As promised, here’s a spreadsheet of Democratic early voting turnout by county for each of the first five days of early voting.
With five days of data in the can, there’s enough here to look for patterns and trends. Pull up a chair and let’s play.
The main underperforming large jurisdiction on a cumulative basis thus far remains Prince George’s County, which lags Montgomery County and the Baltimores by over a full percentage point and MoCo by 1,500 voters. As previously noted, in 2014 Prince George’s turnout was 5,000 voters more than Montgomery. Barring a major turnaround the next three days, that’s not going to happen.
Besides Montgomery County, which we’ve discussed, a major overperformer has been Howard County, where one in 14 registered Democrats has already voted. Howard’s reward is that I’ve now upgraded them to “major county” status by bolding the county on the spreadsheet.
While I know it’s a little bit of an apples to oranges thing, I think a comparison to 2014 is at least a useful exercise. Both years have eight days of early voting, both start and end on a Thursday, and both have relatively similar early voting access. So let’s see what we see. In order of percentage increase from 2014-2016:
Montgomery County: 8,402 early votes through five days in 2014, 18,746 in five days in 2016. Increase: 123.11%. MoCo is the only major jurisdiction to have already exceeded its entire 2014 turnout in five days of 2016 early voting.
Howard County: 3,592 early votes in 2014, 7,001 in 2016. Increase: 94.91%.
Baltimore City: 7,989 early votes in 2014, 15,033 in 2016. Increase: 88.17%.
Anne Arundel County: 4,658 early votes in 2014, 8,690 in 2016. Increase: 86.56%.
Prince George’s County: 9,791 early votes in 2014, 17,260 in 2016. Increase: 76.28%.
Baltimore County: 9,258 early votes in 2014, 15,273 in 2016. Increase: 64.97%.
Montgomery County, Chris Van Hollen’s base, is booming. Donna Edwards’ base, Prince George’s County, is lagging by the above metric.
But a word of caution. The 2014 history shows that Montgomery significantly outperformed other large jurisdictions on the two weekend days, both of which are now already accounted for. That year, Prince George’s exceeded MoCo on every one of the six weekdays by a minimum of 472 voters, and the margin grew hugely the last four days, by a total of 4,121 voters. Yesterday’s margin for Prince George’s was 793 votes, right in line with the 2014 Monday margin of 813. So if history is any guide, the Van Hollen campaign still has a lot of work to do at home, and Donna Edwards has some better numbers to look forward to by the end of the week.
Elsewhere, Baltimore City is performing strongly, as are Howard and Anne Arundel. If we look at the latter two counties as a unit, they equate well to the other four large jurisdictions (8,250 early voters in 2014, 15,691 in 2016), just above Baltimore City and Baltimore County but below Montgomery and Prince George’s. My sense is that they will tilt strongly towards Van Hollen. Will they together perform as well for him as Baltimore City will for Donna Edwards? Hard to say (probably not), but that’s something to look for when the first results are posted as soon as the polls close on Election Night, which will include complete early vote tallies. Even if the Howard/Anne Arundel conglomerate only cuts Edwards’ edge in Baltimore City by half (which is probably too low, but a reasonable baseline), Van Hollen’s edge in Baltimore County will almost assuredly eat up the rest. If it’s close at that point, all those little counties that I’ve been making fun of (hi, Talbot County) will tip the scales decidedly for Van Hollen. But Chris Van Hollen would probably feel a hell of a lot better if Baltimore County wasn’t lagging pretty far behind on the above numbers.
That Baltimore County-Baltimore City comparison is something else to watch for. Just as Prince George’s historically outperforms Montgomery down the stretch, so does Baltimore County outpace the City. In 2014, the four weekdays yielded an edge for the County of 2,174 early voters. The first day of that period in 2014 (Monday), there were 461 more County early voters than in the City. Yesterday? 464. You simply cannot make this shit up, folks. That is downright spooky.
As I see it, then, the numbers look good for Chris Van Hollen. Good, but not great. And there’s three days left to go, and history favors those numbers getting better for Donna Edwards in Prince George’s County. Edwards really, really needs to see such gains in Prince George’s County over the next three days. It happened in 2014 without anyone really trying. Can she make it happen now? Can Van Hollen’s formidable GOTV operation here in MoCo cancel out history and extend his home county’s current position at the top of the heap?
So many questions, so much fun to think about them, at least for those of us who get to watch, comment and analyze. Stay tuned.