Walking in The National Floodlights
Last week a small political phenomena occurred – Maryland actually was "in play" for the GOP on the national scene. Three of the four remaining presidential candidates visited the Old Line State, and Maryland Republicans, for a brief instant, played a defining role in national GOP politics.
What was Maryland's role in the Romney trifecta of April 3, 2012? Here are a few observations:
· The other three contenders conceded Maryland before Primary Election Day. I was personally disappointed. Finally Maryland has a chance to host national candidates and all of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's challengers made their visits short and sweet... or not at all. (Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum missed us by eight miles.)
· Maryland was the grain of sand that tipped the national scale. Governor Romney won by 20 points and captured all 37 delegates. Those delegates put him over the halfway point to the nomination and served to widen his lead over his opponents.
· Maryland's exit polls showed that Governor Romney won in almost every demographic cross section on his way to a 49.2% victory. It was the first state where he polled above Senator Santorum in all income bracket demographics and with those who identified themselves as very conservative or Tea Party supporters. Perhaps we are leading the way in congealing the party behind one nominee – or perhaps it is just people resigning themselves to the inevitable. Who knows?
· All of the convention delegates and alternates, who were Romney designees, won handily. A total sweep across the board – 48 total races – none close. The true significance of this mark is that relatively unknown candidates beat many of our current elected officials for these positions. A sign that primary election voters are educated enough to know they need to vote for both the nominee for president and the person designated as their delegate.
· Governor Romney wins 22 or 24 jurisdictions. Senator Santorum won only Garrett and Somerset counties: Somerset, one of our smallest counties, by 11%; and Garrett, our only county firmly in the Pittsburgh media market, by 18%. Senator Santorum's total votes in the counties he won did not equal the votes Governor Romney got in Allegany County alone.
So, what is the takeaway on this exercise?
Maryland GOP voting population is predictable. They see Governor Romney as a candidate who has never worked in Washington. They, like the rest of the nation, have a low opinion of the inside-the-DC-Beltway crowd and are looking for something different.
Maryland citizens, according to polling demographics, have some of the highest average incomes and are among the most highly educated. I believe Maryland Republicans have more of a desire to win on a national arena than most states due to the fact we rarely win here on a statewide basis. That said – we wanted to be connected to the presumptive winner.
Maryland GOP voters are smarter than we think, especially the hardcore primary voter. They understand for whom to vote and the fact that it is the delegates who select the presidential nominee at the convention. They proved that...once again.
The insider game of moving against the "establishment" or "establishment candidate" is just that – an insider game. There is no ground swell of Maryland's GOP population, or Maryland primary voters, to enact vast change within the party. Perhaps it could even be presumed that there are only a few squeaky wheels, otherwise the vote totals in the election would have been, at minimum, closer.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (GA), Senator Santorum and Rep. Ron Paul (TX) are all great Americans. I have lots of respect for them. The demands and stress of a national campaign are unimaginable to me. They have brought ideas, conversation and controversy to the political nomination table – and that is healthy for the Republican Party. They deserve recognition.
Each of these men knows the race is coming around the clubhouse turn and the finish line is getting closer. Concessions will begin the week of April 24th and the GOP will be marching strong and united into Tampa with the sole purpose or defeating President Barack Obama in November.
Last week Maryland had its 15 minutes of GOP fame. Now we will be forgotten once again. Seated at the back of the Republican National Convention with the other small "blue" states. But, hey! It was fun while it lasted.