By Barry Rascovar, for MarylandReporter.com
On the eve of Marylands unexpectedly close gubernatorial election, some tentative conclusions can be drawn:
Pluses for Brown
Anthony Brown did quite well in attracting Democrats to the polls during last weeks early voting.
Nearly one-third of all ballots cast came from three heavily Democratic jurisdictions Baltimore City, Prince Georges County and Montgomery County. In each, there was a substantial jump in turnout from the June primary.
Overall, 102,000 more Democrats voted than Republicans. Brown should start with a big lead on Election Day.
Another good sign for Brown: The states heaviest voting polling place last week was in Randallstown, the heart of Baltimore Countys growing black community.
More good news for the Democrat: Browns running mate, Ken Ulman, did exceedingly well in drawing Democrats to the polls early in Howard County with a 13 percent turnout (the statewide average was 8.3 percent).
Hogans shore support
Republican Larry Hogan can take comfort in the hefty early voting on the Eastern Shore. That Congressional District cast more votes last week than anywhere else.
Yet Brown must be pleased by the turnout in three of his key Congressional Districts that contain most of the states African Americans the 4th (Prince Georges County and Southern Maryland), the 5th (Prince Georges and Anne Arundel counties) and the 7th (black and liberal areas of Metro Baltimore).
The jurisdiction with the largest early turnout, Baltimore County, is likely to favor Hogan, but not by the kind of lopsided Brown margins expected in Prince Georges County and Baltimore City.
Brown got mixed signals in traditionally liberal Montgomery County, which had a weak early turnout. Yet this years early Montgomery numbers were 30 percent better than four years ago.
Early voting, still a new trend in Maryland, appears to favor Democrats.
Republicans remain leery of additional ballot days. They see it as a Democratic scheme to use the superior organizing skill of labor unions to convey more minority, poor and working voters to the polls during those seven extra voting days.
Bringing Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama to Prince Georges County seems to have generated enough buzz to generate a 9.5 percent turnout among the countys Democratic voters.
Hogans celebrity politician, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, brought the GOP candidate money and media coverage with his multiple appearances. Christie, though, isnt a big enough draw to help Hogans early vote numbers.
First Lady Michelle Obamas appearance today in Baltimore could prove important for Brown if Democrats use it to get more African Americans in the region excited about going to the polls tomorrow. Brown has been focusing like a laser on Prince Georges voting, but Baltimore remains a underappreciated linchpin.
Meanwhile, everyone will be waiting for Tuesdays weather forecast.
Right now, it looks like it will be a perfect fall day sunny and warm. Thats great news for Brown, not so for Hogan. The lower the Democratic turnout, the better for the Republican given Democrats 2-1 registration advantage in Maryland.
Questions posed by The Baltimore Sun about Browns strikingly dishonest campaign and his unrepentant mendacity (i.e., hes a serial liar) continue to reverberate. Anyone reading the editorial must wonder how in the world the newspaper ended up endorsing such an ethically flawed candidate.
Even more curious was Del. Heather Mizeurs op-ed column in the newspaper in which she politely excoriated Brown for snubbing her attempts to get him to run a positive campaign in which she would actively engage her supporters on his behalf.
Yet Mizeur, like The Sun, held her nose and told her backers to vote for Brown, not Hogan.
Mizeur might consider this campaign an epic disaster, but shes willing to ignore Browns lying and deception because he is more likely to advance her progressive agenda.
Turnout tomorrow (Tuesday) still holds the key.
Brown needs large numbers in his Democratic strongholds. Hes still a slight favorite due to his built-in voter registration advantage and the trend among black voters to remain loyal to Democratic candidates.
Hogan is counting on a heavier than usual GOP turnout, support from independents and most important of all a growing number of moderate Democrats turned off by Browns ferocious negativity and his sterile, bubble-wrapped campaign.
Clearly, Hogans simplistic economic message (less taxes, less expansive government) has hit a chord with many voters. A win would mark a stunning, surprising turnaround for the states underdog GOP.
The election could align Maryland with the Republican trend elsewhere in the nation.
Barry Rascovar has been covering politics in Maryland for over 40 years. His writing appears at www.politicalmaryland.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.