A recent poll by the Washington Post brought gasps of surprise from Republicans – even in a state where registered Republicans are outnumbered by better than 2-to-1 by their Democratic counterparts, the people of Maryland approve of Larry Hogan’s performance by a margin of 61% to 22% disapproval. Since a similar poll taken shortly after Hogan took office, he has gained 19 points in the approval department by pulling in a large percentage of those who previously had no opinion and even whittling the disapproves from 24% to 22%.
All those are encouraging signs, particularly as the Post points out Hogan is nine points up on Martin O’Malley at a similar juncture and back in the territory Bob Ehrlich enjoyed early on.
Of course, the Democrats retort that a portion of the goodwill is based on Hogan’s ongoing treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, with his last round wrapping up. Hogan’s newly bald head is regularly featured on social media as a constant reminder of his treatment, something which he’s parlayed into a lot of good press coverage.
Insofar as policy goes, though, Hogan has gone pretty much down the center of the road. The incoming governor whose initial act of significance was to pull unpopular phosphorus regulations from being published in the Maryland Register ended up compromising on less stringent measures in order to avoid a veto fight over a legislative version of the O’Malley regulations. Days later, his first budget made some unpopular “cuts” (read: more modest increases in spending than the opposition was conditioned to expect) but still was larger than the previous year’s.
On the transportation front, Hogan pulled the Red Line in Baltimore but decided to keep the Purple Line in the suburbs of Washington provided the local governments paid more for it. He used the money saved from the Red Line to fund needed highway projects and also figured out a way to reduce the tolls in Maryland. Unfortunately, we still have the higher gas taxes passed by Martin O’Malley to pay for the Purple Line and planned Red Line.
In a number of ways, Hogan has achieved his level of popularity to working around the edges. The makeup of the General Assembly is such that Hogan had a number of bills that passed where he allowed them to become law without his signature. It was probably a political calculation of the likelihood of whether his veto would hold and if the hill was vital enough to die on politically. Both sides seemed to be feeling each other out in a cautious session – save the doomed effort to roll back the “rain tax,” Hogan’s legislative agenda had a focus on economic development that was to some extent left over from the O’Malley administration’s half-hearted attempts to address the state’s awful business climate.
The question for Maryland Republicans going forward is just how much conservatism they want to push. Those in the party who disapprove of Hogan generally fall into either or both of the two categories of wanting fewer gun restrictions or better leadership on social issues – naturally, the Democrats tried to use both as wedge issues against Hogan and failed.
Maybe a better way to frame this is to question whether the Republican caucus in the General Assembly will create its own legislative agenda for next year or just ride along with Hogan’s. One thing I have noticed over the years is that there are several legislators who introduce bills in the General Assembly but we don’t seem to have a platform we follow – it’s like every man for himself.
Perhaps next session the GOP should pick out eight to ten important, conservative bills and work like hell to get them passed, bypassing the committee if necessary. (For example, had they done that on the original “rain tax” bill, they could have forced a floor vote on sustaining it, putting Democrats on the record as favoring it.) They can even be repeal bills of O’Malley legislation – after all, if Hogan is rolling back O’Malley’s toll hikes and Red Line boondoggle, we should hope he will ditch items like the “septic bill” and PlanMaryland.
If you have 61% of the public behind you, it’s time to grab a bully pulpit and make needed change.
For what is being described as “financial stakes (that) are small, (yielding) just $3 million to $4 million annually.” the Washington Post sure has its collective panties in a wad over the prospect Larry Hogan may veto the “travel tax.”
When I did my last look at the idea, I didn’t really know how much the difference was to the state. Now that I know it’s only a rounding error in a $40 billion budget. the prospect of Democrats (and, sadly, a handful of Republicans) trying to fill in this supposed budget hole looks to me like a “gotcha” moment set up by General Assembly Democrats who will turn around and bash Hogan for enacting the “travel tax” in four years – after all, if they can perpetrate the fiction that school funding was cut this year (never mind the increase of over $100 million) they can make up anything to tell unsuspecting voters that the sky is falling.
But it’s really funny to me that the Post considers this a “travel agent loophole” and “undeserved windfall” when it’s actually a legal transaction. Even the Post admits it:
Rather than collect sales taxes from the agencies based on the actual prices they charge customers for hotel rooms, most states have accepted a reduced payment based on bargain room prices the agencies manage to negotiate with hotels.
That’s as it should be, so it sounds to me like General Assembly Democrats have some sour grapes. The transaction in question is at a reduced rate – why should the state collect the sales tax on the full rack rate if the place of lodging offers the rooms first to a reseller at a lower price? There is no gun being placed at the proverbial head of the hotel or motel to sell the rooms to an online travel agency; they can go it alone and try to market themselves without a middleman. (Hence, loyalty programs and other perks provided by hotels who prefer to keep bookings in-house.)
But it’s obvious that many hotel chains prefer the assurance of knowing they would get something – a “something” that is about 60 to 70 percent of full rate – for a room which will be paid for many times over before the paint dries on the renovation or new construction based on future reservations already on the books. Chances are your room rate is really paying for the employees who check you in and take care of the rooms moreso than the bricks, mortar, and furnishings in the facility, and that factor can be adjusted easily by management. (To use a local and somewhat extreme example, just drive through Ocean City in January and note how many hotels and motels shut down completely for the winter. No one is there to pay for the bricks and mortar, so no employees save a caretaker and maintenance are needed.) So even getting a reduced rate from a travel agency which reserves the rooms just in case isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a cause for complaint by a state which hasn’t completely given up the attitude that “what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine, too.”
Conversely, to use another traveler analogy, you won’t hear the Post (or any of their liberal allies) tut-tutting if gasoline prices go up and the state collects more sales tax as a result – no one there would consider that an “undeserved windfall” for the state. I’ll explain.
Should the per-gallon tab for gasoline go up another 50 cents (as it has over the course of the last few months, from about $2 locally to north of $2.50) the state will make up the $4 million “lost” by vetoing the “travel tax” in no time. A 50-cent per gallon increase, as we have already had, nets yet an extra half-penny to the state per gallon come July as an additional 1% gasoline sales tax increase takes effect then. Just based on that 50-cent gas price increase alone coupled with the 1% increase (to 3%) – hence, the half-penny – and assuming the state consumes 7 million gallons per day (probably still in the ballpark despite these old statistics), they will make an “extra” $4 million from what they could have anticipated receiving when 2015 dawned in less than two weeks.
Yet the Post will not throw a pity party for motorists – I guarantee it. Ignore their whining and leave the hotel room rate system be.
I said the other day that I wanted to look more deeply at a poll done by the Washington Post last week, and my focus is on how the outstate areas that overwhelmingly supported Governor Larry Hogan compare with the rest of the state on these issues.
For example, the right direction/wrong track polling showed statewide respondents had a 48-40 opinion that the state was on the right path, but those who answered from outstate were the most pessimistic by a 36-55 margin. It was eight points down from any other group.
Yet those who voted for him from the hinterlands were still not sold on Hogan’s efforts. Their 43-24 approval of Hogan’s performance was almost identical to the 42-24 statewide numbers. On the other hand, they were slightly more confident in his ability to turn things around, believing he would by a 61-30 margin compared to the statewide average of 58-33.
Tellingly, the number of outstate repliers who believed the state should be governed more conservatively was several notches above the average, with 44% agreeing we need a more conservative direction as opposed to 36% overall. Only 22% favored more liberalism among outstaters compared to 28% as a whole.
And when the polling turned to the performance of General Assembly Democrats, the 49-43 favorable margin among all voters melted down to a 36-58 disapproval outside the I-95 corridor. The strong disapproval of 35% from those polled outstate was by far the highest. Outstate voters also differed from the norm as they believed the hot issue the General Assembly needs to work on was the state economy (21%) followed closely by public education and taxes at 20% each. Overall, Maryland picked public education at 26%, with taxes at 18% and the state economy at 16%.
We on the geographic fringes also didn’t fondly recall Martin O’Malley, giving him a 37-57 approval-disapproval number compared to 49-43 for the state at large.
There was also a tendency to see particular issues in a more conservative way, which is to be expected from the regions of the state which aren’t urban or suburban. In general, the Post lays out its geographic regions to specifically cover Prince George’s, Montgomery, Anne Arundel, and Howard counties, along with Baltimore City and its suburbs. The rest of us are lumped into the “rest of state” category, which covers a wide swath of the state from border to border in both directions.
One thing the Post did not poll on was the Phosphorous Management Tool, the enactment of which Hogan delayed within hours of taking office last month. Naturally, counties where this was sold as another tactic to clean up Chesapeake Bay would likely be against this change, which the rest of the state (particularly the Eastern Shore) may be solidly behind Hogan’s action.
If you ever wanted real proof that there is more than one Maryland, this poll is a pretty good indicator of the differences.
An initial survey from the Washington Post claims that Marylanders are willing to give Larry Hogan a chance. However, his job approval ratings wouldn’t be called stellar as Hogan rests at 42% in the poll - granted, he only has 24% disapproval so the ratio is quite good. If everyone were pressed to give an opinion, chances are Hogan would be in the low 60s for approval and that’s very positive.
One place in which the narrative needs to be shored up, though, is the perception that Maryland is cutting education spending. It may not be the increase those in the field desire to have, but in FY2016 Maryland will spend more on education than it did in FY2015. Numbers don’t lie, but people seem to be operating under the mistaken belief that cuts in education spending were actual reductions – in many cases it’s simply not true. “Cuts to education” is an easy message for Democrats to send, though. (Honestly, I’m not surprised the liberals in Maryland haven’t dubbed Hogan’s idea to cut income taxes for retired first responders as “tax cuts for the rich” given their generous pensions.)
I haven’t taken the time to dig into the Post poll but there are some factors I want to look for. One example is the geographic breakdown on results, since we also have the election results to look back at. One would suspect places which voted heavily for Hogan are willing to give a little more slack.
A question I don’t think was asked (but should have been in the wake of the Democrats’ reaction to Hogan’s State of the State address) would be the approval rating of the General Assembly. Mysteriously, we don’t hear a lot of talk about the need for bipartisanship and cooperation with the state’s chief executive right now – not that we heard much of it with Martin O’Malley, but the reason there was the lack of need for it as Democrats could easily ramrod through all of MOM’s agenda without a single Republican vote.
So let me dig into this poll and see what I find. It’s been a busy week for me and there’s not much sign of a letup. Good thing I added a second contributor.
On Saturday I pointed out the Gonzales Poll Larry Hogan has cited as proof he’s within striking distance in the governor’s race. The news wasn’t quite as good in a more recent Washington Post poll, but it wasn’t as bad as previous polls in that newspaper.
But again it’s a question of turnout, and the Post simply replicated the pattern of registered voters in the state. If Republicans come out to a greater extent than Democrats – many of whom aren’t excited about Brown – that cuts into the Brown lead. Considering the Post poll is of randomly selected adults, I suspect the turnout model they’re using favors Brown in the poll.
So instead of the 15 to 18 points Brown has led by in previous polls, this poll by itself drove the RCP average down from 15 to 12 points.
But the breakdown on issues is interesting. Remember, this is a sample that is probably slightly oversampling Democrats, but the key issue is taxes. Yet on a number of other issues the only ones which reflect closely the partisan breakdown are social issues and public education. It’s hard to believe that fully half prefer Brown on the issue of health care considering how he botched the state’s website, but others like gun laws, job creation, and illegal immigration lean Hogan’s way in comparison to the partisan breakdown of the sample.
Given the crosstabs, though, the best way for Hogan to cut into Brown’s lead is to chip away at the Democrats on the issues that he’s closest to moving ahead on. It’s absolutely essential for Larry to somehow get to about 25 percent of Democrats going his way, with this polling suggesting he’s at about 14 percent. If Democrats get the 62% turnout this poll suggests (with Republicans at 65% and unaffiliated at 48%) that’s the only way he can win.
Somehow the case has to be made to the low-information crowd that a third term of Martin O’Malley is too much for the state to bear. Those of us who have a lick of common sense already know this, but too many people must actually think a poor economy is a good thing.
Depending on how you slice the data, the June 24 primary would be a Larry Hogan victory, with the only question being the margin.
The two major Maryland media outlets polled the race earlier this month, and a summary of the results had the same approximate order of Larry Hogan, David Craig, Charles Lollar, and Ron George. But it’s worth also pointing out that the sample size between polls conducted by the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun varied widely.
The Post‘s polling data split into two parts: registered voters and likely voters. And while Hogan had a statistically sizable lead among likely voters, it practically melted away among simply registered voters. Likely voters (with a previous Post poll in February as comparison):
- Larry Hogan – 35% (up from 22%)
- David Craig – 19% (up from 13%)
- Charles Lollar – 13% (up from 6%)
- Ron George – 5% (stayed in place)
Among them, Larry Hogan finally climbed ahead of Mr. Undecided, who’s now at 20%. Out of simply registered voters, though:
- Larry Hogan – 23% (up from 17%)
- David Craig – 18% (up from 13%)
- Charles Lollar – 12% (up from 10%)
- Ron George – 8% (up from 4%)
Mr. Undecided still leads there with 25%.
What this tells me is that, for anyone but Larry Hogan to win, the campaigns need to push their GOTV effort among supporters. The Post’s sample sizes are exceedingly small – 228 registered Republicans and just 110 likely ones – leading to very high margins of error of 7.5 and 11 points, respectively. And perhaps it’s not coincidental that both Post-endorsed candidates are leading their respective races.
You may also recall that awhile back Larry Hogan touted a poll where he trailed Anthony Brown by single-digits. Unfortunately, the Post did a projected Hogan vs. Brown matchup and it came out 51-33 Brown. It’s a counter-intuitive result when you look deeper into the poll’s questions to find that Democrats want the next governor to lead the state in a different direction from Martin O’Malley by a 58-34 margin. Yet they have given Anthony Brown a significant primary lead and would presumably back him in the general election.
A few days earlier, the Baltimore Sun came out with their poll, which also showed Larry Hogan out in front. They did a similar poll in February as well.
- Larry Hogan – 27% (up from 13%)
- David Craig – 12% (up from 7%)
- Charles Lollar – 12% (up from 5%)
- Ron George – 6% (stayed in place)
Again, Mr. Undecided was the clear winner with 37%, and in the Sun‘s case both polls are of likely voters with a much more significant sample size of about 500 voters – it makes the margin of error 4.4%. Except for Ron George, who basically had to disappear from the campaign trail while the General Assembly was in session, every one of the contenders essentially doubled their support in three-plus months.
If you take the most recent polls and combine them using the sample sizes, which gives higher weight to the larger Sun poll, you come up with these figures, which I also compare to a post I did in February:
- Larry Hogan – 26.9% (14.4%)
- David Craig – 14.5% (9.3%) (-12.4)
- Charles Lollar – 12.0% (7.5%) (-14.9)
- Ron George – 6.3% (5.1%) (-20.3)
If the undecideds fall along that line, the results would be:
- Larry Hogan – 45.1%
- David Craig – 24.3%
- Charles Lollar – 20.1%
- Ron George – 10.6%
I would say there’s a 50-50 chance that Hogan makes it to 50%, given that some who were thinking of voting for one of the bottom-tier candidates (particularly George) may decide to go with the guy leading the most-touted polls. Because Hogan’s already above the 40% mark I think that’s now a prospect, which may help the MDGOP rally behind Hogan as a nominee. Obviously that support wouldn’t be universal, but getting over 50% would be better than just a plurality for unity’s sake.
So it’s apparent that the message of “change,” no matter how vague and shallow – combined with a lot of money out of the candidate’s pocket and a dose of public financing – seems to appeal with Maryland Republicans who, at this juncture, believe Hogan is the best candidate. In order for second-place contender (based on poll average) David Craig to win, supporters of the Charles Lollar and Ron George campaigns would have to abandon that choice to throw their support behind Craig, and that’s a dubious prospect.
The burr underneath Martin O’Malley’s saddle must have stuck when the horses were changed because now Larry Hogan and Change Maryland is becoming an irritant to Anthony Brown. In the wake of Brown dodging and ducking the questions of interviewer Jayne Miller of WBAL-TV, Hogan added the following response under the Change Maryland banner:
The O’Malley-Brown Administration has been one of the biggest cheerleaders for the ACA and Lt. Governor Brown is responsible for implementing Maryland’s version of the law. Last night, Anthony Brown admitted that he knew many Marylanders could not keep their insurance despite promises to the contrary. By remaining silent, he intentionally misled thousands of mothers, fathers, and children who depend on health care insurance for the treatment they need.
As Lieutenant Governor, Anthony Brown has an obligation to serve the best interests of all Marylanders, which means being straightforward about the implementation of this new law. Despite all the promises from the O’Malley-Brown Administration that the state was ready for this roll out, the exchange has been plagued with one problem after another.
Marylanders deserve to know whether or not people are enrolling in the Health Benefit Exchange because ultimately, the success or failure of the program will have a direct impact on their own health insurance. Brown’s failures have given us zero confidence that the state even knows how many people have enrolled.
It’s time for Mr. Brown to come clean with Marylanders, take responsibility for the problems of the state exchange, and personally apologize for misleading the public. Regardless of how anyone feels about the new law, Anthony Brown obviously put partisan politics ahead of the people he was elected to represent. This falls 100% in his lap.
Change Maryland also pointed out a discrepancy in enrollment figures between state and federal reports, numbers which suggest the state may have exaggerated enrollment figures nearly fourfold; federal numbers show Maryland enrolled 1,284 in the first month Obamacare was active while the state claims 4,651. Meanwhile, 73,000 Marylanders were sent cancellation notices, including Sixth District Congressional candidate Dan Bongino, who posted his online. I went to public school, but even I can see that math makes the point that the Affordable Care Act is neither going to be affordable nor caring.
If you look at this through a political lens, however, two things jump out at you.
One is the presumption that Brown will be the Democratic nominee at this early stage, given his commanding poll edge. Granted, Anthony Brown is the one who is touting his healthcare record - particularly the more and more laughable claim that “independent studies show will reduce the number of uninsured in Maryland by 50%” – and running as a continuation of the “success” of the last seven long years. (Brown’s doublespeak extends to other areas of his healthcare record; according to him Maryland expanded Medicaid by “working with stakeholders and placing higher costs on tobacco products.” In English, this was the dollar-a-pack cigarette tax hike, which served as among the most regressive of O’Malley/Brown’s many tax hikes.)
Secondly, it’s a reiteration of a point which those on our side frequently make: have we seen this discrepancy covered in the Baltimore Sun or Washington Post? Looking at the Sun‘s main page today, we find instead the headline touting a 36% hike in enrollments – not a word about the Jayne Miller interview. The Post ignores the story altogether, but joyfully kicks the outgoing McDonnell administration in Virginia with a report on $575,000 in legal bills paid by the taxpayer, in a case where the billing is allowed by law. (Just wait until Terry McAuliffe takes office; he’ll make that $575,000 seem like pocket change.)
On the other hand, this allegation has received scant coverage beyond the original WBAL segment: a reprint of the press release here, a mention of the Jayne Miller interview as part of Maryland Reporter‘s state roundup yesterday, and now my piece. (Needless to say it was also linked on ChangeMaryland’s Facebook page with its 64,000 followers.) Even if this gets picked up by other local bloggers, talk radio, and such, it’s going to be an uphill fight to get the word out on anything like this.
Working twice as hard to accomplish half as much seems to be the norm for us when it comes to media. But I think we’re improving, and can do even better once we convince the campaigns to stay on message.
This came in my e-mail the other day and I found it both amusing and enlightening.
My name is (redacted) and I am a marketing associate at (a marketing firm). Congrats on being named one of The Fix’s top state political blogs!
We are offering our smart polling widget for your website that comes with free basic analytics. Every week we will send you a report of topline and summary data to create more detailed audience profiles and build a stronger online community.
I was wondering if you had time to talk next Tuesday? I would love to run through our product and how it would be tailored for you.
As a matter of fact, I really don’t have time to talk next Tuesday because I’m hustling to make a living. Blogging is great practice for my second career but I have to pursue career number three because it actually pays me. (Career number one went by the wayside thanks to the demise of the local building industry.)
And you can tell I don’t pay attention to the Washington Post, because I had no idea I was on that list. But I am since I was placed on their “extended edition” in March – thanks to whoever nominated me, it’s an honor! My erstwhile associates at Red Maryland have bragged on this for a couple years, so now I can too.
Meanwhile, there’s the aspect of pop-up polls. I don’t know about you, but I ignore them and don’t really want them cluttering up my site. Not sure how annoying pop-ups will build my audience; I choose to do that with good content.
I also get these appeals on a semi-regular basis; this one came last week:
I am looking to do one-way link building with desgin (sic) and technology sites. We thought you might be interested in this since your site (monoblogue.us) is in this category.
One way links are like this: SITE A -> monoblogue.us -> SITE B
I will link to monoblogue.us from my PR6 SITE A and you link to my SITE B from monoblogue.us in return. As your monoblogue.us is PR4, a link from a PR6 site will improve your pagerank as well as search engine ranking a lot. And both of our sites are in similar category, this brings extra value to both of our audience.
I had some great partners in United States|us and I hope you could be part of this program.
If you are interested or have any questions, please reply to this message for details.
Here is your reply, for the whole world to see.
I do links for one of four reasons: they are paying advertisers like the ones in my far-right sidebar, worthwhile causes like Troopathon, or they are in a story to either advance the narrative by bringing the source of the information to light or by adding context. I link to my own work a lot of the time, but will often link to other blogs or news sources when I use their information to make my arguments. Lastly, I keep a broad list of sites I link to as a show of support for their journalism, something I have done pretty much since day one.
I have been told by those who know a little something about SEO that I am a “natural” PR4; in other words, I didn’t use SEO tricks to build up my rank but its relevance has come over time as people read it and link to my site as a source of information. Just picking random national links off my site, I found American Thinker is a PR5, Legal Insurrection is a PR6, Right Turn (part of the Washington Post) is a PR7, and Twitchy is a PR7. As for state and local peers – such as the ones listed along with me on the WaPo list – Maryland Juice is a PR5, Maryland Reporter is a PR5, and Center Maryland is a PR4. In one year, my cohort Jackie Wellfonder has built up her Raging Against the Rhetoric site to a PR4 as well. (All of these are also linked in my sidebar.)
So without really trying, each of those sources got to their ranking naturally, not by artificially linking back and forth to sites specifically created just to pump up SEO status in a never-ending cycle of linkage, but not adding to the information available to readers.
At some point, the wheat becomes separated from the chaff. I know Google occasionally changes its algorithm in an attempt to clean out these junk SEO sites and attempt to put legitimate sites at the top of the search engines. But I don’t worry about that, since my audience has generally been built up by word of mouth and social media. The extent of my advertising is business cards I occasionally print at home.
Now if you want to consider this a “bleg,” well, I’m always looking for new advertisers (with recently trimmed rates) and don’t mind checks in the mail or deposits to my PayPal account. But I really wanted to get that off my chest because this isn’t as easy as it looks and there are always people out there who want to take advantage of me and try to screw up my formula for success.
I’ve earned everything I’ve achieved here, and the plan is to keep earning it as long as I feasibly can.
The headline screamed “Washington Post poll finds support for stricter gun laws in Maryland.” And if you glanced at a poll put out last week by the venerable leftist paper, you might be led to believe our state is home to a bunch of idiots. Well, it is, but somehow it seems the Post found several hundred who answered the phone the weekend before last.
It’s obvious the poll isn’t aimed at the Post readership because they reliably tilt to the left – if you’re a conservative in the Beltway area you probably pick up the Washington Times. Instead, I think it was aimed at a small group of politicians: Democrats in the House of Delegates who may balk at passing this legislation. Yet they really have nothing to fear, given that the poll was taken from a random sampling of adults in Maryland, mainly on a weekend.
I also found the second question to be a loaded one, as three separate items were tucked into one question very similar to the previous one. Even among Second Amendment enthusiasts, most would agree that a background check is a good idea and that question scored 82 percent in the Post poll. Knowing that, it shouldn’t be a surprise that when background checks are included in the palette of options for the very next question, the answer would be yes. I doubt that nearly as many Marylanders would agree to fingerprints or an eight-hour training course. And it’s not lost on me that the financial cost of O’Malley’s plan to individual gun owners was left on the cutting room floor as a question to be asked.
Personally, I would trust the thousands who attempted to testify against making Maryland’s already-stringent gun laws even more draconian and safely own and handle guns over people who aren’t even gun owners – less than three out of ten who responded to the Post poll were willing to admit they owned a weapon. I daresay they didn’t call a whole lot of NRA members then.
Ignore gun owners at your peril, Maryland General Assembly.
I think this is a good time to remind you about yesterday’s post on the Annapolis bus trip slated for tomorrow.
The question expressed in the title is perhaps the most vital one going forward for Maryland Republicans. Some are already arguing the state is a lost cause, and when your state’s winning Presidential write-in is Santa Claus (yes, Santa was an official write-in candidate so his votes counted) it’s pretty likely that too many expect things from the government.
In 2012 there were two statewide candidates bearing the Republican ticket and two Libertarians. While the circles aren’t perfectly together, if you made a Venn diagram there would be a lot of common ground and that percentage could make a difference someday. So for the sake of this argument I’m adding them together.
- President: Mitt Romney 971,869 + Gary Johnson 30,195 = 1,002,064 (37%)
- U.S. Senate: Dan Bongino 693,291 + Dean Ahmad 32,252 = 725,543 (27.5%)
Arguably, of the two Republicans the case can be made that Bongino was the more conservative while Romney was perceived by most as relatively centrist (and the closer he got to the end of the campaign, the more he drifted toward the center.) But in that Senate race there was the third man, and polling suggests that for every two votes he took from Democrat Ben Cardin he took three from Dan Bongino. Add 60% of Rob Sobhani’s total to this mix and you have 984,103. Figure in the 2.7% undervote on the Senate race as compared to the Presidential one and it looks like the current conservative/libertarian ceiling is about 1 million votes statewide.
So let’s say that 1,000,000 is the magic number. If our side had turned out 1,000,000 votes for each past statewide election:
- The 2010 statewide elections for Governor and Comptroller would have been nailbiters rather than over by 30 minutes after the polls closed.
- Those elections would have been for an open gubernatorial seat because Bob Ehrlich would have been re-elected in 2006. Michael Steele would have ran this year as an incumbent, and the other two statewide races would have been agonizingly close losses.
You’ll notice that these are gubernatorial cycles rather than Presidential – simply put, 1 million votes in Maryland won’t win in a Presidential year. The only GOP candidate to ever exceed 1 million here was George W. Bush in 2004 and he was running as an incumbent (and still lost big.)
So the trick is getting the same base which comes out to vote in the Presidential election to participate in the gubernatorial ones. But at the same time we have to expand our share of the pie somewhat to be more competitive in Presidential races rather than having GOP campaigns write Maryland off as a lost cause before the campaign even begins.
While there is a share of the electorate which has as its focus a single issue (generally social issues like abortion or gay marriage, although this extends to items like Second Amendment issues or property rights) most people vote their pocketbook and unfortunately they’ve come to grudgingly accept that the government is going to take more out of their pocket regardless of how much they complain. After all, in 2010 – during a TEA Party wave election – Maryland voters re-elected a governor who had raised taxes on practically everyone. But Martin O’Malley successfully pushed the message that “a fee is a tax” and could paint his GOP opponent Bob Ehrlich with the same brush. (O’Malley and General Assembly Democrats then merrily went on to raise many of those same fees.)
Yet at the same time a growing proportion of these voters have become recipients of these same government handouts the increased taxes pay for, creating a situation where redistribution of wealth is the means by which the majority party maintains power. After all, when over half depend on government for their well-being then those in charge of the government tend to stay in charge.
Somewhere we have allowed the opposition to paint us as heartless government cutters. And the other problem is that telling people that “it’s your money” doesn’t work as well when they receive the money from a governmental unit. That doesn’t have to be the ever more ubiquitous EBT card – it can be employment by a governmental unit, whether city hall, the local school, or any of the thousand other bureaus, agencies, or even nonprofits which depend on government grants for their existence. Remember, that cop on the street, your child’s public school teacher, or the lady at the MVA are all government employees, but so is the Salisbury University professor or – indirectly – the grant writer at the nonprofit. Nearly all of them have a vested interest in making sure the taxpayer money spigot remains flowing, because many are scared by the common media narrative into believing the TEA Party is going to leave them high and dry.
Indeed, there are certain cases where they could be correct. But one argument I wish Dan Bongino could have amplified more, because it was effective, ran along the lines (I’m paraphrasing from memory) of being happy to pay for the cop on the street, the public school teacher, or the soldier in Afghanistan – but he drew the line at cowboy poetry festivals in Nevada.
Obviously one can argue the merits of a project which benefits one small area – the drought-stricken farmer in Indiana whose subsidized disaster assistance we criticize may feel the same way about Ocean City beach replenishment here. Moreover, those are small potatoes compared to the huge entitlement spending begging to be cleaned up on the federal level.
But we have to start small and gain trust, particularly when it comes to state politics. For all his tax-raising faults and sacrificing the needs of his state in order to pursue the personal gain of higher office, Martin O’Malley is not an unpopular governor. Arguably this could be due to plenty of help from a sympathetic media, but he’s used the state’s better-than-average unemployment rate (thanks to adjacency to the seat of federal government) to convey the message that all is well. Those who have differing opinions don’t have the same blowtorch to get the message out – 25,000 Facebook followers for Change Maryland is great but hundreds of thousands of Marylanders subscribe to the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post. While I wish to have thousands of readers a day and believe my message is worth the readership, I don’t reach that many with this little candle of mine – it’s no blowtorch quite yet. To be quite blunt, if you took the unique daily readership of ALL the political blogs which deal with Maryland politics – even including their attempts at multimedia – and added them all together, you might equal the readership of a regional newspaper like the Daily Times. As it stands at present, we’re the guppies in an ocean of media, and we have to work at expanding that sphere of influence as well.
Yet the very argument we have a winning message remains untested. Perhaps Dan Bongino was a nearly perfect spokesperson for a conservative message, but there were factors which affected his Senate bid: a perceived lack of life and business experience compared to his opponents, and the fact that one opponent ran a populist campaign with non-specific promises no one forced him to flesh out. Rob Sobhani wanted the debates and so did we, but Hurricane Sandy had other plans for our state and hard questions weren’t asked.
Yet even if Bongino had ran his 2012 race unmolested, the probability is strong he would have picked up around the same 36 to 37 percent which has seemed to be our ceiling in Presidential years. We have to convince about 300,000 more voters in a Presidential year that – assuming we have a conservative, pro-liberty candidate, of course – it’s in the best interests of both them and succeeding generations to cast their ballot for such a person. In one lump, that seems like a lot, but it really only takes a handful of politically agnostic neighbors or friends per activist to accomplish.
In the near future, 2014 is looming and there are at least four candidates who are looking for conservative, pro-liberty support (although they may or may not necessarily have a compatible message: think Bob Ehrlich.) Yet the same rules apply; as I demonstrated earlier getting 1 million votes in a gubernatorial year keeps us at least close and climbing the ladder for another 100,000 may put us over the top.
Yet we cannot rely on a politician – even one as articulate as Dan Bongino – to deliver our message for us. It’s time for all of us to do our part, even though many of us are still burned out on the lengthy 2012 campaign and the disappointment we feel with the results. Indeed, we lost this time but there’s always the next election. Spread the word that we CAN win!
Yes, it’s time to clear out the e-mail box and since “random thoughts on the passing scene” was sort of taken by Thomas Sowell I call this exercise “odds and ends.” Usually I put up anywhere from a sentence to three paragraphs or so for items not long enough to stand a full post but interesting to me nonetheless.
Perhaps I’m reading more into this than I should, but the other day I found out Andy Harris is likely no fan of the FairTax. This is because, as part of an e-mail I received from him on real estate issues he wrote:
I oppose plans that would result in net tax increases by restricting or eliminating the home mortgage deduction.
Now maybe this is only in context with his next statement:
Reduction, modification, or elimination of all or some of the current tax benefits for homeowners will remain a risk as long as the Administration strives to reduce debt by raising tax revenue without getting wasteful and unnecessary spending under control.
This is where Andy was discussing recommendations by Obama’s deficit commission that would eliminate the mortgage interest deduction for certain (presumably wealthy) homeowners or cut these deductions across the board in an effort to raise revenue.
Andy makes the correct point in his note that we need to cut spending, but I’m hoping he’s not shut the door on a consumption-based taxation system.
One thing I can also say about Andy is that he’s not on any vice-presidential radar screen. But I got the results of a survey the other day which surprised me.
The Liberty News Network, which purportedly is representative of the TEA Party given its parent company is Grassfire Nation, conducted an online poll asking who Mitt Romney should select as his running mate. While the piece claims a “majority” of TEA Partiers prefer Marco Rubio, the last time I checked 36.6% wasn’t a “majority.” That, friends, is only a plurality.
Despite that LNN headlining faux pas, Rubio won the poll but I also find it interesting that the “racist” TEA Party’s top three choices were Marco Rubio, Allen West with 23.4 percent, and Condoleeza Rice, who had 18.2 percent. No one else was over 5.2% of the vote. Apparently almost 80 percent of these “racists” are fine with a Latino or black vice-president – I would be more happy with West than Rubio or Rice, though.
Speaking of Latinos, but more generally of the variety of those having dubious legality to be in our country, I was alerted to a Washington Post story that glowingly describes the city of Baltimore’s efforts to repopulate itself via the immigrant population. Shani George, the Post employee who occasionally feeds bloggers items of interest from the paper, wrote in her e-mail:
The welcome mats thrown out by struggling cities and states stand in stark contrast to the reception immigrants have faced in places such as Arizona and Alabama. Most of the immigrant-friendly measures around the country are in their infancy, so it is difficult to assess how effective they are.
Critics say cities that lure immigrants end up with high numbers of undocumented migrants. That also is difficult to measure, particularly now that immigration from Mexico, the largest source of illegal immigration, has dwindled to essentially zero.
And the story, by Carol Morello and Luz Lazo, starts right out with the emotional punch to the gut:
A native of Puebla, Mexico, (Alexandra) Gonzalez feels more at home in Baltimore with every passing year. She attends city-run nutrition and exercise classes in Spanish and takes her two young children to a Spanish-language storytelling hour at her neighborhood library. She plans to earn a GED and become a teacher.
Both of Gonzalez’s young children were born in America, so they are American citizens; meanwhile, the accompanying photo captions to the story say Alexandra and her husband are here sans permission. And it doesn’t sound like they’re looking to assimilate anytime soon, since she’s taking Spanish-language courses and sending her kids to similar classes. William Donald Schaefer is slowly spinning in his grave.
Of course, Pat McDonough weighed in. I did not change the text of this excerpt of his release – indeed, it is all caps:
THE MAYOR’S ‘AMNESTY ATMOSPHERE’ IS CREATING UNFAIR COMPETITION FOR JOBS AND ENTRANCE INTO COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR THE LEGAL RESIDENTS OF BALTIMORE. THE MAYOR IS PANDERING TO THE HISPANIC VOTE, CREATING A SUPER MAGNET FOR AN INFLUX OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.
I AM SURPRISED THAT THE MEDIA, PRESS, AND OTHER ELECTED OFFICIALS HAVE NOT CHALLENGED HER IN THESE EXTREME AND RECKLESS POLICIES.
For the most part Pat is right, but how many people are going to kill the messenger? Dude, lighten up a little, stop being a publicity hog, and fire whoever is writing your stuff in all caps. You just might be the reason no one is challenging these policies.
And it’s a shame because being a bull in a china shop like that, in many instances, drowns out more reasoned arguments like this one from writer Hans Bader about upcoming proposed rule changes in Maryland schools. In many, the inmates would end up running the asylum. (Sorry about the link – Examiner is really overdoing it on intrusive ads.)
Finally, I want to send out a bat-signal to a couple of my loyal readers who have items before the County Council, ones which will certainly be decided during their next meeting. Both the Charter Review Committee and Redistricting Committee have finished their work, and I know the County Council held a work session on both in their last meeting.
If I can get an executive summary of the proposed Charter changes and a copy of the proposed map, I would find it most helpful for analysis of both. The briefing book County Council used in their last meeting is 90 pages long with a lot of extraneous information. Even though I’ve been described as “wordy,” “verbose,” and “wonky,” I like concise information.
The next County Council meeting will be Tuesday, August 7, and it should be the monthly evening meeting. From what I’ve read on the Charter changes, they should be palatable to most but I just want to make sure my interpretation is correct. Meanwhile, I understand the county’s district map had to change quite a bit and I think it would be helpful for my commentary on it to have a copy for sharing!
So there you have it, the odds and ends of life.
With the recent blowup of the Change Maryland study I’ve written about a few times over the last couple weeks, it’s clear that Governor Martin O’Malley has been installed into the state’s political conversation to such a degree that we’re forgetting two key facts: one, he’s a lame-duck Governor, and two: he’s not anywhere on the 2012 ballot. Those who bemoan the fact that Democrats are running against George W. Bush two elections on (because President Bush hasn’t run for anything, even dogcatcher, since 2004) may want to consider the fact that Martin O’Malley, while representative of the typical liberal tax-and-spend philosophy, isn’t the opponent in any of these 2012 state races and each of these contests has its own dynamic.
A good example of this is Dan Bongino’s campaign, which has attempted to tie incumbent Senator Ben Cardin and O’Malley together by portraying the Senator as a mute observer of the Maryland political scene as well as the Obama re-election campaign, which IS on the ballot. (By the way, Bongino has some choice words as well about the Obama tactic of insinuating Mitt Romney is a felon.)
But there is a political reality at work when it comes to placing O’Malley as a surrogate on the 2012 ballot. The only way to really know whether O’Malley’s missteps will hurt the Democratic cause this fall is to see polling data on his approval rating, which earlier this year was pegged at 55% in a Washington Post poll and 53% in the Maryland Poll by Gonzales Research. (A useful item in the Maryland Poll is their historic polling, which showed O’Malley’s approval dipped into the upper 30′s in early 2008 after the passage of multiple tax increases the previous fall. But obviously all was forgiven by re-election time in 2010.) If O’Malley’s policies remain popular, such a negative approach toward him may backfire with voters who aren’t paying a tremendous amount of attention yet and only read the spin on his frequent Sunday morning guest appearances.
We know that MOM has been raked over the coals but good from the Change Maryland study as well as bad jobs reports and the ineptitude of the end of the regular General Assembly session this spring. We can add the tax increases passed in the first Special Session and the poor handling of proposed gambling expansion via another on-again, off-again Special Session which may occur to the chalk marks on O’Malley’s negative ledger.
Unfortunately, at this point it’s difficult to tell just how bad of a summer the Governor has had because there aren’t any major polls out there which peg O’Malley’s approval, and I’m not privy to any internal campaign polling to clarify this approach. Obviously if Governor O’Malley is in the same range as he was in early 2008, tying him into other Democratic candidates may work; otherwise, it’s simply repeating the approach of solidifying a base that should be pretty well sewn up by now. I believe that’s the analysis our side gives when we see Democrats blaming George W. Bush for the nation’s ills even though the former President has been quietly living civilian life since January of 2009, so it should probably apply to Martin O’Malley until we see more conclusive proof that the negatives are there to use as an anchor to other candidates.
Notwithstanding the handful of county races or whatever issues survive the all-but-certain judicial process to be placed on a statewide ballot, there are ten key races in Maryland and eight of them feature Democratic incumbents. (That’s eight members of Congress including the six Democrats, the U.S. Senate seat, and Presidential race.) We all know that these incumbent Democrats have run away from their records for the most part because, except in certain limited quarters, who would want to be associated with such a record of failure as that wrought by the man at the top of the ticket? Their only tactic seems to be blaming Bush and lying about how bad things were under his watch – I’d take 5% unemployment right now, how about you?
So I’d really be interested to see just how much this month has affected Martin O’Malley’s approval rating before going all-in on including him with the remaining races to be fought. Having said that, though, because Change Maryland is an organization concerned with the state of the state, I think MOM is fair game for them and I’d be disappointed if they didn’t question his tax-and spend record and its effects on the state’s economy.
If they’ve driven his negatives up to 2008 levels, using it in campaign 2012 may not be a bad play – but let’s see some evidence of that first.