For months, Democrat Ben Jealous’ campaign for governor has publicly predicted a “blue wave” of turnout from progressive voters that will sweep Republican Gov. Larry Hogan out of office.
But on a recent media call with reporters, the campaign said its own models indicate that registered Democrats will make up just 57 percent of voters by Election Day. That would be a slight bump from the last gubernatorial election four years ago but hardly a dramatic “wave.”
That’s the same percentage of Democrats that cast ballots when Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley won the office in 2006. But it’s also the same percentage of Democrats who were in the electorate when Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich won in 2002 — and it’s only 3 percentage points more than when Democrats made up 54 percent of the electorate during Hogan’s win in 2014.
Recent polls have shown Jealous losing by double-digits to Hogan with electorates about as blue as Jealous’ campaign predicts Maryland’s will be on Election Day on Nov. 6.
A recent Gonzales Research poll had Hogan beating Jealous by 18 percentage points with a model of an electorate in which 55 percent are Democrats. Goucher College’s recent poll had Hogan up by 22 points with an electorate in which 61 percent are Democrats.
Hogan campaign manager Jim Barnett said in an email he believes Jealous will need a “massive blue wave” in which Democrats make up around 71 percent of the electorate to defeat Hogan, who is capturing more than one-third of Democrats’ votes in polls.
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Barnett called an electorate that contains 57 percent Democrats “not unreasonable” for reliably blue Maryland.
But he said it’s “an admission that a blue wave of Democratic turnout, as they define it, cannot change the outcome of the race. In fact, they must attract much more actual support from voters than they are currently getting.”
Jealous campaign manager Travis Tazelaar said the Democrats plan to do just that.
Tazelaar said the Democrats are aiming to replicate the electorate the lifted O’Malley to victory when he got more than 1 million votes in 2010.
Tazelaar said the campaign aims for turnout to increase by about 20 percent from four years ago and to keep Hogan’s share of Democrats’ votes to less than 30 percent. He said the campaign doesn’t believe polling that shows Hogan getting nearly 40 percent of Democrats’ votes.
“Over and over and over again, we see that the polling is just wrong,” Tazelaar said. “A lot of our Democrats are being introduced to Ben Jealous even now. I expect those Democrats will come home by Election Day.”