Saturday, August 28, 2010

Maryland Governor Race

Race of the Day

Maryland Governor

August 28, 2010
66 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2008 Presidential Result: Blue State (East)

Outlook: Tossup (R)

Despite it's status as one of the Democrat's consistently strongest states, Maryland has seem some rip roaring, competitive contests for Governor dating back to 1994. This year is likely to be the same, as a rematch of the contest from four years ago lurks. While Democrats have pulled out three out of the last four of these very competitive races, any semblance of a national tide this year could provide the difference and give the GOP a narrow win.

Four years ago, Democrat Martin O'Malley captured the Governorship over first term Republican incumbent Bob Ehrlich. Just four years before, Ehrlich had surprised many in the political universe by taking advantage of a strong election year for Republicans and becoming the first GOP Governor in over 30 years. While Ehrlich remained reasonably popular as Governor, the pro-Democrat attitude was just too strong for him to survive his campaign for reelection. The polls were close all the way to the end, but on Election Day, O'Malley received a solid total of just under 53 percent of the vote.

O'Malley's term has Governor has seen it's ups and downs, but the only Republican who appeared capable of giving him a difficult race was Ehrlich. To the pleasure of many in the GOP, and after much anticipation, Ehrlich announced he would be making a comeback to get his old job back. Thus, Maryland now has a front-row seat to a political sequel on par with Rocky Balboa vs. Apollo Creed (or maybe Rocky vs. Clubber Lang from the GOP comeback perspective).

First though will be the formality of the Republican primary in September where Ehrlich is being challenged by Republican businessman Brian Murphy. Few give the more conservative candidate much of a chance of stopping Ehrlich, but Murphy has curiously been endorsed by Sarah Palin, and given some Republican primary results across the country, in which more conservative Tea Party backed candidates have captured victory, the Ehrlich camp will probably work hard to not take anything for granted.

As far as the general election is concerned, most polls show a very close race once again. Both candidates have been ahead by a very thin margin, with maybe O'Malley having a little bit of an edge on average, but with easily enough undecided voters to sway things in either direction. This contest may prove to be the ultimate tossup race for Governor anywhere in America. Maryland's history of favoring Democrats could very well deliver a second term to O'Malley, but the state's recent Gubernatorial elections have also seen undecideds break strongly in one direction in the final days. Ehrlich, being the challenger this time, is perhaps more likely to get the lion's share of the undecided vote, and since the national momentum for Republicans is expected to be greater than 2002, that could work in his benefit.

Keep a close eye on this race. Nobody should be surprised if they are still counting the ballots days after the election, but the candidate who runs the stronger campaign should be expected to win. O'Malley is far from looming defeat, but my hunch is that enough undecided voters breaking towards his opponent, and the overall Republican enthusiasm advantage in heading to the polls, will give Ehrlich his delayed second term.

Ehrlich campaign link:

2010 Governor races predicted thus far: 4 D, 12 R
Predicted Gubernatorial totals thus far: 11 D, 18 R