First Click, Maryland:
Democrats win early voting, but should turnout worry party?
Friday, October 29, 2010:
Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and the state's Democratic Party leaders were all smiles on Thursday night following the end of Maryland's first-ever week of general election early voting.
According to early indications, roughly 212,000 people cast ballots over six days and nearly two out of every three were Democrats.
Add that lopsided advantage to the 2-to-1 majority that the party holds so far among returned absentee ballots and it appears Maryland Democrats have cast a total of about 161,000 ballots to Republicans' 90,000.
O'Malley may have been smiling in part because if the early votes are counted before the polls close on Tuesday (as the Maryland State Board of Elections has said they would be to speed returns) then the first dump of votes onto the state's elections Web site at 8 p.m. could show him with an early and substantial lead that former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) may be working all night to overcome.
If you're a Democrat, all that is the good news. If you're a Republican, you might choose to focus on another set of facts: A Washington Post poll released last week, for example, offers a potential bright spot. That poll found O'Malley up by 14 points, but it also asked voters if they would vote early or by mail-in ballot.
Responses could not be vetted as thoroughly as those to other questions in part because there is no previous baseline for early voting in Maryland. However, 16 percent of voters said they planned to vote early or absentee, or that they already had.
In reality, if you add up the early and absentee votes and divide that by the total number of votes cast in Maryland's last gubernatorial election, about 14 percent of those who turned out four years ago have, not 16.
There's a couple big caveats: Some 70,000 requested absentee ballots remain unreturned. And the Post poll had Maryland turnout running a touch below 2006.
But early voters break heavily for O'Malley, by a 68-to-24 percent margin according to the poll, meaning any drop off in early voting would be potentially bad for the incumbent. It may also raise a question of just how big a turnout O'Malley can muster on Election Day.
At this point, maybe it's worth beginning an Election Day Weather Watch. So far: Cloudy with a 50-percent chance of rain.
News You Should Know
Slots opponents charge that Cordish broke election law
"Opponents of slots at Arundel Mills mall are asking Maryland's attorney general to investigate claims that the Cordish Cos. violated election law by offering ownership stakes and perks to local business owners in exchange for support of its planned billion-dollar casino," reports The Baltimore Sun's Nicole Fuller. "In a letter Thursday to Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, the group No Slots at the Mall contends that Cordish Chairman David Cordish acted improperly in offering local business owners the chance to invest in his planned Maryland Live! Casino, saying his actions 'have the effect of improperly influencing the electoral process. These kinds of actions have the potential to undermine the fair electoral process and to undermine public confidence in the electoral system,' reads the letter, signed by the group's chairman, David Jones."
Biden returns to fundraise -- this time for Kratovil
Vice President Joe Biden has traveled to Maryland to fundraise for Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Gov. Martin O'Malley, and on Thursday, he returned for Rep. Frank M. Kratovil Jr. Some 115 people were in attendance for the event at the home of Maryland Democratic Party chairwoman Susan Turnbull, including several of the freshman lawmaker's fellow Maryland congressman, as well as former AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, and state lawmakers. There was no immediate word on the fundaising total. The Sun's Paul West quotes House Democratic Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland defending Kratovil against liberal critics of his voting record, which includes opposition to the federal health care overhaul saying: "Frank is batting .800-plus with us ... I don't want you to tell anyone that," West writes. "Told moments later that a reporter had been present for his remarks, Hoyer said he wasn't saying anything that he did not believe."
-- Aaron C. Davis
The very young guns of politics:
18-year-olds compete for Prince George's school board seat
"On Monday, David Murray stood on a sidewalk in front of the College Park Community Center. Early voting had begun in Maryland, and the candidate for the Prince George's County Board of Education was trolling for votes. 'Hi, I am David Murray. I'm running for the Board of Education. May I ask, what city do you live in?' Edward Burroughs was engaged in a similar effort not far away, just outside the Oxon Hill Library. 'Here you go, ma'am,' the District 8 school board candidate said as he handed out a campaign flier. 'Our school system needs a change.' Both were late for class," writes The Post's Hamil R. Harris. "It is no accident that Murray, who is running for a seat in District 1, and Burroughs are running for office now. Or running for seats on the Board of Education. Or even out campaigning when they should be in class."
The Post's Voter's Guide
Have you decided who you'll vote for? In every race? If not, spend a couple minutes before Tuesday looking over the stories we have written on the Maryland governor's race, and those on down the ballot.
Aaron C. Davis
| October 29, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Aaron C. Davis, First Click
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