Hogan 'can surf' and four other takeaways from Maryland's 2018 election

Gov. Larry Hogan cruised to an easy and historic victory Tuesday, but that’s just part of the story of Maryland’s election. Here are five takeaways:

A Democratic “blue wave” washed across Maryland and Hogan was the only high-profile GOP survivor.

Democrats predicted that their voters would flock to the polls to support their candidates, inspired by frustration with President Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress.

While that “blue wave” didn’t help Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous, several Democrats scored key victories.

Baltimore’s three largest suburban counties will be led by Democrats: Johnny Olszewski Jr. in Baltimore County, Steuart Pittman in Anne Arundel County and Calvin Ball in Howard County.

“Tonight in this deep-blue state, in this blue year, with a blue wave, it turns out I can surf,” Hogan said.

Though Hogan won handily, he did not have the coattails that some down-ballot candidates were counting on.

The defeat of his friend and ally Al Redmer Jr. in the Baltimore County executive’s race might sting more than the others. Hogan campaigned with him at multiple events and even recorded a TV commercial with Redmer.

Maryland Republicans fall short of hoped-for gains in Senate, lose seats in House »

The Republicans’ “Drive for Five” to win seats in the state Senate was turned back.

Hogan has power as governor, but he still faces a Democratic-led legislature in Annapolis. Hogan and the Republicans had hoped to gain enough seats in the Senate to break the Democrats’ veto-proof majority, but that fell short.

Republicans had pushed to gain five Senate seats. They are on track to gain just one or two once absentee ballots are counted.

The GOP also lost ground in the House of Delegates, further shrinking their influence in that chamber.

Yet Hogan performed even better than he did in 2014.

Hogan outperformed his own totals from four years ago in jurisdictions across the state – even in the Democratic strongholds.

In Baltimore four years ago, Hogan got 22 percent of the vote. This year, more than 53,000 Baltimoreans voted for the governor — giving him nearly one-third of the vote.

In heavily Democratic Montgomery, he did even better. Hogan got more than 158,000 votes – about 45 percent of the total.

Map: See where Hogan won the vote »

In the deep-red counties on the Eastern Shore and in Western Maryland, Hogan generally grew his already large margins of victory. In four counties — Garrett, Allegany, Queen Anne’s and Caroline — Hogan got more than 80 percent of the vote.

Voters turned out in big numbers.

Turnout increased by nearly a quarter over 2014, with more than 2.1 million Marylanders casting ballots compared with about 1.7 million four years ago.

With about 1.2 million ballots cast in his favor, Hogan got the most votes ever by any Maryland governor, eclipsing former Gov. Martin O’Malley’s record from eight years ago.

Five voter sentiments gleaned from Maryland's midterm election »

Also impressive: In a losing effort, Democrat Ben Jealous garnered more than 900,000 votes — more than Hogan got during his first win and about 100,000 more than the last Democratic nominee for governor, Anthony Brown, got four years ago.

Hogan’s victory recalls the last two-term GOP governor, McKeldin

Hogan’s 56.2 percent of the vote fell just short of the record for a Republican nominee for governor of Maryland — the 57.2 percent attained by Theodore R. McKeldin when he was first elected in 1950.

But unlike McKeldin, Hogan improved his percentage in his re-election campaign. McKeldin received 54.5 percent in 1954, the last year in which a Republican was re-elected as Maryland governor.

Hogan might have done even better had it not been for the unpopularity of President Trump. In Election Day interviews, many Democratic voters said they voted a straight party-line ticket even though they thought Hogan had done a good job.

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