Shifting Sands 5 - and so it began....

Saturday, October 29, 2005
I’m going to be following a number of Senate races over the next year on an irregular regular basis – no set schedule but I will get through the ones that I find interesting as time permits. Since my own party (Rockingham Whig) has not as yet chosen to enter the lists, I will be following the races from the Republican viewpoint as the Republican Party offers the only viable simulacrum to a real political party extant.

Maryland is the state chosen for this first pass at actual political punditry. It was chosen because of the level of fear shown and interest taken by the Democratic Party and its minions in Michael Steele. I cannot remember the last time the Dems put operatives at risk of serious jail time so early in the game. The fact that the Clinton’s favorite opposition research operator is currently a Federal “guest” may have pushed Schumer to use inept operatives as dumpster divers.

Maryland is properly classified as a ‘blue’ state. It has a VAP of 4 million and had 56% voter participation in the ’04 election. It went 58/41 Kerry. 28% of the VAP are black which places Maryland fifth nationally in that regard. Interestingly, it is the only blue state in the top ten ranking by percentage of blacks in the total population. Maryland ranks fourteenth with regard to adult participation in the work force and forty-sixth with regard to the number of people below the poverty level. Its unemployment rate at 4.3% is twenty percent below the national average and the Bethesda area has the lowest unemployment rate of any metropolitan division in the US. It ranks third in median income and twenty-fourth in home ownership.

Congressional districts in Maryland have been well gerrymandered to the point where the lowest victory margin among eight races was 63/34 (Cardin’s district). There are two Republican fiefdoms and six Democratic ones. The Ehrlich/Steele ticket won the governor/lt. governor’s race in ’02 by 51.5/47.6. Steele’s run for the Senate makes Ehrlich’s retention of the governor’s post problematical.

The Dems are correct to fear Steele’s run for this Senate seat. He is going to be well funded (Ken Mehlman is chair of the RNC and was born in Baltimore), Steele has run statewide and won, the state’s economy is perking along very nicely and Michael Steele’s acceptance speech shows the polish and focus necessary for a Senate race. He will be running on "ownership society" themes that test very well accross racial lines and are integral to the Republican platform. I doubt that he will touch the voucher issue but he will also stress education. There is no way that the Dems can hang a winger label on him - he is a moderate through and through. A very strong candidate and worthy of financial support for those inclined.

I won’t be making any predictions about races until next August but I can guarantee that this one is going to be a barnburner – barring successful dumpster diving on the part of the Dems.

Note: The Senate races that I intend to focus on are: TN (open), VT(open), PA(Santorum), MN(open), FL(Nelson),NE(Nelson),WA(Cantwell),MI(Stabenow) and NJ(Corzine?). If you have suggestions concerning additions to this list or suggestions concerning the type of coverage that you would like to see – leave a note in comments or send me an email.


MeaninglessHotAir said...

Do you do all these terrific analyses by hand or do you have some means of automating them? For example, it would be quite interesting to be able to easily answer questions like: which state has the least gerrymandered Congressional districts? Which the most? Could this be put into a map in a color-coded way?

David Thomson said...

How much further will the influence of the MSM decline between now and election day? The Democrats, in many instances, cannot win without the full cooperation of their unofficial allies. Sliming Republicans, a specialty of the MSM, is mandatory if the Democrats are going to be victorious in the red and purple areas of the country.

I am fairly confident that the Republicans will be united. Some might currently engage in a bit of self pity and purist ideology. Nonetheless, when push comes to shove---they will realize that postmodernist Democrats are their greatest foes. The war on terror is also not going away anytime in the near future. We cannot afford to elect officials who will naively put us in harm’s way.

Rick Ballard said...

I do it by hand using tables that I download in spreadsheet form. I use census data for the demographics and raw vote data regarding the most recent election to generate the turnout rates.

The demographic data is useful in shaping messages. For example, the relatively high median income level and low home ownership rates in Maryland indicate that its public housing is probably in pretty good shape. Even if it is though, it offers an opportunity to address aspirations.

What would one look for wrt "most gerrymandered"? I can tell you that TX was unfair until DeLay wrung those five seats out of the Dems and I know that GA is one Rep seat short while CA is two Rep seats short but I'm not sure which is worse proportionately.

I'll check to see if I can find more egregious samples than those two - might be worth a post.

terrye said...


This is a really impressive endeavor. I appreciate your efforts.

What about California? I know Arnold is trying to to do some redistricting there but it sounds like an uphill battle.

Rick Ballard said...


Arnold is running an organizational test of party structure a year ahead of his re-election campaign. The referenda proposed are decent although there are I couple I won't vote for. I don't really trust the redistricting plan on a couple of levels. Personally, I don't have a big problem with gerrymanders unless the results are heavily skewed against one party. CA being short 2 Rep seats is no big deal. We send 53 Congresscritters to DC every two years and have sizeable population increases and decreases on a continual basis. Redistricting will not necessarily redress the imbalance. I suppose that the incumbency argument might be looked upon favorably by some but the idea of sending someone new every two years is one I don't find particularly appealing. The first year they spend finding out where the lady's room is located and the second year they spend running for re-election. Effective governance requires functional knowledges that can only be acquired experentially. Book larnin' ain't no help.

I look at it as a matter of trying to determine who might steal the least.

Btw - Arnold's move is great logistical politics - he's forcing his main opposition to spend money like water and dollars are bullets in politics.