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September 30, 2004

Is Maryland Still Up for Grabs?

George Wenschhof

This past weekend I was thinking about the presidential election and how all the polls are showing a close race with only five weeks to go until Election Day.

Zogby polling had it President Bush 47 percent, Senator Kerry 44 percent, as of September19. Fox/Opinion Dynamics had it Mr. Bush 45 percent, Mr. Kerry 43 percent on September 22. Of course, we know that what counts is who wins enough states and their electoral votes on November 2nd with a total of at least 270 electoral votes. That person will be the next president of the United States.

Many of the states remain too close to call and according to at least one pollster, Survey USA, Maryland has joined those ranks with President Bush 48 percent, Senator Kerry 48 percent and Other/Undecided 4 percent as of September20. Could this be true? With such a close race, Maryland's 10 electoral votes could end up being critical to the winning candidate.

Eleven days earlier - on September 9 - another pollster, American Res. Group, had Senator Kerry at 52 percent and President Bush at 43 percent in Maryland.

I decided to check the voter data on the Maryland Board of Elections website to see if that could tell me anything.

As of the Primary Election in 2004, Democrats number 56 percent of the registered voters in the state, with Republicans at 30 percent and Unaffliateds/Others at 14 percent.

I also noted the percentage of the registered voters in Frederick County (113,217 as of Primary 2004) is 4 percent of the state total (2,817,938 as of Primary 2004) of registered voters.

Four years ago, Al Gore won the state with 57 percent. Bush had 40 percent and Nader had 3 percent. Registered Democrats and Republicans both had a voter turnout of 77 percent. Unaffiliateds had a voter turnout of 62 percent.

How could President Bush be polling at these numbers when the Democrats outnumber the Republicans by 56-30?

First, I wonder if the Survey USA Poll's accuracy is suspect and I am waiting for another Maryland poll so that comparisons can be made.

Second, I would not discount the impact of a Republican governor in the state. Nor would I discount the impact of the first elected African-American lieutenant governor in Maryland. Remember, they faced the same voter registration two years ago and won.

I watched Lt. Gov. Michael Steele speak at the Republican Convention and today, as I was channel surfing through all the Sunday morning talking heads on television, I saw him with Donna Brazile (former Gore campaign manager) on John McLaughlin's show.

Nonetheless, I believe Senator Kerry will carry Maryland and its 10 electoral votes on November 2nd. A Republican governor and lieutenant governor will not be enough.

I have seen the organization, enthusiasm and energy of the Democrats across the state in their support of John Kerry. Heather Mizeur, a Takoma Park city councilwoman and former domestic policy director in D.C. for Senator Kerry, is the state Kerry/Edwards director. She has a great organization and many talented people helping her.

In the coming weeks, all of the Democratic elected officials including Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, Prince George's Executive Jack Johnson, Mayor Ellen O. Moyer of Annapolis, Congressmen Elijah Cummings and others will be out in force helping get out the Democratic vote for John Kerry.

I do believe it will be a closer election in Maryland this year compared to 2000 but John Kerry will prevail. In fact I will even make my prediction: Kerry 52 percent, Bush 46 percent, and Nader 2 percent.

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