- Much of the political news in Maryland has been focused upon the negative polling data for Bob Ehrlich over the past two weeks. I think that Ehrlich made a tactical mistake by letting O'Malley go up on the air unanswered for several months in the Baltimore market and several weeks in the DC market. Hopefully, now that he is hitting O'Malley for covering up negative economic reports, things will begin to shift.
- There were a few positive news items in Maryland this week. The Carrol County Times reports that Republicans have increased their registration numbers while Democrats have lost several hundred voters. This might seem insignificant as Carrol County is already a very "red" jurisdiction. On the other hand, if we would only shore up our support in the conservative parts of the state, we would go a long way in making this a two party state. A few months ago, there was a report in the Baltimore Sun about Republicans making registration gains in Harford County, another growing red county in Maryland. The GOP has failed for many years to harness the conservative energy that already exists in much of the state. There is still a lot of improvement to be made even in the counties that are already considered "in the bag" for Republicans.
- Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies (a respected local polling firm) conducted a poll of the Howard County Executive race and found Democrat incumbent Ken Ulman leading Republican Trent Kittleman by just 49-41. This is more important than it appears on the surface because Howard County is the 4th most liberal jurisdiction in Maryland, just behind Baltimore City, Montgomery, and Prince George's Counties. Also, Howard has 30,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans, and in addition to the county executive's job, Democrats hold four of five County Council seats and eight of 11 General Assembly seats in Howard. Ulman is a popular incumbent, and incumbent Democrat County Executives are never seriously threatened in Maryland.
Gonzales stresses that these survey results are very telling. To begin with, they seem to support empirical data from the primaries that suggest a much more favorable turnout model for Republicans than in the past. Republicans turnout in last month's primary was up 26% from 2006, while Democrat turnout was down 19%. Gonzales said that he believes "a Republican tsunami is coming. Howard County will have some eye-opening results on Election Day." In response to criticism from Democrats concerning "unrealistic" turnout models, Gonzales replied, "If anything, I'm being way too optimistic for Democrats."
Another important thing about this poll is its reflection on the gubernatorial race. If a little known, underfunded Republican is closing in on an incumbent Democrat in a place like Howard County, it is hard to believe that O'Malley is really that far ahead of Ehrlich. Howard County, along with Baltimore County will be the key jurisdiction in the governor's race.
We will find out later this week if the polling trend towards O'Malley is real, but for now this is my small attempt to raise the morale of the tea party troops in Maryland. After all, in a state like Maryland, we conservatives will take any good news we can get.