Five voter sentiments gleaned from Maryland's midterm election

Here are five sentiments voters expressed in Tuesday’s midterm election, in which Gov. Larry Hogan became the first Republican governor to win re-election in Maryland since the 1950s, despite widespread antipathy toward President Donald Trump.

1. Maryland voters still don’t like Trump.

Trump lost the state by a wide margin in 2016 en route to winning the presidency, and many Maryland voters Tuesdays expressed their disdain for him again two years later. After casting his ballot in Baltimore County, voter Jerry Fleming said, “The country has always been great and Republicans are not making it great.” He’d voted for a straight ticket of Democrats.

Democratic candidate for Governor Ben Jealous tried to leverage anti-Trump sentiment into votes. At an appearance Tuesday he said: “Voting for me is the best way to send Donald Trump a message. … If you want to send a message to Donald Trump, send a civil rights leader to be your next governor.”

2018 Maryland Midterm Election Results »

2. In spite of his efforts to put distance between himself and Trump, Hogan ended up losing votes because of widespread hostility toward the president.

Ben Seacrist of Elkridge said there is now a stark divide between Democrats like him and Republicans. "That line in the sand just has me kind of voting out of spite against Republicans," said Seacrist, 28. "I begrudgingly voted all Democrat."

Similarly, 68-year-old Maxine German-Dawkins, who voted in Elkridge, voted a straight Democratic ticket because of her opposition to Trump. And so did Baltimore voter Nate Carper, 41. “I honestly have no problem with [Gov. Larry] Hogan, but I felt I had to vote for [Ben] Jealous to send a message,” he said.

3. Crucially for Hogan, some of the same voters who voiced their disdain for Trumpian values also supported the Republican governor.

Crossover voters such as Bill Healy helped Hogan clinch the election. Healy, a Westminster Democrat, said Trump was on the ballot during this midterm election and that he was “repulsed by Trump’s values.” But at the state level, Healy supported Hogan. He told The Baltimore Sun, “I think generally he has done a reasonably good job, not that I agree with him on everything.”

Albert Parks Sr., 66, a Democrat, said he voted for Hogan but Democrats on the rest of the ballot. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said. “I’m just a Democrat voting Republican — for governor only.”

Hogan summed up his own path to victory Tuesday night: “Tonight in this deep blue state, in this blue year, with a blue wave — it turns out I can surf.”

4. Hogan’s clout might have limits. Voters in both Howard and Baltimore counties liked Hogan, but they didn’t vote for the county executives endorsed by him.

Both Al Redmer Jr., the Republican candidate for Baltimore County executive, and Allan Kittleman, the incumbent in Howard County, had been endorsed by Hogan.

Perhaps suggesting limits to Hogan’s clout in deep-blue Maryland, both candidates lost to their Democratic challengers. Redmer lost by a wide margin to Democratic candidate Johnny Olszewski Jr., while Kittleman was unseated by Democratic Howard County Councilman Calvin Ball.

Jerome North of Towson, voting at Stoneleigh Elementary School, said he was splitting his ticket this year. He supported Hogan in the gubernatorial election but was voting for Olszewski in the executive race.

Similarly, Robert Stendal of Towson voted for Olszewski and Hogan. They are both politicians who can work with both sides of the political aisle, Stendal said.

5. Voters think voting should be easy.

The majority of Maryland voters supported a measure to allow people to register to vote on Election Day.

Robert Trust of Pasadena said he hopes the ease of voting and the internet will change the low voter turnout, in which less than half of the country’s voting-eligible population typically turns out to vote in midterm elections. “Some countries have 90 percent turnout,” he said. “We have a very weak turnout. I think it’s going to change now.”

ctkacik@baltsun.com

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Baltimore Sun reporters Michael Dresser, Pamela Wood, Catherine Rentz, Doug Donovan, Jeff Barker and Colin Campbell contributed to this article.

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