ChrisWeigant.com

Watching Maryland

[ Posted Tuesday, May 14th, 2024 – 15:39 UTC ]

Today my eyes have turned towards Maryland, and not just to watch the video clips of the explosive demolition of part of the Francis Scott Key Bridge (which was indeed fascinating to see). The plans to fully reopen the port seem to be moving forward on schedule, which is doubtlessly some very welcome news for both the city and the whole state. But tonight I'll be watching Maryland for a different reason, since they are holding their primary election today.

The big race worth watching here is who will win the Democratic primary for an open Senate seat. The Republican primary became a foregone conclusion with the entry of the state's former governor, Larry Hogan. Which Democrat will face him could be crucial to control of the Senate this November, though.

Maryland is a very blue state, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by around 2-to-1. But it's also a state that occasionally elects Republican governors (not unlike Massachusetts and even California, if you count Arnold Schwarzenegger). Hogan served for two terms as Maryland's governor and was very well-loved when he left the job (due to term limits). His response to the COVID-19 pandemic was nothing short of exemplary, especially in contrast to what some other Republican governors did (to say nothing of the federal government under Donald Trump). Hogan followed the science and the recommendations from experts as best he could, and even at one point even had the state's National Guard protect an airplane full of test kits from possibly being seized (read: "stolen") by the federal government (which had indeed happened elsewhere).

All of this left Hogan with very high approval ratings both during the pandemic and when he left office. This deep-blue state supported him overwhelmingly, mostly for being a commonsense leader rather than buying in to Trump's anti-science nonsense (as many other Republican governors did). I personally spoke to some die-hard Democrats during this period who were not just supportive of Hogan but were actually "ready to go out and campaign for him," which was pretty surprising to hear. As the Republican Party was slowly taken over by buffoons, Hogan was a competent GOP politician who also had the benefit of being sane. He has said some very harsh things about Donald Trump as well. This is all why he stood out so much.

When the 2024 election season began, Hogan contemplated a run for the presidency. He decided not to directly take Trump on in the Republican primaries, but he did continue to flirt with mounting some sort of third-party bid. The No Labels movement was more than a little interested in him, but in the end he decided not to launch a presidential campaign. He launched a Senate campaign instead. And while the Democrat in the race (whichever one it turns out to be) is going to be considered the favorite, Hogan is going to be a lot more competitive than any other Maryland Republican would have been. The Republican Party and outside groups will be spending a lot of money in the state to make this race as competitive as possible, in fact.

Vying for the chance to take on Hogan are Angela Alsobrooks, who is the executive of Prince George's County (a suburban county next to Washington D.C.), and Representative David Trone, who represents a district including not just D.C. suburbs but also the entire western part of the state (which is rural and mountainous). Trone is a self-made multi-millionaire who made his money from a chain of beer and wine stores, and could easily finance his entire campaign himself (he's already spent over $50 million of his own money so far). Alsobrooks would be the first Black senator from Maryland ever and would become only the third Black woman elected to the Senate in U.S. history (plus, to be historically accurate, one more who is currently serving -- Senator Laphonza Butler -- who was appointed to fill the vacancy left by Dianne Feinstein's death, but is not running to keep her seat).

The race between the two Maryland Democrats has been contentious. The fear is that all the infighting might damage whoever emerges victorious, which will be a real concern since they'll be facing the still-popular Larry Hogan in the fall. It has split the state party, although Alsobrooks locked up a lot more party support than Trone. But Trone could finance his own race, which is something to consider (since it would mean that big Democratic donors could be steered towards giving to other states' contentious Senate races).

Trone had been leading in the polling, but the latest poll (conducted last week) showed Alsobrooks with a three-point lead, so she could be surging at the last minute.

As mentioned, the race has been contentious and Trone has said a few things that some Democrats might consider unforgiveable. The big question is whether the party will come back together after the primary, which will be necessary to take on Hogan in the general election.

The biggest question for the general election is whether Maryland voters who were quite happy with Hogan as governor would be equally as happy to send him to the Senate. With control of the chamber possibly hanging in the balance, Hogan isn't just a well-loved former governor, he is also a Republican -- and would thus be expected to vote for traditional Republican agenda items. Including, perhaps, abortion restrictions. Maryland will have a ballot measure to protect abortion rights on the ballot this November, so the issue will be at the forefront of voters' thoughts. If the Senate were heavily Democratic or heavily Republican, then Hogan might have a much better shot at winning -- since then it wouldn't really matter to the balance of power if he won. But with partisan control balancing on a knife-edge, the voters will be mindful of what handing control of the Senate to Republicans would mean.

So as I'm watching the returns come in tonight, I will be wondering if the Democratic Party can coalesce around the victor. If Trone wins, will the Democratic machine shift to supporting him with no hard feelings? If Trone loses, will he still be donating gobs of money to the race (even though it'll be for the candidate who beat him)?

This has been a fairly sleepy primary season, since the two major parties' presidential candidates locked up their nomination almost at the very start, but there are other races still worth watching. One of the hardest-fought of these will be decided tonight. So even before the running of the Preakness this weekend, my eyes have turned to Maryland to see which candidate noses the other one out.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

12 Comments on “Watching Maryland”

  1. [1] 
    Kick wrote:

    Trone had been leading in the polling, but the latest poll (conducted last week) showed Alsobrooks with a three-point lead, so she could be surging at the last minute.

    Without getting into the weeds or going into the finer (boring) details, is it just me or has anyone else noticed more than one poll out there that has been wildly inaccurate? Rhetorical question (mostly).

  2. [2] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    agree, political polling has gotten progressively less and less reliable over the last decade or so. there are many reasons why, but i think the main one is probably non-random sampling.

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Heh.

  4. [4] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Kick,

    Polling is getting noticeably worse and worse. Pollsters have lost access to a massive chunk of the general public that they have always relied on for their data. Landlines are no longer found in many homes. People use their cell phones exclusively, and those numbers aren't as easily attainable for the pollsters to call.

    Also, who accepts phone calls from unknown numbers these days? Lonely people. Why are the elderly always the main group getting scammed by criminals? They are the only people willing to talk to a total stranger and stay on the call long enough to give up their personal info. I would bet that polling respondents make up a large portion of fraud victims. Not sure how pollsters are going to expand their pool of respondents, but they desperately need to if they are to be relevant.

    Love ya, sweet friend!

    R

  5. [5] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Political pollsters should have rightfully been forced out of business after 2016, and as Listen says, it's now even more futile.

  6. [6] 
    Kick wrote:

    nypoet22
    2

    agree, political polling has gotten progressively less and less reliable over the last decade or so. there are many reasons why, but i think the main one is probably non-random sampling.

    That definitely seems to be part of the problem. These pollsters probably also aren't eating enough pie. ;)

  7. [7] 
    Kick wrote:

    Elizabeth Miller
    3

    Heh.

    Not sure what you find so comical, Elizabeth.

    I'm certainly not referring to small differences in outcomes that fall within the margins of error of polls; I'm referring to wildly inaccurate polls that don't even come remotely close to the outcome... and other details regarding polling for which I (still) won't get into the weeds.

    So even before the running of the Preakness this weekend, my eyes have turned to Maryland to see which candidate noses the other one out.

    ~ Chris Weigant

    Specifically referring to the Democratic race for a Senate seat in Maryland that was the subject of CW's article, based on polls the outcome was expected to be horse race that could go either way, but the outcome of that race in the only poll that counted was Alsobrooks winning by an ass-kicking 12 points... and not even close to the first time there's been a wildly divergent outcome from the polls.

  8. [8] 
    Kick wrote:

    ListenWhenYouHear
    4

    Russ! So good to "see" you.

    Also, who accepts phone calls from unknown numbers these days?

    Not me! And I think you're onto another big part of the polling issues.

    Love ya, sweet friend!

    Love ya more. Stay safe and don't be a stranger. X0X0X0

  9. [9] 
    Kick wrote:

    C. R. Stucki
    5

    Political pollsters should have rightfully been forced out of business after 2016, and as Listen says, it's now even more futile.

    Well, it looks like we may have found something most of us can agree on, and I'm not talking small differences, many of these primary polls have been wildly off... so maybe it's a good thing and people will vote. :)

  10. [10] 
    dsws wrote:

    My guess is that the difficulties of polling are generally overestimated. It's a lot harder to get responses, but they can control for a lot of stuff. In 2016, the polling didn't say Hillary was going to win. The media said that. The polling said it looked more likely to be Hillary than Trump, but there was a horrifyingly large probability of a Trump win.

  11. [11] 
    dsws wrote:

    If the polling said two out of three chance, and it picked the right winner every time, then it really would be wrong.

  12. [12] 
    Kick wrote:

    Just to be clear, my original comment had nothing at all to do with any of the polls in 2016 (which actually did fall within the margin of error) or any presidential polls (either then or now) and everything to do with the more wildly divergent primary polls of late.

    I have actually discovered a pattern to it after doing a deep dive into the weeds, but I won't get into the details unless it holds up throughout the primaries. And I'm not talking small differences within the MOE... big ones.

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