How Hogan did it

The short version: he stormed Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties, winning massive majorities there, while sweeping the traditionally Republican rural areas (Harford and the Eastern Shore, Western & Southern Maryland) and doing well enough in Frederick, Carroll, and Howard Counties (winning all three) so as to offset the massive Democratic majorities in Baltimore City and Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. Click here to see the county by county breakdown.

But Republican candidates aren’t supposed to win the shield of suburban counties around Baltimore. Martin O’Malley won Baltimore and Howard Counties easily in 2010. Hogan came up with 150,000 more votes than Robert Ehrlich recieved four years ago. Most of them had to come from previous O’Malley voters, as evidenced by the fact that Anthony Brown ended up with 10,000 fewer votes last night than Ehrlich got.

So how did Hogan get them?

  1. He kept it simple. Hogan was relentless on the things that had Marylanders unhappy: taxes, the economy, the lousy turnout of Maryland’s ACA-system, and Anthony Brown’s connection to all of them. He didn’t get drawn into the weeds on social issues in a deep-blue state; despite the temptation to challenge the Dems on gun control, Hogan stayed on message. Thus, Brown’s hysterical attempts to paint him as a right-wing extremist failed to gain any real traction.
  2. He presented a positive image. No one can say that Hogan didn’t “go negative”. Criticizing the other guy is part of politics. But Hogan also understood that he needed to give disgruntled Marylanders a reason to vote for him. He did this at the debates; presenting himself as a serious, thoughtful man who got what was bugging voters about their current government, and had proposals in place to deal with them. When Brown tried to paint him as a wingnut, Hogan just kept emphasizing his business credentials and plans.
  3. Anthony Brown failed to connect. On paper, Anthony Brown is a formidable candidate: son of immigrants, harvard degree, former Army colonel. But unlike Hogan, he didn’t seem able to present a vision of what he wanted to do. A Lieutenant Governor or Vice President running for the top job has a delicate balancing act: giving equal deference to the administration you’re currently serving and the one you want to create. If the former is not as popular as it could be, that balance is even harder to strike. Brown couldn’t give a substantive response to Hogan’s critique of the O’Malley administration, and at times seemed to act as if he didn’t need to. That cost him.

So what comes next? My guess is that Hogan will govern as he campaigned: with an eye for fiscal restraint, bureaucratic reform, and improving Maryland’s business climate. If he pulls it off, a Republican winning the state house by way of Baltimore and Howard Counties may one day fail to surprise.

Forget it, Rick. It’s Maryland.

Maryland has been run by an oligarchy of high-minded swine since at least 1655, when a band of scurrilous Puritan rebels defeated the forces of Lord Baltimore at the Battle of the Severn. Today, Maryland is more or less a wholly owned subsidiary of the federal government. I mean that in the literal sense; the demographic weight of the state sits along the I-95 corridor between DC and Baltimore, and the vast majority of those between Prince George’s and Baltimore County work for the federal government. They don’t vote Democratic, they breathe Democratic.

All of which made yesterday both significant and meaningless. Significant because for the first time I can recall, the Maryland primary was actually contested, and not a rubber stamp on the pre-nominee’s victory. Meaningless because: it’s Maryland, Gateway to the Northeast, and the mass of the GOP minority here was in Romney’s pocket from the beginning.

I was picking up Chinese food last night and got spotted with my “I voted” sticker by a Ron Paul voter. We chatted a bit, friendly-like, and both came to a happy conclusion: that Romney marks the return of the Rockefeller Republican. And here in the Northeast, Rockefeller’s ghost, the 1964 might-have-been, still clatters about, shaking his chains, always threatening the Democrat kleptocracies, and never harming them.

Thus, the truth of fellow Marylander Stacy McCain’s lament:

Of course, Maryland is a very liberal state and, as such, is considered a shoo-in for the former governor of Massachusetts, so Mitt Romney will pick up 37 delegates in a state he’s got zero chance of winning in November. Because he’s inevitable! And electable!

Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.