26,209 Democrats vs. 25,507 Republicans; 11,655 county residents who are eligible voters remain unaffiliated
By Guy Leonard, firstname.lastname@example.org
HOLLYWOOD, Md.—St. Marys County has traditionally been a solid and dependable stronghold for Democrats, mostly of the conservative variety, but now the numbers are shifting dramatically so much so that registered Democrats now only outpace Republicans by 702 registered voters.
Chris Quade, an information technology specialist with the countys Board of Elections, said that Republicans have been steadily gaining ground the past couple of years, while Democrat advantage have been going the opposite direction.
Its been steadily going down, Quade said of Democrat registrants, who number 26,209 versus the 25,507 Republican voters in the county.
There are a total of 64,357 registered voters in St. Marys, according to board of elections numbers generated the first of the month, with relatively small numbers signing on as either Green, Constitution, Libertarian or other political party adherents.
But there are still 11,655 county residents who are eligible voters who remain unaffiliated.
The recent shift and mounting Republican gains, Quade said, could represent a major change in the way the county votes next election.
Itll be interesting with the next election to see how many people register, Quade said.
David Willenborg, head of the countys Republican Central Committee, said that last year GOP operatives made a significant push to register residents to vote, though they could not advertise for the Republican Party or let themselves be known as members of that party.
This year Republicans do not have an organized effort to get out the vote, Willenborg said, but the numbers appear to be going there way without it.
Great gains were made last year, Willenborg said, who speculated that the many military and Department of Defense jobs in the county drew a steadily more conservative and GOP friendly base.
My gut is its the work we do here, Willenborg said.
Todd Eberly, political science professor at St. Marys College of Maryland said that not only have GOP numbers been growing at a rate outpacing their Democratic counterparts, but the growth of unaffiliated voters could also help GOP efforts since many of their ranks are filled with conservative Democrats who have dissociated themselves from the party, usually because the parent party has become more and more liberal.
Sometimes the move to being unaffiliated is just a layover before joining the ranks of the GOP, he said.
Eberly pointed to difficult reelections against political newcomers for Democrat delegates John Bohanan and John Wood, traditionally safe bets for retaining their seats by comfortable margins, as well as GOP congressional candidate Charles Lollars resounding victory in St. Marys as harbingers of change.
The same kind of change that had occurred in many other states with conservative Democrats has finally started in Maryland, Eberly said.
Its long overdue when you look at other states, it becomes more and more difficult for conservative democrats to remain with the party, Eberly said. In coming elections youll see some of that traditional Democratic dominance deteriorate.