More Marylanders -- 67.7 percent of the voting-age population -- have registered to vote a week from tomorrow than at any time since the 1984 general election.
And while Republicans have been steadily increasing the number of registered voters in many jurisdictions, including in Carroll County, Maryland still has more than twice as many registered Democrats (1.5 million) as registered Republicans (717,703). Moreover, the pace of Democratic registration quickened demonstrably after the two parties' national conventions this summer.
If the high registration numbers result in equally high voter participation, Maryland could witness one of the heaviest turnouts since the 1960 presidential duel between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon. This year's election will be particularly interesting in the suburbs of Baltimore, where the number of registered Republicans has been eroding the traditional voting edge Democrats have enjoyed for decades.
Carroll County is unique among Baltimore metropolitan jurisdictions. In the past four years, Republicans have overtaken Democrats in registration and now hold an advantage of 2,867 voters. In other counties, Republicans are gaining, yet are still nowhere near the point of reaching the Democratic registration levels.
Neighboring Howard County is an example. The Democratic lead in voter registration there has narrowed slightly from 15,719 in 1988 to 14,828 this year.
In Harford County, Democrats enjoyed an advantage of 20,686 registered voters over the GOP four years ago; that edge has been cut 17 percent, to 17,083. In the same period, the Democratic advantage in Anne Arundel County narrowed 21 percent, from 40,000 voters to 31,453.
Baltimore City is a peculiar case. The city has lost so many residents that, despite frantic -- and successful -- registration efforts, it has more than 43,000 fewer Democrats this year than in 1988. Meanwhile, the number of Republicans registered to vote has remained virtually constant. They are still very much in the minority, though. The Democrats' registration margin in the city is nearly 9-1.
Yet party affiliation in registration figures may not matter much. What matters is the decision each Carroll County voter makes Nov. 3.