No foolin’ – really?

I know a fair number of people will consider this a cheap shot, but is this something a legitimate candidate would cite?

As I pointed out yesterday, I get a lot of e-mail from candidates asking me for money. But in building his case for his campaign, Larry Hogan made the following statement:

My campaign for Governor has a commanding lead in the Republican primary. In fact, a recent poll shows that we garner more support than all the other candidates combined, with over 50 percent of voters supporting us. We can win this race!

Really? You’re citing the Red Maryland poll, which even the authors admit isn’t scientific and is backed by a website which endorsed you before you even formally entered the race? How low of information voters do you think you’ll reach?

Granted, I’ve made news before from a Larry Hogan poll of my own but at least at the time I fessed up to the fact it wasn’t a scientific poll.

And maybe it’s not Larry’s fault, since the e-mail itself traces back to a firm called SalientMG. But it is a little deceptive to say you already have over 50 percent primary support when no reputable poll puts you over 20 percent at the moment.

In many respects Hogan’s statement is like bragging about winning a straw poll, which a fellow candidate has done on a couple occasions only to be mocked for doing so. Then again, we can be far more certain those running the straw polls probably weren’t in the tank for the winner. The Red Maryland poll wasn’t quite like the Crimean referendum, but it was sort of close.

I’ll be more interested to see the fundraising reports in a couple weeks. If Larry Hogan has raised over 50% of the Republican money then maybe I’ll see him as a more legitimate front runner – right now I think it’s still anyone’s race. Some have a lot more work to do than others, but we still have almost three months.

WaPo poll: Hogan lead cut to 4

February 19, 2014 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, Polling · Comments Off 

Just a couple days after its Baltimore competitor unveiled an OpinionWorks poll which showed Larry Hogan with a six-point lead over David Craig and the others in the quest for the Republcan nomination for governor, the Washington Post put out its own survey which captured the views of 290 randomly selected GOP voters and leaners. In their survey, undecided was again the clear winner with 56%, with Hogan at 17%, David Craig at 13%, Charles Lollar in third at 10%, and Ron George pulling 5%. As I did the other day, extrapolating results leaves me with this breakdown:

  • Larry Hogan – 38%
  • David Craig – 29%
  • Charles Lollar – 22%
  • Ron George – 11%

The survey, though, has a large margin of error of 7% for Republicans, compared to 5.5% for Democrats. On their side, Anthony Brown has a 19-point lead over Doug Gansler, who in turn leads Heather Mizeur by seven points. The survey was conducted Thursday through Sunday.

Unlike the Sun poll, there are a wide variety of crosstabs available in the WaPo survey. Most of them favor Hogan, but the independents surveyed backed Craig by a 16-14 margin. David also scored well with Baltimore-area voters and with college graduates, both categories where he ran even with Hogan.

Another interesting facet of this poll was favorability ratings for each candidate. I’ll go from highest among all candidates to the lowest.

  • Anthomy Brown – 30% (16% unfavorable, +14)
  • Doug Gansler – 22% (17% unfavorable, +5)
  • Larry Hogan – 15% (8% unfavorable, +7)
  • Heather Mizeur – 13% (9% unfavorable, +4)
  • David Craig – 11% (10% unfavorable, +1)
  • Ron George – 8% (7% unfavorable, +1)
  • Charles Lollar – 6% (9% unfavorable, -3)

So it appears Hogan’s very non-specific campaign has attracted notice without driving up unfavorables. Note this was done before David Craig put out a program to eventually phase out the state’s income tax.

Making a RealClearPolitics-style average of the results so far, we get the following on the GOP side:

  1. Larry Hogan – 14.4%
  2. David Craig – 9.3% (-5.1)
  3. Charles Lollar – 7.5% (-6.9)
  4. Ron George – 5.1% (-9.3)

Doing the same for Democrats:

  1. Anthony Brown – 34.5%
  2. Doug Gansler – 14.4% (-20.1)
  3. Heather Mizeur – 9.1% (-25.4)

While it appears that George is slipping just beyond the margin of error, the other two are still within striking distance. On the Democratic side, it’s Anthony Brown’s race to lose. Note that the foibles of Maryland’s health exchange aren’t affecting Brown among the base.

Larry Hogan is spinning this, using an unreleased “internal poll” to note:

(I)nternal polling by a respected national pollster gives Hogan an excellent chance to win in November. Hogan has a 30% better chance of beating Brown than Gansler has, and the polling also shows Hogan has a 36% better chance of winning than Bob Ehrlich had when he was elected governor in 2002.

Obviously without context it sounds great, but one has to ask if Brown would be as weak of a candidate as Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was in 2002.

There is generally one more poll which comes out around this time of year, but I have no word on whether a new Maryland Poll will come from Gonzales Research anytime soon. Back in October, Brown had a 41-21 advantage over Doug Gansler, with 5% preferring Heather Mizeur.

Hogan leads in first inning

At last we have a scientific poll to determine who is the top dog among Republican voters, and the big winner is…undecided.

I know that belies my headline, but an OpinionWorks poll for the Baltimore Sun found 68% of Republican voters hadn’t made their mind up yet. Of those expressing a preference, the poll looks like this:

  • Larry Hogan – 13%
  • David Craig – 7%
  • Ron George – 6%
  • Charles Lollar – 5%

Doing some quick math and extrapolating the numbers, the primary would come out like this:

  • Larry Hogan – 42%
  • David Craig – 23%
  • Ron George – 19%
  • Charles Lollar – 16%

In other words, I would be pretty close to my 60 percent statement from the other night.

According to the Sun, the poll was taken from 1,199 likely Maryland voters over last week (Saturday through Wednesday.) 499 of them were likely Republican primary voters, with 500 likely Democratic primary voters backing Anthony Brown by a significant 21 point margin over Doug Gansler, with Heather Mizeur just 4 points back from Gansler. (40% are still undecided, though.) Margin of error on both polls is 4.4 points, so in actual terms all four GOP candidates are within the margin of error at this point.

OpinionWorks is the Sun‘s resident pollster, and they recently did a poll suggesting an additional $1 per pack tobacco tax would be acceptable to state voters. (They didn’t call me, or the “no” would have been larger.) Based on their body of work, they would seem to be a more left-leaning pollster, sort of in the same vein as Public Policy Polling. At this point, though, there’s no real reason to suspect they would have their finger on the scale of the Republican race.

Of course, we didn’t get any direct polling of possible matchups, such as Brown vs. Hogan, which is unfortunate because there’s no way to find out whether Larry’s more or less populist, anti-establishment message is selling. He’s been good at criticizing the current lieutenant governor for both actions and inaction, but Hogan hasn’t completely spelled out an agenda on key issues like education and the environment. Does he tack to the center and risk alienating a large portion of his base like his former employer did?

There’s also the aspect of name recognition. Back in November I wrote about a Goucher College poll measuring how well-known the various candidates were. It still seems to track well, given that the Democrats were more well-known at the time and now have far fewer undecided voters. Indeed, a current 28-point difference in undecideds matches up well with November’s 31.7 point name recognition gap between Anthony Brown and David Craig. (Larry Hogan was not part of the November poll.) Once people begin to pay attention to who the players are, the polls will start moving up for the various candidates.

My last observation is wondering whether Hogan’s success is akin to a “convention bump” because he’s announced so recently. A poll taken in March or April will help to determine this. I think Larry is indeed the leading contender, but I don’t think he’s really getting nearly twice as many votes as any of the others in the field – this is why I compared the results to giving up a 3-run homer in the top of the first. As people begin to get to know Larry Hogan on the campaign trail, he will either break the game open or allow the opposition to catch up.

The push for polls

On several occasions I’ve bemoaned the fact there are no polls in the Republican race, aside perhaps from internal polls not released to the public. It has given somewhat outsized importance to website-based polls such as the Red Maryland poll or the Red White Blue poll, neither of which are scientific. The same goes for a poll sponsored by the Gazette newspaper, which as I write this has Larry Hogan with a slight lead over Charles Lollar, with David Craig and Ron George trailing significantly; on the other hand, George has won the last two Red Maryland polls. The proof that the internet-based polling may be overblown is the amount of cajoling the candidates (or supporters) have done to solicit support, particularly in the Gazette poll since it’s a “reputable” news site.

  • David Craig on Facebook Monday: “Please take a moment to show your support by casting your vote for me in this online poll.”
  • Ron George on Facebook Monday: “Please take a moment to vote in today’s Capital Gazette online poll, ‘If the Republican primary were today, who would you vote for as the nominee for governor?’”
  • Larry Hogan on Facebook Monday (via Change Maryland): “First online poll since our Harvest Party with Change Maryland‘s founder and Chairman Larry Hogan in it. Please click on this link to cast your votes.”
  • Charles Lollar on Facebook Tuesday: “Good Morning Lollar Supporters! We are only a few points away from taking 1st place in this poll. Please vote for Chares Lollar, the only candidate that can win in the General Election. Vote from your computer, your work computer, your phone. Together WE can do this!”

That’s just one of several appeals, mainly from the Lollar and Hogan camps. But Larry is going one better, based on a newsletter I received yesterday:

Earn points by helping us Change Maryland by sharing our posts, by getting your friends involved, and by engaging in the conversation. Use your Change Maryland points towards getting Change Maryland stickers, T-shirts, hats and awesome polos!

I was thinking I already have the sticker, and as much as I’ve pimped the group over two years I could qualify for being clad head to toe. The group continues to add followers and may have 70,000 before the week is out. But the political world isn’t based on Facebook likes or easily-manipulated internet polls; the question is how real voters will really react when the ballots are cast in June.

As I have often pointed out, a poll such as the Red Maryland poll or Gazette poll simply is a basis of knowing how many people are in the devoted 1% of followers – consider that if you believed a number of internet polls, we would be talking about President Ron Paul right now. But in real life he rarely cracked double digits in any primary.

Regardless, this all means the gubernatorial race isn’t taking much of a holiday break.

Update: Steve Crim of Change Maryland alerted me to the fact this Change Maryland point promotion has been underway since June – I already have 116 points!

A course to work on

November 7, 2013 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics, Polling · Comments Off 

Thanks to my reading of the other side – namely the Maryland Juice website – I was alerted to a poll conducted recently. It’s a poll which shows that we as a movement and party have some work to do.

I’m going to reserve comment on the Goucher College survey insofar as the questions on minimum wage and pensions, the results of which gave me the sick sensation that people in this state really don’t understand economics, and focus on the key question of name recognition. Obviously I knew every name on this list but it turns out most of Maryland is familiar with few of the people running for governor. In order of name recognition, the percentages of people who have heard of these candidates are as follows:

  • Anthony Brown – 62.3%
  • Doug Gansler – 57.9%
  • Dutch Ruppersberger – 49.1%
  • David Craig – 30.6%
  • Charles Lollar – 22.7%
  • Ron George – 21.6%
  • Heather Mizeur – 13.1%

Now this is a strict name recognition poll, and not a favorable/unfavorable one. But as you can see all of the GOP hopefuls trail all but one of the Democrats, which presents a problem but also an opportunity.

As we saw in the Virginia gubernatorial race, Ken Cuccinelli lost because he was defined by his opponent as hostile on social issues. Not only was the press generally favorable to Terry McAuliffe, he had a lot more money to spend in the latter days of the campaign to pour onto the thick layer of mud which had been slung for several months from both sides.

So an obvious goal of all candidates is to bring that name recognition number up, but also do it in such a way to present a positive image. With the rash of bad news Doug Gansler has endured, surely his recognition is up – but just as certainly his negatives are as well. The same can become true of Anthony Brown, since in the same Goucher Poll his boss Martin O’Malley only had a 41-40 favorable vs. unfavorable ratio, with strong unfavorables running 11.3 points ahead of strong favorables (e.g. a -11.3, which echoes the -15.1 O’Malley had in the recent Maryland Poll). Those two are as peas in a pod to me.

Besides, the factor Marylanders are most looking for in their next governor is trustworthiness. I don’t trust any of the Democrats any farther than I can throw them – the closest is Mizeur, who makes no bones about being liberal.

If we can alert as many Marylanders as possible to our candidates with good and truthful words – accentuate the positive – it makes their job easier. Time to get to work.

The perception of reality

When you think about it, the number of people represented by the Red Maryland poll is generally about 1/10 of 1 percent of the potential Republican electorate in the state. So why do I see e-mails and Facebook messages from the three candidates encouraging me to vote in their poll?

Well, before I answer that question, let me state that as a blogger I understand the reason behind the poll. Truth be told, it’s not necessarily to provide an accurate barometer of the race – it’s to bring eyes and ears to the Red Maryland blog and network, respectively. It’s the reason I’ve done polls, and often I see a bump in the numbers if I put up an interesting horserace. It might even attract a little notice for me outside the blogosphere.

But Lord knows none of us have the scratch to come up with a scientific method of gauging the true snapshot of the electorate – not that it can’t get blown out of the water by potential events anyway – so we do the next best thing. If they have 500 or 600 responses to their poll, well, that means 500 or 600 people read their website over the period in question. (Obviously some read the site without responding to the poll, so in reality they have hundreds more who stop by during the week they have it up.) Same goes for the radio show where the results are revealed. I may be a dumb country hick from the Black Swamp of northwest Ohio, but I can figure out that much about marketing.

So let’s take this e-mail Ron George sent out as one example:

The November Red Maryland Poll is open for the next two days, so please cast your vote for Ron George for Governor. With your help, Ron came in 1st place in the October Poll, and we look forward to winning back to back months.

Not to be outdone, David Craig mentioned via Facebook:

Maryland deserves a leadership team with vast experience and a real record of accomplishments. Please take a moment to show your support for that team by voting for “David Craig” in this month’s Red Maryland Poll.

I haven’t seen anything from Charles Lollar yet, but he and the Red Maryland crew probably aren’t the best of pals right now anyway. Last month he came in just south of “undecided” but he had otherwise polled relatively well there. (Along with “undecided” all three polled in a narrow range between 20 and 30 percent.)

Of course, these aren’t scientific polls so we have no clue how these candidates would do with a “real” electorate. I guess the real value of the poll – as I have said on occasions before, which holds true in this case as well – lies in the poll providing a gauge of passionate supporters. So, at least in October, Ron George had the largest number of passionate supporters, although no one was really short on them overall. Insofar as that polling has shown, it’s been a solid three-way race throughout.

Winning an internet poll may not give you a boost in the real polls but it provides some good press for the winning campaign, so there is that.

Now, speaking of polls, for the fourth time in five years I’ve found myself nominated for a Mobbie Award. (Actually, two.)

I harbor no illusions of winning an award, seeing that it’s essentially a popularity contest and my website is probably not nearly as well-read as some of the others nominated. Let’s face it: a blog discussing Ravens football is going to cream mine in readership and probably voting as well. Even among the nominees in the News Blog and Political Blog categories, I’m sure other contenders have higher traffic (although I enjoyed a somewhat better than average week last week, with nice consistency. Thanks, folks.)

Knowing that, I don’t figure on winning the Reader’s Choice Award. But I don’t want to finish last, either. So if you feel inclined to do so, I would appreciate the support. If you can’t bring yourself to support me, vote for Raging Against the Rhetoric (Jackie Wellfonder’s site) because I nominated her in the political category.

Someone might get the perception I have a halfway-decent website if I happen to win, and who knows? It may attract a couple dozen advertisers and other major sponsors. You can beat the rush, though, and get in on the ground floor – just go here for details.

The first real poll

Yesterday the latest Maryland Poll from Gonzales Research came out (h/t Maryland Reporter), and it suggests that we have a long way to go in educating the voters of this state about the real facts at hand. But there are a few encouraging signs, I suppose.

In the nine months since a similar sampling in January, we can now determine that Barack Obama’s job approval has gone down six points in the topline, from 64% to 58%. But the difference between “strongly approve” and “strongly disapprove” has plummeted in that span: it was +19.4 in January but is now just +6.7. A 13-point swing in that demographic suggests the national economic situation of an ongoing sluggish “recovery” is taking its toll.

By the same token, the 54% job approval Martin O’Malley enjoyed in January was a mirage, too. O’Malley now finds himself in a statistical dead heat, with 48% approval and disapproval in the October poll. But that difference between “strongly approve’ and “strongly disapprove” has once again moved more than the six-point decline on the topline, going from a +0.2 in January to a (-15.1) now. That’s an even more pronounced 15-point swing not shown by a 6 point drop in the headlines. Tellingly, nearly 3 of 10 Democrats now disapprove of O’Malley.

But that doesn’t seem to reflect on Anthony Brown, who leads the first non-campaign poll by a fairly similar margin to the Garin-Hart-Yang poll released by Brown’s campaign last month. The Maryland Poll has Anthony Brown/Ken Ulman at 41%, Doug Gansler/Jolene Ivey at 21%, and Heather Mizeur at 5%. (Maybe she can have Wayne Gilchrest as a running mate. As an aside, Mizeur also got the endorsement of Salisbury City Council member Laura Mitchell.)

Unfortunately, the numbers trend the wrong way on some key issues. While 49% of Marylanders polled favored the death penalty and 44% opposed it in January, those numbers are now reversed in that 49% favor the law rescinding it and 44% said no. Then again, its support was rather soft all along because it had a strong approve/strong disapprove ratio of (-3.2) in January while the repeal now has a +5.5 ratio. In part, this is probably because of the state’s reluctance to use the death penalty and the over-sensationalized Kirk Bloodsworth case. However, I would wager that if you put a name and a victim to a case (e.g. Thomas Leggs and Sarah Foxwell) the support for rescinding the death penalty repeal declines drastically. (In that case, Leggs pled guilty to avoid the death penalty, while the family agreed because of the probability of endless appeals.)

Meanwhile, those who responded to the poll must have believed the onerous gun laws passed by Martin O’Malley and Democrats would actually curb crime. When asked in January, support for an assault weapons ban in the immediate wake of Sandy Hook was 58-40 (with a +17.5 intensity of strongly support/strongly oppose), while background checks passed muster by an 88-11 figure overall. But the gun law as passed maintained its 58-40 support (with only a slightly lower +16.7 intensity.) That, my friends, is a sadly bamboozled and gullible public.

Yet when it comes to the pocketbook, people get it. When asked whether a 10 cent per gallon gasoline tax was acceptable in January, just 26% favored in with 73% opposed. The intensity of opposition was just as stiff, with a factor of (-50.8) strong approve/strong disapprove.

So now that the reality of a 21 cent per gallon increase spread out over three years has smacked Free Staters in the pocketbook, they hate it even more. 22 percent approve of the tax hike, while 76 percent oppose it. Intensity remains as strong, at a factor of (-50.7). Most telling to me is that the Democrats don’t tout it as a success.

Knowing that, where do we go from here? It appears to me that the emotional appeals of Democrats have worked on the above non-fiscal issues because those polled are probably not affected – the chances are small that someone knows a person who’s been heinously murdered by someone who would receive the death penalty, and for those who do too many are blaming the tool used for the victim’s demise.

I can sit and stare at a gun with a 30-round magazine all day, but as long as I don’t pick up the weapon and make the physical motion to fire it, the gun is inert and harmless. Thousands of Marylanders have access to a gun, most have never fired it outside the confines of a closed gun range. Those who use the tool of a handgun otherwise are more often than not breaking enough laws already that the so-called Firearm Safety Act of 2013 won’t prevent them from carrying out their mayhem. However, another person with a weapon just might.

Someone out there probably collects the rare news stories of crimes prevented by the presence of a gun, but the narrative of “if it bleeds, it leads” plays into the hands of those who would usurp our Second Amendment rights. Yet if the hapless victim of random violence had his or her own weapon, things may have played out differently. Instead, the state is placing a burden on those who simply wish to defend themselves, and I thought government was supposed to be about empowerment. That’s what liberals tell me, anyway.

Liberals like Anthony Brown, Doug Gansler, and Heather Mizeur.

And by the way, where is the Republican poll? I think the Gonzales pollsters have fallen into the same “one-party state” trap Doug Gansler did. I’d like to see something more scientific than a blog poll on that race.

**********

Since I didn’t get a GO Friday feature this week, I added my own two cents as I told you I would. This place doesn’t go dark.

But if you want to be considered for GO Friday next week, just let me know.

One extra seat

I received an amusing pictorial e-mail today from the Democratic National Committee. I guess when you’re targeting low-information voters you need plenty of pictures.

But it shows just what’s at stake in 2014.

Never mind that the poll the Democrats cite (from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling) pits these Republicans against a “generic” Democrat – once an actual candidate is selected the numbers generally go down. It’s also a simple registered voter poll, and may not accurately reflect the electorate in the region. (No one’s ever oversampled Democrats to get a desired result before. </sarc>)

The PPP survey is sort of like the generic ballot polling an outfit like Rasmussen does, where they pit the broad base of Republicans vs. the broad base of Democrats. At this time the numbers are even, which suggests not much will change. (This is particularly surprising given the negative coverage House Republicans have endured throughout the Obama temper tantrum shutdown slowdown.) Bear in mind as well the PPP survey was conducted in the first few days of the Obama/Reid shutdown, before many major developments in the story.

So it’s important to cede no ground to the Democrats. And history isn’t on their side – with the exception of 1998, where Democrats picked up 5 seats, the opposition party to the President has added seats in Congress in every second-term midterm election since 1952. The range was from 5 seats in 1986 (Reagan) to 49 seats in 1958 (Eisenhower) and 1974, the post-Watergate Ford election. 1966 was another watershed year, with incumbent Democrats under Lyndon Johnson losing 47 seats. So Barack Obama would have to buck a historical trend to gain seats, let alone recapture the majority.

Nor has it been considered that the Republicans might pick up some vulnerable Democrat seats as well. Certainly the opponents of Sixth District Congressman John Delaney aren’t taking this lying down. They’re either playing up the trustworthiness angle, like Dan Bongino does in this video:

(By the way, if you look closely you’ll see my cohort Jackie Wellfonder in the video in a couple spots.)

Or they’re hammering the incumbent for turning his back on veterans, like Marine David Vogt:

A conversation about the Affordable Care Act and the harmful effects it is having on the American people is one we need to have. But we can’t have that conversation while our leaders are engaged in a partisan, political playground feud. Each side is guilty, and neither side is leading. Leadership means getting in the conference room and hammering out a solution, not holding a press conference just to call the opposition a new name and to repeat the same talking points that have obviously gotten us nowhere.

Our leaders have forgotten who they are in Washington to represent. Last week, I watched in amazement and disgust as my opponent voted to block funding for veterans’ benefits because he decided politics and standing by his party’s leadership came before service to his constituents and the American people. This is inexcusable.

Washington is supposed to work for us, not against us. These days it often seems that our elected officials do more to work against the American people than they do to help us. We don’t have time for political bickering. We have more pressing issues than each side’s attempt to save face. We need leadership, but it doesn’t appear we are going to get it anytime soon.

Obviously we won’t get new leadership until after the 2014 elections. And while I wouldn’t mind replacing John Boehner as Speaker, I’m hoping we do so with a much more conservative bulldog with TEA Party roots, not the shrill uber-liberal shill Nancy Pelosi. She had her time and set the stage for Barack Obama ruining the country, so let’s send a message to the Democrats and seize the narrative.

Odds and ends number 63

Maybe sometime I’ll do one of these without the obligatory reference to Dan Bongino (who, even in this post-election hangover is being promoted as a 2014 candidate for governor) but for now I’m content to continue trading on a popular name among conservatives in the state. Call this edition of my occasional digest of quick little takes on news items a version of Murphy’s law – not the familiar old adage, but applicable if you recall that 2010 gubernatorial candidate Brian Murphy was one of Dan’s initial backers. Maybe those of us who supported Murphy realized the guy knew what he was talking about?

Anyway, there was an item I wanted to quote stemming from the immediate reaction to the Great Wipeout of 2012, and it came from Delegate Justin Ready:

In particular, whether we won or lost, I have come to believe that our party and the conservative movement must make some adjustments in the way we communicate with certain voters - particularly those who do not follow the political give-and-take year-round. Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh each have around 20 million listeners, but there are more than twice that number of voters that don’t get their information from talk radio.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that voters did not know or care about some of the things we all cared about.

Let me be clear - we should absolutely not retreat from our principles of limited government, lower taxes, and respect for life.  But we do need to find a better way to present those values in a way that cuts through the soundbite wars and the demonizing we see from the national media.  Even FOX News is not much of an ally in getting a clear, coherent message across. It’s something that every Republican elected official and activist must take seriously. (All emphasis in original.)

Well, that’s the goal I’ve had for going on seven years. I’d love to have 20 million readers for my website, too. (Selling a million copies of my book would be a definite plus as well.)

Yet there’s an underlying theme to election coverage which otherwise has the depth of a cookie sheet: the horserace aspect of polling. Certainly I like to use polling as an occasional newsmaker, but we have made the names Rasmussen, Gallup, and Zogby almost as famous as Obama and Romney. But how many people could have stated where (or if) Romney stood for “limited government, lower taxes, and respect for life?” Perhaps aside from the Hannity/Limbaugh axis, most people saw Romney as the one taking away their government check, slashing taxes on just the wealthy, and perpetuating the so-called “war on women.” It was a perception popularized by the dominant media and not countered enough in a world where neighbors don’t talk to neighbors anymore.

We’ll soon see what’s said in the state party echo chamber at the end of this month. But I’m curious to know if the cake will have the correct number, since Change Maryland has grown to 25,000 members. You may recall back in April they celebrated 12,000 with the infamous cake, so this time at Turf Valley they have twice as much to party about.

In the release celebrating the milestone, Change Maryland notes:

The only way to bring about real change in Maryland is to build a coalition of Republicans, Independents, and fiscally conservative and moderate Democrats. That is exactly what Change Maryland has been doing so effectively. It unites people of all parties to work together to bring reform, fiscal responsibility and common sense to Annapolis.

The group now has more than twice as many Facebook followers than the Maryland Democratic and Republican parties combined and more than all the potential statewide candidates added together.

I haven’t asked Larry Hogan this question, but since I know many among his group are fans it’s worth pondering why Change Maryland didn’t take a leadership role in the state’s Congressional races? While the results don’t initially appear to be all that close, would their involvement have moved the needle even a little bit?

In 2010, a simple averaging of the eight Congressional candidates’ share of the vote gives a figure of 35.46%. This time around, we declined to 33.35%. Granted, thanks to redistricting and the turnout of a presidential election vs. a gubernatorial election this is something of an apples vs. oranges comparison but the trend is in the wrong direction. It’s worth noting that the GOP share went up in four districts: the First, where the largest percentage of the state’s Republicans were packed, the Fourth and Seventh, which are majority-minority districts in which Democrats could afford to dilute their vote somewhat, and the Eighth, which along with the First gained a lot of former Sixth District voters which were drawn out of that formerly Republican district. Yet there still wasn’t enough there to unseat the Democratic incumbent.

If Change Maryland is the home of this grand coalition, one would think taking a little more of a leadership role would start tipping some of these districts. Obviously we’ll have the same issue in 2014, with the added complication of a gerrymandered state map as well.

Yet while the conservative cause is licking its wounds, there is a parting on the left as well. Maryland Juice blogger David Moon sent out an e-mail on behalf of the Demand Progress group demanding President Obama not replace Hillary Clinton at the State Department with former Congressman Howard Berman. Why?

…Internet freedom activist group Demand Progress is rallying its members to oppose Berman’s potential appointment: Berman was a leading supporter and architect of the infamous Stop Online Piracy Act — which was decried and defeated because of its Internet censorship implications — and would have great influence over global Internet policy if named Secretary of State.

(snip)

According to Demand Progress executive director David Segal, “It’s outrageous that Berman’s name is even being floated for Secretary of State, where he’d play a key role in developing global Internet policy.  He’s made a career of shilling for Hollywood, and Hollywood’s been leading the charge for Internet censorship here at home and abroad — backing SOPA, compelling the government to block access to scores of sites, and even having website owners extradited for posting links to Hollywood movies.  It’s clear that other Internet freedom groups and tens of thousands of Internet users would mobilize to oppose his appointment.”

Of course, this group is looking at the problem as one of not being able to see the latest Hollywood movie for free – ironic when Hollywood supplied millions for the Obama campaign – but my perspective is one of maintaining Internet freedom and access for all usages and viewpoints, even ones which aren’t politically correct. However, Demand Progress stops with the civil libertarian side of the equation and doesn’t stop to consider the equally chilling effect internet taxation would have on the World Wide Web. We all know it’s a cash cow that progressives just haven’t quite figured out how to milk for their purposes yet – but that’s not going to stop them from trying.

Speaking of cash cows, now that Obama’s re-elected we’re going to hear more and more about the adoption of a carbon tax. The Competitive Enterprise Institute is suing under the Freedom of Information Act to have over 7,000 e-mails released regarding behind-the-scenes lobbying efforts to make a carbon tax palatable to conservative opposition.

While there’s some aspect of a fishing expedition here, the time it would take to search the e-mail database for the word “carbon” and place the files on disk is rather negligible. But the impact of knowing how the current and future regime is attempting to place their thumb on the scale is significant. The only carbon tax I would support is when the FairTax is paid as part of a purchase of carbon or carbon-based products, and only after the income tax is repealed.

The group also put out a five-minute treatise on economics:

The short film is based on a 1958 essay by Leonard Reed and outlines the complexities of creating a simple product. Imagine this process multiplied to create complex machinery like your car or this laptop I write on, replicated countless times a day. Certainly not all of us manufacture things, but a pencil is also a metaphor for and tool of creativity. Now I create on a laptop, but all that represents is a pencil and eraser in a more technologically advanced form. Imagine if this process came to a halt – would we stop advancing as a global society as well? Just like our certain extinction if the sun ever ceased shining, I suspect our progress would terminate as well.

I think I’ve created enough to bring this treatise to an end, so I’m going to focus my talents on another job and place a wrap on this one. Hope you enjoyed reading.

Poll: DREAM Act, gay marriage too close to call

Matthew Newman at Old Line Elephant has posted the results of a Baltimore Sun/Opinion Works poll which showed three of the four main ballot questions in Maryland within the margin of error. According to Newman, Question 4 (in-state tuition for illegal aliens) is leading 47% for and 45% against, Question 5 (redistricting) has 36% for and 33% against, Question 6 (gay marriage) is 46% for and 47% against, and Question 7 is failing by a 39-54 margin. So it’s all going to depend on turnout.

Newman also notes that the three previously polled questions (4, 5, and 7) have all trended in the right direction, especially Question 6. It was up 10 points a month ago but now trails.

But the accompanying Sun story shows the amount of misinformation still out there. For example, one Question 6 supporter said “the key to her decision to vote yes on Question 6 is ‘the fact that religious personnel are not required to marry people if it is against their beliefs.’” That’s not true, as Section 3 (a) of the law states:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a religious organization, association, or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious organization, association, or society, may not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges to an individual if the request for the services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges is related to:

(1) the solemnization of a marriage or celebration of a marriage that is in violation of the entity’s religious beliefs; or

(2) the promotion of marriage through any social or religious programs or services, in violation of the entity’s religious beliefs, unless State or federal funds are received for that specific program or service. (Emphasis mine.)

So regardless of their feelings, the moment a church or religious organization takes a dime of government money they are placed into a position similar to those of religious organizations who don’t want to pay for coverage of birth control.

The Sun also finds a voter misinformed on Question 4:

“…in recent weeks she has moved from undecided to supporting the measure. What she’s learned about the eligibility requirements for in-state tuition has convinced her the program would not be a giveaway to immigrants.

‘It seems like they have to jump through a number of hoops. I’m beginning to lean toward it,’ she said. ‘You have to prove you’ve been contributing toward the system and to me that’s important.‘ (Emphasis mine.)

In truth, the student or family only has to file a return – for all we know, they could squeeze thousands more dollars out of the system by getting money back. So that’s two misinformed voters who potentially are voting the wrong way.

Yet the trends are encouraging, because not only do the voters have the chance to kill off several bad laws but also send a message to the General Assembly that they’ve gone too far in changing the state of Maryland.

Poll results disappointing to MD conservatives

The most recent Maryland Poll by Gonzales Research came out on Wednesday, and the results can only be described as disheartening to Maryland conservatives, who have their work cut out for them in the last month of the campaign. (Hat tip to Maryland Reporter for the link.)

First, the terrible topline numbers here in the state:

  • President: Barack Obama (D) 55, Mitt Romney (R) 36
  • U.S. Senate: Ben Cardin (D) 50, Dan Bongino (R) 22, Rob Sobhani (I) 21
  • Question 4 (in-state tuition for illegal aliens): For 58, Against 34
  • Question 6 (legalizing gay marriage): For 51, Against 43
  • Question 7 (expanding gambling): For 45, Against 46
  • President Obama has a 54% favorable rating, with 32% unfavorable
  • Vice-President Joe Biden has a 47% favorable rating, with 34% unfavorable
  • Mitt Romney has a 35% favorable rating, with 50% unfavorable
  • Paul Ryan has a 36% favorable rating, with 38% unfavorable

Gonzales did not poll on Question 5 (redistricting) or any of the Congressional races; in the latter case it’s likely because the sample sizes would be too small for reliable results. 813 self-proclaimed likely voters made up this sample.

One thing I have always liked about the Gonzales surveys is their willingness to provide the actual numbers. Instead of massaging the results to a certain turnout model, the Maryland Poll is set up to reflect the electorate based on party registration – so 56% of the respondents were Democrats, 30% Republicans, and the remainder unaffiliated. This closely matches the state’s current voter registration totals.

Because of that, some trends can be determined. For example, as a percentage fewer Democrats are behind Barack Obama (81%) than Republicans backing Romney (86%). This is because there’s always been a percentage of Democrats in Maryland who are simply registered as Democrats but often vote for Republicans. It’s President Obama’s 88% approval rating among black voters (which matches their lockstep 88% support) that saves his bacon in Maryland.

On the other hand, though, Democrats strongly back political lifer Ben Cardin (74%) while Republicans are just 60% behind Dan Bongino, their U.S. Senate nominee. The presence of onetime Republican-turned-independent Rob Sobhani is all but destroying GOP chances of posting an upset in the race, since Cardin is only at 50 percent. This is because Sobhani is taking more votes away from Bongino (22% of Republicans) than Cardin (16% of Democrats.) More troublesome is that these numbers are undermining Bongino’s stated intention of making inroads into the minority community, because just 8% of black voters support him but 15% back Sobhani, who was born in America but is of Iranian origin.

Meanwhile, the political correctness bug seems to be biting some of the squishier members of the GOP. While the state party has come out against these issues in a broad manner by supporting the idea of “repealing O’Malley’s laws” the Maryland Poll finds 29% of Republicans are for in-state tuition for illegal aliens, 17% support gay marriage, and 35% are in favor of expanding gambling. Could this be the Bradley effect manifested in a different manner? There’s no way to tell.

Overall these numbers are quite disappointing, but the silver lining which exists in them is now we know where to focus our efforts. For one thing, we are close enough on some races that enhancing GOP turnout could turn the election, particularly on Questions 6 and 7.

It’s also important to remember that a number of Congressional races could hinge on turnout as well. Simply based on voter registration numbers it’s clear that Eric Knowles, Faith Loudon, and Frank Mirabile have the steepest uphill battles but there’s more possibility of an upset from Tony O’Donnell, Nancy Jacobs, or Ken Timmerman. Even Roscoe Bartlett could fall into the “upset” category based on the gerrymandering Democrats did to make his seat endangered for Republicans.

There is one other observation regarding the races I need to make. Given the 19-point advantage Barack Obama enjoys here in the formerly Free State, it’s clear he probably won’t be spending any money in the local Baltimore television market. (Washington, D.C. is a different story because Virginia is in play.) Yet that commercial time is being vacuumed up by the millions of dollars both sides are spending on debating Question 7.

Because of that simple fact, it will be harder for those advocating other ballot issues and downticket candidates to afford television time, and that works against both sides equally. This makes the retail and social media campaigns that much more important because one easy outlet is no longer as readily available.

You may ask why I’m so strident on some of these issues. In my case, there’s a lot of areas where they crossed my line in the sand a long time ago and I’m simply fighting a sort of guerrilla war trying to beat things back where I can. But like Benjamin Netanyahu, we need to pull out our red Sharpie and draw our own line this time around because once that’s passed there is no putting the genie back in the bottle.

Once we allow illegal immigrants in-state tuition, the next thing they’ll want is full amnesty and voting rights – never mind they have broken numerous laws by crossing the border (or overstaying their visa) while thousands who try to do things the correct way are denied or face long delays in receiving what’s due for them. Crime is not supposed to pay.

Once we tell Democrats it’s okay to ignore geography and cynically make up Congressional districts which place people with little in common together for base political interests, there’s no telling what other steps they’ll take to dictate what they determine is fair representation. Obviously political affiliation is a fickle standard, but when only 56% of voters are registered Democrat should they have 88% of the Congressional representation? Obviously it could work out that way even if the state was scrupulously and evenly divided based simply on existing geographic lines, equalizing population, and contiguity, but I suspect it would not.

Once we allow gay marriage to pass, then the question becomes what will be legitimized next: plural marriage, marriage between adults and children, or some other bastardization of the concept? Where does the line get drawn? Despite common misguidance, marriage is NOT a right and despite the best efforts of the gay lobby to promote the idea this quest shouldn’t be equated with the civil rights movement of a half-century ago. As this group points out, there are no “gay only” drinking fountains.

Certainly people of any gender can be in a loving relationship with one of their own gender, but as far as the legal concepts of marriage our state already covers it. What was wrong with civil unions? I could live with that as a compromise which preserves, as much as possible in this day and age, the sanctity of marriage.

I’ve seen elections where people down double-digits in polling have come back to win in the last week, and a month is an eternity in political circles. Just a month ago Wendy Rosen was a game but underfunded challenger to Andy Harris until the startling allegation she voted twice in two consecutive elections, and now Democrats are reduced to pinning their hopes on a write-in candidacy. So anything is possible, good or bad.

But polls make news, and this poll certainly garnered a lot of attention across the state. The question is whether we can make it a “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment.

Odds and ends number 59

You know them, you love them…bloggy bits of goodness I expound upon which run from a sentence to a few paragraphs. Here’s my latest batch from a chock-full mailbox all but neglected over the weekend.

Actually, the first item doesn’t come from my mailbox but was shared with me on my Facebook page by Jim Rutledge, who urged me to read and share this piece by Diana West about how we’ll never win if we kowtow to Islamic radicals.

West writes about the saga of Marine Lance Cpl. Greg Buckley, Jr., who was killed in a “green-on-blue” attack last month. Chillingly, Buckley predicted, “one day they are going turn around and turn those weapons on us.” And so they did.

Of course, that leads to the obvious question of why we remain in Afghanistan, which has no clear-cut answer. At this point, it truly makes no difference to the most radical Islamist whether we stay or go as we’re the Great Satan just the same. Right offhand, I have no idea what the body count is on their side, but I’m sure it could be a lot more if we didn’t pull our punches. Once we bombed Tora Bora back to the Stone Age to get Osama bin Laden, but it was a more precise Seal Team Six which sent bin Laden to those 72 virgins, with Obama trying to heist the credit. Certainly there are those Afghans who love the accolades they receive from their comrades when an American is cut down as well.

All in all, the Patton rule still applies: “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.” Just substitute “religion” for “country” on their part.

Another old saw from the Left is that not throwing money at education produces inferior results. But that theory is debunked by a study recently released by State Budget Solutions. If the liberals’  theory was correct, then states which spent the most per pupil would have the best results – but the numbers suggest otherwise. In announcing the results, SBS noted:

From 2009 to 2011 the national average for state educational spending as a percentage of total spending dropped from 30 percent in 2009 to 29.3 percent in 2011. The top state spenders across all three years were Texas, Vermont and Arkansas, all spending at least 4 percent more than the national average. Michigan made the top five in 2010 and 2011. Virginia earned the #4 and #5 position in 2009 and 2011, respectively.

The states that spent the least as a percentage of total spending during 2009-2011 were Alaska, which came in last all three years, Hawaii and Tennessee. New York and Massachusetts also made the bottom five in 2010 and 2011.

For states that spent the most, only Vermont saw significant results from 2009 to 2011.  In fact, four out of the five states spending the most on education failed to produce correspondingly high graduation rates or ACT scores. Arkansas remained in the top five states in spending for all three years, yet Arkansas’ average ACT scores consistently fell below the national average, and continue to decline annually. In 2010 and 2011, Texas ranked first in the nation in spending, 36.9 percent each year, but fell below the national average in graduation and ACT scores.

One can have whatever educational Taj Mahal the taxpayers willingly – or begrudgingly – pay for, and teachers who receive the highest pay around, but if they can’t teach then all the money is essentially wasted. Otherwise, why would bright homeschooled children be the academic leaders of this country?

At this time in the election cycle, endorsements are always news. Recently the Conservative Victory PAC added two new Republican hopefuls to a growing stable of CVPAC-backed candidates as Second District Congressional hopeful Nancy Jacobs and Third District candidate Eric Knowles got the CVPAC blessing.

On Jacobs the group wrote:

CVPAC supports Ms. Jacobs’s education reform agenda, including expansion of Charter Schools in failing school districts, means-tested tax credits for parents with children in religious schools and other private schools, and tax credits for Maryland businesses that invest in schools or hire graduates from local schools.

CVPAC Treasurer Ruth Melson had this to say about Knowles:

Let me tell you why Eric Knowles must be your next United States Congressman from Maryland District 3.  Eric knows about defending the United States Constitution against foreign enemies and he will defend it at home the same way; he is a US Air Force veteran.   He knows about our terrible economic plight; he works as a bartender talking to regular folks every day.  In the United States Congress, he will always represent the interest of Marylanders like you and me.  He is not an ivory-tower politician building castles in the air; he is pragmatic.  Government, he says, must stay within its constitutionally enumerated powers; government must be rolled back to what we can afford.

Along with U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino, the Conservative Victory PAC has endorsed four of Maryland’s six Republican Congressional challengers: Ken Timmerman, Faith Loudon, Jacobs, and Knowles. I suppose they have a few weeks to add Fifth District challenger Tony O’Donnell and Seventh District aspirant Frank Mirabile to the list.

Bongino, meanwhile, keeps adding to his national profile by getting key endorsements of his own; most recently Lt. Col. Allen West added his vocal support:

The differences cannot be any clearer in the race for United States Senate. Ben Cardin has been an elected official for 45 years and you need to question ‘Is Maryland better off than it was in 1967?’ It is time the people need to elect someone who has some real experience, and that is why I am endorsing Dan Bongino for U.S. Senator for Maryland.

We need someone who has walked a police beat and not someone who all he knows how to do is walk into a chamber and vote aye and nay all day long!

West is a conservative darling who some believed would have been a great VP pick.

On the other hand, “establishment” Republicans may have been enamored with an endorsement closer to home – former Governor Bob Ehrlich:

Dan has the unmatched integrity and unique depth of experience necessary to defeat an entrenched incumbent like Senator Cardin. His background in law enforcement and federal investigations, combined with an entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen, afford not only a broad overview of the political arena but also personal expertise in job creation, fiscal responsibility, and community involvement.

We cannot continue down the same non-productive road we’ve traveled for the last 45 years. It’s time we elect someone new – someone who can relate to the needs of the average Maryland family. Dan’s message resonates strongly with both Democrats and Republicans alike, and he is the right person at the right time to represent Maryland and shake things up in Washington.

Gee, Bob, that sounds a little bit like your 2010 primary opponent I voted for. While it’s nice to have the endorsement, honestly I’m not sure the Ehrlich name carries the cache it formerly did among rank-and-file Republicans, let alone those who call the TEA Party home. They were more enthused by the Allen West statement, I’m sure.

Speaking of those who have spanked Ehrlich electorally, Martin O’Malley is once again getting beclowned by Larry Hogan and Change Maryland as they point out Maryland’s unemployment rate is rising as the national percentage drops:

Maryland’s unemployment rate inched up to 7.1%, marking months of consecutive upticks since January’s rate of 6.5%,  in the latest state employment picture released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The preliminary August numbers show a slight gain in employment due to July numbers that were revised downward by 1,600 jobs.  In August, Maryland payrolls increased by 1,400 over July.

The slight change in employment numbers, however, is not enough to lift Maryland out of the doldrums when it comes to competing with neighboring states.

“We are lagging in job growth in the region and are simply not competing with our neighbors,” said Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan. “This year’s performance on job growth is abysmal as it has been since 2007.”

On a percentage basis of jobs lost, Maryland’s decline of 1.4% since January of 2007 is the second-worst in the region after Delaware.

And Change Maryland had even more fun at O’Malley’s expense, reminding its audience that each and every Republican governor berated by DGA head O’Malley scored higher on job creation than he did:

In recent remarks in Iowa, O’Malley said, “We are the party that grows our economy; they are the party that wrecked our economy.’ This false statement is borne out today in the latest August employment numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that show Maryland’s loss of nearly 7,000 jobs this year is worse than Florida, Ohio, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Virginia, Texas, New Jersey and Maine. In some cases it is much worse.  For example, under Gov. John Kasich, Ohio has created 68,300 jobs this year; Florida Gov. Rick Scott, 50,500 jobs; and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, 26,200 jobs. So far this year under Gov. Rick Perry, the Lone Star state has created 140,000 more jobs than Maryland, which some have dubbed the “Fee State” as opposed to the official “Free State.”

“Martin O’Malley has no credibility whatsoever talking about jobs,” said Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan.  ”What he can talk about, but chooses not to, are the 24 taxes and fees he has raised since taking office which remove $2.4 billion annually from the pockets of struggling Marylanders.”

I know Jim Pettit doesn’t necessarily write these releases to be laugh-out-loud funny, but when you consider the material he has to work with, you have to laugh to avoid crying – particularly if you still live in Maryland. As I’ve put myself on the record saying, take away the nation’s capital and Maryland is Michigan without all the lakes – or the jobs. (By the way, even that state is creating jobs much faster than Maryland.)

A surefire way to curtail job creation, however, is to overregulate land use to a point where no growth is possible. Whether consciously or not, the effect of new state rules may be the eventual death knell to the Eastern Shore’s economy.

There is an upcoming “Growth Offset Policy Meeting” Thursday morning to discuss these proposals, dryly described as follows:

The meeting will include a presentation by staff from Maryland Department of the Environment about the draft Growth Offset policy and the proposed timeframe for acceptance and implementation of the policy. Following the presentation, the remainder of the meeting is dedicated for a question and answer period. Participants are invited to ask questions and express concerns to staff from Maryland Department of the Environment, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Planning.

The Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology is organizing this event and would like to thank the Town Creek Foundaiton (sic) for their generous support which allows the Center this opportunity.

You can register here; it’s no surprise that plenty of seats are still available. I’m sure the Radical Green in this area will take time off their public-sector, taxpayer-funded jobs to try and convince these people that every acre in Wicomico County not already developed needs to return to its pristine, pre-settlement state.

If we were to take a path, I say join the one being blazed by Cecil County and say “to hell with the maps.” If Rick Pollitt wants to do something useful for a change, this is something to consider when you think about how similar Cecil County is in population to Wicomico.

Finally, turning to the national race: there’s a constituency group out there which is always assumed to be a solidly Democratic bloc and that’s the Jewish vote. But according to this ad from the Republican Jewish Coalition, voters are turning away:

Perhaps borne out by this ad, a survey by the American Jewish Council of 254 registered Jewish voters in Florida showed only 69% would vote for Obama. It’s noteworthy the survey was conducted prior to the 9-11-12 Islamic attacks on our embassies in several Middle Eastern countries, most notably Libya. On the other hand, they didn’t ask about the respondents’ 2008 vote so in that respect the survey has limited value – we have no basis of comparison to truly determine a trend.

But another number from the AJC survey serves as a way to tie this post together: 62% of those Jewish voters surveyed either strongly or moderately support U.S. military action against Iran’s nuclear program. 74% of them would support Israel doing the same.

It all comes back to wars and rumors of wars, doesn’t it?

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