Monday, November 06, 2006

Election Eve

T'was the night before voting
and all through the state
all the bloggers were writing
about Maryland's fate.

Everyone agrees that tomorrow is Maryland's biggest election in decades. There is an open Senate seat for the first time since 1986. The incumbent governor is a Republican in a Democratic state facing a challenge from one of the region's strongest politicians. In short: things are interesting.

Both of these races are considered too close to call. While the Democrats have consistently came out ahead in the polls, Republican senatorial candidate Michael Steele has a very real chance of winning. Many anaylists calculate that Steele, the state's first black Lt. Governor, could win the race if he garners between 15 and 25 percent of the black vote. The most recent Baltimore Sun poll found Steele with backing from 12 percent of black voters, compared to 74 percent for the Democratic candidate, Rep. Ben Cardin of the Baltimore suburbs. If Steele made further inroads in the black community in the past five days, he may well have secured a victory.

Not only is the race close, it's also crucial. Democrats need to pick up six seats to gain a majority in the US Senate. If they manage to pull it off in the battlegrounds across the coutry, it would be a huge upset to lose Maryland to Michael Steele. Especially considering that it would be in the face of a national trend against Republicans. That is why it is very appropriate to nationalize this election: the fate of the Senate hangs in the balance. A vote against Michael Steele could mean improved oversight of this power-hungry executive branch, shifting to an agenda that addresses issues relevant to people's lives and a new dynamic in our nation's most prestigious chamber. A vote for Steele could bring more of the incompetent, misguided and dangerous government we already have.

His current boss, incumbent Gov. Robert Ehrlich, has much less reason for optimism. Ehrlich must be credited for closing the gap in the polls. One year ago, Ehrlich trailed his Democratic opponent, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, by 15 points. A similar poll conducted last week found Ehrlich only 1 point behind. This is good news, but it doesn't spell victory for the governor. Any incumbent with an approval rating of 39 percent in an election year, as was Ehrlich's, is not likely to win reelection. He also faces a tough challenge from politico O'Malley, who is widely hailed as one of the Democratic party's rising stars.

For those who have yet to make up their minds in the gubernatorial election, we recommend the cover story from this week's City Paper, Baltimore's renouned alternative weekly. The article takes an objection and thorough look at O'Malley's record as Mayor, judging him against criteria he himself set in his 1999 mayoral bid. The report offers a boatload of statistics to examine the Democrat's record on crime, education, development and accountability. It is an excellent piece for anyone deciding whether or not to cast their vote for the mayor of Maryland's largest and greatest city.

While the top of the ticket is causing quite a bit of nail biting, the other statewide races seem shoe-ins for Democrats. Voters tend not to pay much attention to the "wonkish" posts of attorney general and comptroller. With such limited knowledge, most tend to vote their party affiliation. That heavily favors the Democrats in Maryland, meaning Peter Franchot will very likely win the comptroller's race and Doug Gansler will be the next attorney general.

There also is really no question about the fate of our legislature. The General Assembly is heavily Democratic and nobody really expects any sort of detectable shift. The minority party have decidedly low expectations, hoping to pick up only a five Senate seats and neglecting to run candidates in heavily Democratic districts. This dynamic means that even if Ehrlich manages to win re-election, he will find himself facing a legislature which he has often criticized for obstructing his agenda.

Tomorrow will be an extraordinarily exciting day for observers of Maryland politics. And so will Wednesday. And Thursday. And every day until the absentee votes are counted, the lawsuits are decided and the results are firmly established. We hope this election turns out in the interests of Baltimore City and its residents.

from The League: Reassembled


Blogger Stephanie Dray said...

New poll shows momentum back in favor of Democrats, and O'Malley back in a more substantial lead. It's not going to be a cake-walk, especially since there will be rain tomorrow. So let's get out the vote.

11/06/2006 09:56:00 PM  
Blogger The League: Reassembled said...

Stephanie makes a great point about the rain. The forecast is particularly a problem here in Baltimore, where our voters tend to come out early. Many Baltimoreans, especially the strongly Democratic black elderly, refuse to leave their homes after dark because of an escalated threat of crime. Rain early in the day may mean this important constituency never gets out at all.

11/06/2006 10:41:00 PM  
Blogger nickshepDEM said...



11/06/2006 11:30:00 PM  
Blogger Mdman said...

I have never walked so much in my life as I have walked over the last three days canvassing. I bet I knocked on over 200 doors since Saturday morning. I wish I knew how many miles I have walked, but it's been many. I have been encouraging "drop off" Dems to vote. Most of the ones I have spoken to say they are going to vote. It's unfortunate that quite a number of college students didn't get absentee ballots, but quite a number did.

I'd like to know how many phone calls I made, plus how many doors I have knocked on since I started this effort in the summer. Still, it's the best way that I know to make a difference. I know that I personally got one person to register to vote who had not been registered and he will vote for the Dems, plus the folks I called who got absentee ballots and the opinions I might have changed during phone banking and canvassing.

I went to the Clinton rally last night and enjoyed it. I think we will take the two top of the ticket races, but we won't really know until tomorrow.

11/06/2006 11:43:00 PM  
Blogger Thomas Nephew said...

I'm back from canvassing this morning in Silver Spring, back out in a couple of hours to nail this thing down. :) Thanks Mdman, Stephanie, and everyone else for all your work.

11/07/2006 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger The League: Reassembled said...

Can't tell mdman how many doors were knocked and phones were rung by him personally, but we can report that the Democrat's GOTV effort broke records this cycle. On Friday alone, the canvassing goal of 20,000 contacts was surpassed: we hit 41,000 across the state. The phone bank lists, known as "universes," had to be updated four more times than expected because we reached so many voters.

If we lose this election, we're losing it on policy positions and political views, not for lack of an effective GOTV.

11/07/2006 01:19:00 PM  

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