An online journal of politics, policy, and society with a special focus on Maryland -- Contact: on_background at yahoo.com.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Maryland Primary

Maryland joins the fray on Super Tuesday after state Democratic party leaders including Chair Ike Leggett moved the primary up in an attempt to gain more attention from presidential candidates. Will Tuesday be the last gasp for candidates like Sen. John Edwards trailing Sen. John Kerry or a reversal of fortunes that reinvigorates a race that otherwise might be all but over?

The American Research Group, in a poll done Feb. 27 – 28 shows Kerry leading Edwards 46% to 35%, a slight widening of the gap indicated on their Feb. 23 - 25 poll showing Kerry ahead of Edwards 42% to 35% with 15% undecided and everything else in small single digits among registered Democrats likely to vote. Democrats on the ground seem to feel that, while many want this race to be over so that the focus can be on beating President Bush, Edwards remains competitive.

A Mason-Dixon poll, on the other hand, shows Kerry with a dramatic 3 to 1 lead over Edwards in polling done Feb. 23 to 25. Those results would seem to be supported by a Survey USA Poll from Feb. 3-5, while presumably out-of-date, which calls Maryland a formality and gives Kerry an overwhelming lead of 47% and Edwards 15%. This suggests that even Dean's dedicated followers who still talk about organizing for him, and the supporters of Clark are among those probably making Edwards more competitive. Repeated poll results and conversations with Democrats around the state indicate that none of the other candidates are moving at all, despite grassroots efforts.

The Mason-Dixon poll offers regional breakdowns which, along with a Post article, give a feel for how the race is developing across the state:

Bethesda pollster Keith Haller defined the groups in broad terms: well-educated, progressive Democrats, mostly populating Montgomery and Howard counties; African American voters, registered in large numbers in Baltimore and Prince George's County; and moderate conservatives in traditional Democratic areas, such as the blue-collar suburbs in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties, who have gravitated to Republican presidential candidates since Ronald Reagan.

In other primary states, Haller said, the so-called Reagan Democrats "were moving toward Edwards." But it is not clear, he said, whether Edwards has enough time to cause those people to turn out for him.

Things have heated up here as pundits suggest Maryland might be one of Edwards’ best shots to turn the tide. No matter which polls are closest to the truth, both campaigns are kicking into high gear with GOTV efforts, Maryland visits by Elizabeth Edwards and John Kerry, and last-minute endorsements.
Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore joined a slew of Maryland Democratic leaders
in backing John Kerry just this month, while Rep. Al Wynn of Prince George's remains Edwards' most prominent backer in Maryland.

The Leftcoaster offered the following historical review in October:
5/8/1984: Mondale 42.5%, Jackson 25.5%, Hart 24.3%, Glenn 1.2%, McGovern 1.1%
3/8/1988: Dukakis 45.6%, Jackson 28.7%, Gore 8.7%, Gephardt 7.9%, Simon 3.1%, Hart 1.8%, Babbitt 0.9%
3/3/1992: Tsongas 40.6%, Clinton 33.5%, Brown 8.2%, Uncommitted 6.4%, Harkin 5.8%, Kerrey 4.8%

Tuesday's results are eagerly awaited as Marylanders prepare to turn their attentions to the fall campaign. Stay tuned for a preview of other Maryland races tomorrow.