The race for Maryland's open Senate seat is capturing national attention, but when it comes to voter turnout it could wind up as a middle child — buffeted by other contests up and down the ballot.

Just how much influence the Democratic presidential contest between front-runner Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders will have on the feisty Senate race is likely to come down to the result of Tuesday's primary in New York. A close outcome there could drive up interest in Maryland's primary; a blowout for Clinton, by contrast, could depress it.


Maryland's primary is April 26. Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware will vote on the same day. Both Sanders and Clinton and already running advertising in the state.

While voter turnout is usually driven by the top of the ticket, this year's competitive mayoral contest in Baltimore — in which half a dozen candidates have been reaching voters through television advertising — also has the potential to move the numbers in the city.

Most believe a higher turnout in the heavily African-American jurisdiction would benefit Rep. Donna Edwards, who is black, more than rival Rep. Chris Van Hollen.

"They've both invested a lot of time and energy in Baltimore," said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College. "But if African-American turnout in the city is really high, it's going to be a good thing for Donna Edwards."

At the same time, there are competitive congressional contests underway in the House districts Van Hollen and Edwards are leaving behind.

Van Hollen's 8th Congressional District, in particular, has seen a heavy degree of politics, including a self-funded candidate who has spent millions on television and radio ads.

Polling has shown Van Hollen is popular in his Montgomery County-based district, and Edwards is the favorite in her Prince George's County-based district. That has left Baltimore and its suburbs as the battleground in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.

Reports from the first day of early voting on Thursday indicated increases in the number of people casting a ballot over 2014 in Baltimore, Montgomery County and other jurisdictions. But it's impossible to know whether those increases represent greater interest in the election that will result in higher turnout overall, or just that more people are taking advantage of the still relatively new option to vote early.

So how will the various races influence each other?

"Yet to be undetermined," quipped John T. Willis, a professor of government and public policy at the University of Baltimore and a former secretary of state who follows voter trends in Maryland closely.

While there has been a jump in early voting in the city, Willis said, that increase has been driven in part by voting in the city's far northwest — an area that is still heavily influenced by some of the city's most politically engaged Jewish communities.

Maryland's election, Willis noted, falls over the Passover holiday.

"The city," Willis said, "is not monolithic."