Primary Day in Maryland is finally here, folks. To get the overall impression of how I am feeling about it, watch this video and wait until it gets five seconds in.
As always, I will preview the presidential contests; but I will also touch on a couple of intriguing down ballot primaries going on today, namely right here in Maryland.
I am actually reporting live from Rolling Terrace Elementary School in Takoma Park, with Delegate, and district eight congressional candidate, Ana Sol Gutierrez here talking to a slow, yet somewhat steady, trickle of voters coming in to cast their ballots.
In addition to Maryland, both parties are holding contests in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, and Rhode Island today.
I’ll explain more below, but today could be the final nail for a couple of campaigns out there. We’ll see what happens once the votes start coming in, but the general election match up could effectively be set today.
Last Tuesday, Hillary Clinton stomped out Bernie Sanders’ perceived momentum with a resounding victory in her home state of New York. This has his campaign reeling and desperately looking to find a way to bounce back.
Unfortunately for him, polling shows he could be in for a long night. Clinton has commanding leads in the two big prize states of Maryland and Pennsylvania and she has a solid lead in the most recent Delaware poll. She is leading, albeit slightly, in Connecticut and Rhode Island; though Sanders could make things interesting there.
Even if he does win Connecticut and Rhode Island, the math will not change. The way he has been talking the last few days, you can tell this reality is finally starting to set in. There is no longer mention of a “shock the world” upset where he beats out Clinton for the nomination.
Now he mentions his “narrow path,” and is even starting to say he will do whatever he can to make sure a republican does not occupy the White House for the next four years. And his campaign is saying they will reassess where things stand after tonight. This is not how a candidate talks when he/she is confident they will win.
Sanders is still saying he will hang in the race until June, but to be perfectly honest, I would not be surprised to see him suspend his campaign in the next few days if he gets swept in all five states tonight. At some point he needs to let Clinton fully turn her attention to the general election in November.
Let’s take a look at the states that will vote today.
Who votes: Closed primary.
Poll closings: Polls will close at 8:00 p.m. EST.
Delegate Allocation & Thresholds: 118 total delegates available: 95 pledged delegates; 23 unpledged superdelegates. 64 awarded by district; 21 awarded statewide; 15% threshold to receive delegates at either the state or district level.
Maryland’s eight districts award delegates on a proportional basis. The districts to watch are the fourth (10 delegates), seventh (nine delegates), and eighth (eight delegates).
District 4 covers Prince George’s County and Anne Arundel County (Annapolis) and has a heavily African American population. The same is true for District 7 which covers Baltimore County and is represented by popular Rep. Elijah Cummings, who endorsed Hillary Clinton earlier this month. Expect Clinton to run up big margins in these districts considering her widespread support among African American voters.
Sanders could pick off some delegates in the more rural, white areas of the state. Some of these areas are in District 8. Sanders should do well in Frederick and Carroll Counties but he should be able to draw wide support in the Takoma Park/Silver Spring areas of the district too. Takoma Park is the most liberal part of the state and features a lot of the white progressives Sanders has done so well with over the course of the primary.
Polling: Every poll coming into today indicates a blowout win for Clinton. For Sanders to keep Clinton’s delegate gain to a minimum, he will need to do what he did in New York; which is to rack up some delegates on the congressional district level since he is unlikely to get too many of the 21 statewide delegates available.
Maryland: Down Ballot
Senate: Current District 8 Rep. Chris Van Hollen and District 4 Rep. Donna Edwards jumped into the race for Maryland’s senate seat left open by the retirement of longtime Sen. Barbara Mikulski.
This primary fight between the two has largely been a state level version of what we are seeing in the battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
Van Hollen is the “establishment” Democrat who touts not only his ablility to fight and draw lines in the sand, but also his ability to know when to be pragmatic to get things done in Congress.
Donna Edwards, meanwhile, is saying Democrats have been too quick to compromise their core beliefs and she is the one who can shake things up in Congress and stand up for working families in the state. Edwards also uses her personal story as a single mother to connect with voters who are going through the similar struggles she went through.
Both candidates are well known entities in the state and like in the presidential primary, this race has grown increasingly hostile as it has gone on.
Edwards is hoping to run up the score in the heavily black areas of Prince George’s County and Baltimore City and to keep Van Hollen’s margins in Baltimore and Montgomery County to a minimum.
Van Hollen is more or less hoping to follow the map current Sen. Ben Cardin followed in his narrow 2006 primary victory over Kweisi Mfume; and current Republican Gov. Larry Hogan followed in his upset win over then Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in 2014. Below are spreadsheets showing how each race played out on the county level.
2006 Senate Primary
2014 Gubernatorial (General)
The layouts are relatively similar. Cardin and Hogan made up for lopsided losses in PG County and Baltimore City by running up the score in the Baltimore suburbs, along with Anne Arundel and Howard Counties. The only real difference is Cardin was able to win Montgomery County while Hogan lost there to Brown.
Either way, Van Hollen is basically trying to follow some version of the Cardin/Hogan map to victory.
One wild card to watch tonight is if the presidential contest has any effect on this race. If you’re Donna Edwards, you are hoping Hillary’s overwhelming support among African Americans, particularly African American women, will have a coattails effect and run up your vote totals as well.
Congressional District 8: With Van Hollen running for Senate, several candidates have jumped into the race to fill his now vacated seat. Among them are District 20 State Sen. Jamie Raskin, former reporter and Marriott CEO Kathleen Matthews, Total Wine co-founder David Trone, District 17 Del. Kumar Barve, District 18 Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez, and 2014 District 20 delegate candidate Will Jawando.
Sen. Raskin is hoping his heavily populated Senate District will carry him to a win, particularly in the progressive bastion of Takoma Park.
Kathleen Matthews’ base of support should be strongest in the more affluent areas of Rockville and Bethesda and among women; while David Trone is relying on a self-funded series of TV ad campaigns, and a robust GOTV and absentee ballot operation to carry the day for him.
I can honestly say I have no idea what is going to happen in this race. Jon has already linked to Adam Pagnucco’s preview of the race, but I will do so again as it covers everything you need to know about it.
Who votes: Closed primary.
Poll closings: Polls will close at 8:00 p.m. EST.
Delegate Allocation & Thresholds: 210 total delegates available: 189 pledged delegates; 21 unpledged superdelegates. 127 awarded by district; 62 awarded statewide; 15% threshold to receive delegates at either the state or district level.
Pennsylvania has 18 congressional districts and, as always, they award delegates proportionally. The four big prizes are District 1 (10 delegates), District 2 (14 delegates), District 13 (nine delegates), and District 14 (nine delegates).
Districts 1, 2, and 13 are in the Philadelphia area. Districts 1 and 2 are largely African American population centers in the downtown areas of the city and should go overwhelmingly for Clinton.
District 13 covers the eastern part of Montgomery County, a Philadelphia suburb, and has a population that is 87% white. So Sanders should do well here if current trends are any indication.
The 14th District, meanwhile, covers the Pittsburgh area and some of the city’s suburbs. While it is a majority white district, African Americans do make up nearly a quarter of the population. This is a district Clinton won in 2008 over Obama but it will be a little tougher this time around given the district population of white voters. It is also home to the University of Pittsburgh where students are likely to vote overwhelmingly for Sanders.
Polling: As with Maryland, every poll shows Clinton with a double digit lead. The RealClearPolitics average of polls has her +16 over Sanders.
Pennsylvania: Down Ballot
One of the more intriguing down ballot races this year is for the Democratic Party nomination for Senate.
The race is between former Navy Admiral, two-term Congressman, and 2010 Senate candidate Joe Sestak and Katie McGinty, who served as an environmental advisor to former President Bill Clinton, was secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, and most recently served as Chief of Staff to Pennsylvania’s new Gov. Tom Wolf; who she ran against in the 2014 democratic primary.
Joe Sestak seems like the perfect candidate to take on vulnerable incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey this year. He is a military guy, who is center left, and nearly beat Toomey in the GOP wave year of 2010; he lost by only two points.
Yet despite all of these qualities, the party establishment, including President Obama, is doing everything in their power to take Sestak out. Enter McGinty.
Sestak is a guy who marches to the beat of his own drum. He resisted suggestions from party bosses during his 2010 race, and more recently, efforts by the party to control his interview process for campaign managers. Add in the fact he ran against, and defeated incumbent democratic Sen. Arlen Specter in the 2010 primary, and you can see why he may frustrate some party loyalists.
But it also begs the question why they are trying to defeat him so badly when their alternative is a relatively unknown candidate who finished fourth in the gubernatorial primary in 2014. It stands to reason that a guy who barely lost in a horrible year for his party has a very good chance of prevailing in a year where there will be presidential level turnout in a mostly blue state.
The party has spent a lot of money trying to build up McGinty and it might finally be starting to pay off. Sestak has led McGinty for most of the year, but three recent polls have been released over the last week have showed a shift towards McGinty. One showed the race tied; the other two showed McGinty with a five to six point lead.
Democrats better hope they know what they are doing here. They need to pick up four seats to take back the majority in the Senate; four seats is contingent on Hillary Clinton winning the White House.
Pennsylvania, given is blue lean in presidential years, is there for the taking. And yet the party may throw it away due to some fairly ridiculous personal beefs with Sestak.
Keep an eye on this race tonight.
Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island
Connecticut: Closed Primary; Polls close at 8:00 p.m. EST
Delegate Allocation & Thresholds: 71 total delegates available: 55 pledged delegates; 16 unpledged superdelegates. 36 awarded by district; 19 awarded statewide; 15% threshold to receive delegates at either the state or district level.
Delaware: Closed Primary; Polls close at 8:00 p.m. EST
Delegate Allocation & Thresholds: 31 total delegates available: 21 pledged delegates; 10 unpledged superdelegates. 14 awarded by district; 7 awarded statewide; 15% threshold to receive delegates at either the state or district level.
Rhode Island: Modified Primary. Independents can choose to vote in the primary so long as they affiliate with Democrats thereafter; Polls close at 8:00 p.m. EST
Delegate Allocation & Thresholds: 33 total delegates available: 24 pledged delegates; 9 unpledged superdelegates. 15 awarded by district; 9 awarded statewide; 15% threshold to receive delegates at either the state or district level.
Polling: Unlike in Maryland or Pennsylvania, polls show a closer race in these three states. Clinton, on average, still leads in all three, however.
Her largest lead is in Delaware, where the most recent poll shows her up by seven points. Clinton also has a solid five point lead in Connecticut.
Rhode Island is a state that may be trending the other way. A recent PPP poll showed Sanders with a four point lead there.
So these states are still relative toss-ups going into tonight. Although, as I have stated before, even if Sanders picks off Rhode Island and either Delaware or Connecticut, he will still get overwhelmed by Clinton’s big wins in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
In the interest of time, and quite frankly, interest, I won’t go into great detail about the republican contests going on tonight. To check out the rules of each state election, go to The Green Papers website. It is a great site and will give you in-depth details on the contests in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island.
Simply put, Donald Trump is widely expected to sweep all five states tonight; dealing another body blow to the Stop Trump movement.
Ted Cruz and John Kasich are trying out a strategic alliance by pulling out of states where the other is running strong. In theory, this will allow the other candidate to win enough delegates in the state and stop Trump from getting the delegates he needs to lock up the nomination.
I will say this strategy is a great idea. Six months ago.
It could work at the end of the day. But they have their work cut out for them. And a Trump sweep tonight will only make their hill a little steeper to climb.