Baltimore County

Clinton wins locally, but Trump prevails in steelworks communities

Democrat Hillary Clinton may have lost the nationwide presidential electoral vote to Republican Donald Trump (in a huge upset), but at local polling places Clinton came out far ahead.

That's not surprising since Maryland remains a decidedly Democratic state in presidential elections, and Baltimore County leans heavily in that direction, too.


Clinton took 55 percent of the county's vote compared to Trump's 39 percent. This was a better showing by Trump than in his statewide totals, where he gained only 35 percent of voter preference.

The reason: Eastern Baltimore County — the blue-collar steelworks communities centered around Dundalk, Middle River and Sparrows Point — have turned into rabid Trump territory. Trump even paid a visit in September to Dundalk's popular Boulevard Diner (he ate a burger, fries and a crab cake).


Republicans started this area's Trump revolution in 2014 when they swept out every Democratic officeholder in the eastern end of Baltimore County. This year, Trump performed beautifully in those polling places.

But the outcome of countywide voting is no longer determined by the east-side precincts, which have seen big population losses. Baltimore County's growth is centered on the west side — Owings Mills, Liberty Road, Woodlawn and Catonsville.

There's a heavy concentration of middle-class, African-American families on the west side — a core base of Clinton support. Their overwhelming numbers in favor of the Democratic presidential nominee (above 95 percent) provided her with more than enough votes to overcome Clinton's deficits on the east side of the county.

The same scenario played out in the race for U.S. Senate, where Democrat Chris Van Hollen easily swept by Republican Kathy Szeliga. Her local ties didn't help her much in the vote totals.

Szeliga, who lives in Perry Hall and represents a chunk of Baltimore and Harford counties in the Maryland House of Delegates, fared better than Trump in both Baltimore County (by 6 percentage points) and in Maryland (by 4 percentage points).

Overall, Van Hollen won with 60 percent of the statewide vote to Szeliga's 36 percent.

As for Baltimore County's congressional races, none of them were close. The incumbents piled up big victory margins in the portion of their districts within Baltimore County's boundary lines.

All four incumbents representing parts of the county (Democrats John Sarbanes, Dutch Ruppersberger and Elijah Cummings and Republican Andy Harris) piled up big margins. Within the county, Sarbanes received 58 percent of the vote, Ruppersberger 60 percent, Cummings 65 percent and Harris 68 percent.


None of the county ballot questions ran into trouble, either. All 10 of the bond issues won approval with ease. So did the two Circuit Court judges running for full 15-year terms – Kathleen Cox and Keith Truffer.

A referendum on building a giant retail outlet shopping center along I-95 in White Marsh also received strong support from county voters.

The reason Maryland continues to outperform the rest of the nation in its magnitude of Democratic presidential support is that the state's growth in recent decades has been within the Baltimore-Washington corridor.

Much of that growth is within heavily African-American and other minority communities that are solidly Democratic.

While Republicans dominate voting outcomes in rural and exurban parts of Maryland, they are overwhelmed by sheer numbers in the Central Maryland corridor.

For instance, Clinton defeated Trump in this corridor, which stretches from Baltimore County all the way to the Washington suburbs and into Charles County in Southern Maryland, by a staggering 800,000 votes.


That proved easily sufficient to win Maryland for Clinton. She failed, though, to duplicate that feat in enough states elsewhere in the country.

Barry Rascovar's blog is He can be reached at