Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lessons Learned from Election 2012

The dust is still settling from Tuesday's Election, but we do have some numbers to digest and things to mull over as far as how these results project into the future.  This is not hard statistical analysis, but rather assumptions based on fact and my general knowledge of the County.

First, the HoCo Presidential Results:

Turn-out 2012: 188,748 (64.45%) 
Turn-out 2008: 145,601 (83.15 %)

Something seems screwy here.  Top number taken from MD BoE, bottom from HoCo BoE.

Obama/Biden 2008:  87,120 (60%)
Obama/Biden 2012: 84,069 (59.3%)

McCain/Palin 2008: 55,393 (38.1%)
Romney/Ryan 2012: 54,161 (38.2%)

(Santa Claus did not get one vote!?!?  No one likes irony in this County?)

From this we can say that the Republican party is stuck, if not moving backwards.  McCain received 36.5% of the statewide vote in 2008.  Romney won 36.4% in 2012.  In both circumstances, Howard County GOP voters outpaced the average, but with a less popular Obama on the ticket, I think Republicans would have liked to have seen Romney get over 45%.  There was no ground game here, and the Romney campaign probably could care less about a County in the middle of a deep blue state, but local Repubs were watching this election to see where they stand.  In sum - not good.

Why?  They need to capture unaffiliated voters to win.  As noted in an earlier post, Howard County Republicans only make up 30% of registrations, with Democrats at 48%.  It doesn't take too much lazy math to realize that the unaffiliated voters are weak partisan Dems.  In order to win a county-wide race, or even stay competitive in swing Council District 1 and newly created Delegate District 9A, they need those unaffiliated voters.  It doesn't look like they're getting them.

The sad thing is that I think that GOP success is possible in this County.  We have a strong Chamber of Commerce and a wealthy corporate sector who, I would assume, are playing the hands they're dealt by sending contributions to Dem law-makers.  The local GOP has put its resources into tea-party rallies and the Taxpayer Protection Initiative when it could have otherwise fostered its professional base.  Two years is a short time to get a political house in order, but if they want anything more than an embarrassment come November 2014, that's the task at hand.

Board of Education Results:

Siddiqui -- 64,006 (22.0%)
De Lacy -- 48,342 (16.6%)
Giles -- 47,743 (16.4%)
Ballinger -- 44,610 (15.4%)
Gertler -- 43,438 (14.9%)
Scott -- 41,363 (14.2%)

Some local elected officials were predicting this result as early as the first week of October.  It may be worth noting that Ken Ulman won re-election for County Executive in 2010 with 66,121 votes.  Janet Siddiqui would have made him sweat.

I think I speak for a lot of people when I encourage Ann De Lacy to pay attention as they remove Allen Dyer's name plate from the dias.  Take pride in your victory, but understand that the electorate will only tolerate so much "shaking things up." 

Bob Ballinger did a great job capturing the Low Education Education Voter, between sign waving, prolific sign posting, and the "Bullet Bob" strategy amongst Republicans.  Unfortunately for him, I think he's seen the limits of this approach, especially since there will be a second chamber on that gun in 2014 when union-endorsed GOPer Brian Meshkin runs for re-election.  (I'm going to have to hold on to all those angry posts about the HCEA from my GOP friends to see if they feel the same way when one of their own is riding the apple to office).

David Gertler saw the business end of the LEEV.  He tried to appeal to those who would pay attention to tutoring sessions and a discussion of what STEM means, spurning opportunities to sign way or post 10 foot signs at choice intersections.  It was a risk he took with eyes open and unfortunately it did not go his way.  If this election teaches us anything it is that cold-blooded practicality wins the BoE.

Jackie Scott is a very impressive woman, and I was so glad to see her running, but I'm not sure if she was made out for campaigning, or at least not yet.  I really didn't see Jackie around too much and mostly found out what she was doing from her Dem sponsors.  Speaking of which, I think that for all of the promotion of Jackie Scott's candidacy in the last two weeks by members of the County Council, there should have been some guidance on day one about how the campaign should be run.  If that happened, we didn't see it.  I hope Jackie stays involved and would even suggest that a run for County Council may be more successful for someone with her background and skill set.

This all looks like Monday Morning Quarterbacking...because it is.  My guy lost too.  But a loss doesn't count unless you learn from it, and I think there is a great deal to learn from 2012.

I'm not going to have a chance to review the ballot questions today, but may give them a shot on Monday.

Have a great Thursday doing what you love!