While President Bush lost the state of Maryland by a substantial margin, there is hope in this blue state for the GOP in the future.
In 2000 Bush received 40% of the vote in Maryland and improved that slightly to 43% this year. But the bigger story is that Bush increased his vote total by a whopping 24% compared to 2000. Compare this to Kerry who increased the democratic vote by just 13%. If you add in the Nader vote, the increase drops to 9%. Are the republicans are actually getting competitive in this longtime democratic stronghold? Maybe.
This surge was even more interesting because there wasn’t a gay marriage amendment or any other hot button type of amendment on the ballot. That means that the voters came out strictly to vote on the president and if you believed the media a heavy turnout would be good for the democrats. While Kerry still easily won Maryland, he did a little worse than Al Gore in 2000 and didn’t motivate his base as much as Bush did in the state. This is despite all the effort spent by the democrats in their get out the vote drive. The theory went that more voters meant more votes for their side and therefore a large margin of victory. They did pick up more votes than 2000 but the margin of victory shrank substantially in Maryland. That isn’t exactly a prescription for success in the future.
I knew something was in the wind on November 2nd when at my polling place the 5 pm results had slightly more republicans showing up to vote than democrats in an area that has a 2 to 1 democratic registration advantage. Maryland may be a blue state, but this voter surge and the demographic changes in the state are bringing it ever closer to the red majority.