Monday, December 14, 2009

Meaningless Numbers

The left has decided to examine Governor Ehrlich's chances of unseating Martin O'Malley next year, and Adam Pagnucco decided to start his analysis with the most meaningless statistic in all of politics: voter registration data.

Overall, the Democrats have an absolute majority (at 56.9%) and outnumber Republicans by better than two-to-one. But the total numbers mask the geographic domination of the Democrats and the regional isolation of the GOP.

The Democrats have more than 50% of registered voters in eight jurisdictions: Baltimore City and Baltimore, Charles, Dorchester, Kent, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Somerset Counties. Those jurisdictions account for 60% of the state’s registered voters. The Republicans have more than 50% of registered voters in two jurisdictions: Carroll and Garrett Counties, which account for just 4% of the state’s registered voters.

Let’s lower the threshold to 40%. The Democrats have more than 40% of registered voters in 18 jurisdictions (all except Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Queen Anne’s and Washington Counties) that account for 88% of the state’s registered voters. The Republicans have more than 40% of registered voters in eight jurisdictions: Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Queen Anne’s, Talbot and Washington Counties, which account for just 17% of the state’s registered voters.
All of which, statistically speaking, was incredibly similar to the numbers that then-Congressman Ehrlich faced in 2002 when he defeated Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Pagnucco goes on to continue with his analysis:
Registration does not always determine voting behavior. Maryland is a state in which Democrats can and do vote for Republicans, the most successful of whom has unquestionably been Bob Ehrlich. But all of the above means that the Democrats have a far broader reach across the state than does the GOP. Western Maryland is the only region in which the Democrats struggle to compete. The Republicans are non-competitive in three of the state’s four biggest jurisdictions (Baltimore City and Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties) and lag Democrats in Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, fast-growing Charles County and even some parts of the Eastern Shore. All of this is a hurdle that any statewide GOP candidate would have to overcome.
Which of course, is also completely meaningless. When you look at voting results, and not voting registration, you see a picture that is, statistically speaking, more of a level playing field for Republicans running in Maryland; particularly a more-moderate, high-name ID Republican such as Bob Ehrlich. And, of course you need to look no further than the aforementioned Anne Arundel County to notice that a Democratic-majority county has elected this decade a Republican County Executive, Clerk of the Court, Register of Wills, two Circuit Court Judges who ousted Democratic appointees, three Judges of the Orphans Court, four of seven County Council Members, a majority of the Delegates, half of the State Senators, and gave two solid majorities to Bob Ehrlich and George W. Bush, and even one to John McCain.

What does this all mean? It means that voter registration numbers as a means of determining voter performance are completely useless......which was something Pagnucco could have learned had he read my analysis from six months ago, the last time he tried this argument.

If Democrats are hanging their hat on voter registration numbers to bail them out next year, Bob Ehrlich and the Republican Party may be in better shape that even we think...

(Crossposted)

2 comments:

Bruce said...

From Pagnucco: "Registration does not always determine voting behavior. Maryland is a state in which Democrats can and do vote for Republicans, the most successful of whom has unquestionably been Bob Ehrlich."

I think you disagree less than you think, and Pagnucco's point about being uncompetitive in the largest core jurisdictions is interesting (in my opinion.)

Greg Kline said...

It reminds me of the Sun editorial cartoon in 2002 of Bob Ehrlich beating his head against the wall. The Dems are convinced of their own invincibility and are increasingly desparate to have others believe it too.

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