures featuring front and center President Obama with Martin O’Malley and Anthony Brown all three grinning as if they knew the outcome of the election.
Bob Ehrlich raised almost $8 million dollars in seven months. He campaigned in all 24 jurisdictions, laid out a plan with his Road Map to 2020, spent thousands of hours shaking hands and meeting all types of people. He set records with numbers of friends on Facebook, watched flotillas of watermen and was treated like a rock star in dozens of parades. He ran an excellent campaign with an excellent staff. In any other state in the USA the overall plan would have resulted in a victory.
I know the sacrifices Bob Ehrlich and Mary Kane made on the campaign trail. They were tireless and care deeply for the citizens of Maryland. I have been asked dozens of times what we did wrong. The answer is: nothing.
I wouldn’t redo a single day. Every decision was made correctly at the time and with the information at hand. No one is to blame, nothing went wrong within the campaign – it was a team who cared about Maryland and was dedicated to Bob Ehrlich winning. The campaign was lost to pure partisan politics.
It is easy for the Monday morning quarterbacks to proffer criticism now that the election is final. I was there – inside – and none sent or called into the campaign their pearls of wisdom in the heat of battle – thus I pay no heed to their whining or ponderings now. They need to get a life and move on in a positive direction if they want to make changes in Maryland’s one party system of political dominance. They need to realize the dominance the urban centers play within Maryland.
They need to complain less and get into the real game.