Several consequential races in battleground states have yet to be called, but in Maryland, the state’s general election contests were mostly decided Tuesday night.
That’s because Maryland, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans on a 2-to-1 basis, has trended blue for decades, and early and mail-in votes skewed in the favor of Vice President Joe Biden. Altogether, that made Maryland’s 10 electoral delegates relatively easy to call for the vice president.
It could take several days or weeks to finish the nationwide tallies. But here’s what we can glean from Maryland’s returns so far.
No surprises: In Baltimore, Scott, Mosby and Mfume coast
There were no big surprises in Baltimore’s general election races. The city’s contests are usually decided during the primary elections.
Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott, a Democrat, coasted to victory in the city’s mayoral race against several challengers, including the unusually well-funded unaffiliated candidate, Bob Wallace. But the 36-year-old Park Heights native declared victory shortly after 10 p.m., with about 72% of the early and mail-in votes tabulated in his favor.
U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume, a Democrat who took over Maryland’s 7th Congressional District seat via special election earlier this year following the vacancy left by the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, won election to a full term in the districts, which covers parts of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County. He faced a challenge from Republican Kimberly Klacik, whose brash tweets about Baltimore piqued the interest of the president and earned her a speaking spot at the Republican National Convention (and millions of dollars in ensuing donations, many from out-of-state donors).
Del. Nick Mosby won the Baltimore City Council President contest, despite revelations last month that he and his wife, Democratic State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby, owed taxes to the federal government. The IRS placed a $45,000 lien on their property in February. Still, the Democrat bested Republican competitor Jovani Patterson by a wide margin.
Tuesday’s most competitive race in the Baltimore area ended on a positive note in East Baltimore for incumbent Councilman Robert Stokes, who was in good spirits after early returns and mail-in ballot results were posted. The Democrat led Green Party challenger Franca Muller Paz, who had attracted more than $116,000 between July and mid-October, a period during which Stokes did not bring in any donations.
Anne Arundel, Baltimore counties trend blue
In the Baltimore metro area, Democratic and Republican wins in 2016 appeared to strengthen in 2020.
Anne Arundel County flipped from red to blue in 2016, favoring Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by a margin of 2.2 percentage points. On Tuesday, it appeared that trend solidified substantially, as early returns showed Biden leading Trump by a wider margin than Clinton did four years earlier.
In Baltimore County, where Democrats beat Republicans four years ago by more than 17 percentage points, Biden held a wider lead over Trump in the first wave of returns relative to Clinton, as well.
Howard, Carroll and Harford counties' first round of 2020 returns mirrored those of 2016, with Howard strongly trending blue and the last two heavily leaning red.
Outside the metro area, some of the races looked somewhat tighter than they did four years ago, given only the partial results. Frederick County appeared to have flipped from red to blue, with results early Wednesday morning showing Biden with a lead in a county Trump narrowly won four years ago.
Marylanders embrace voting early
Based on the early returns, it’s clear that massive numbers of Marylanders took advantage of the opportunities to vote before Election Day, with more than 2 million ballots returned early or by mail. The access to drop boxes and mail-in ballots increased substantially this year due to the coronavirus and fears of spreading the infectious disease in crowded, indoor spaces and long lines.
Democrats, especially, seemed to favor voting before Nov. 3, with more than 1 million voting early or by mail. Republicans favored voting on Election Day, and slightly fewer than 600,000 voted in advance.
These trends reflect national party preferences toward voting methods.
It’s unclear whether these new methods will be adopted after COVID-19 abates, but there might be a case for continuing the use of drop boxes and widely accessible mail-in ballots given the state’s turnout numbers, which were likely to rival 2016′s, even in the midst of a pandemic.
Overall, Maryland elections officials got the job done
Problems marred Maryland’s primary elections and sent state elections officials into a monthslong scramble to correct June’s mistakes before November.
The primaries saw many ballots arrive late, with some never making it to their destination at all. Ballots were printed incorrectly and with conflicting postage instructions. Long lines formed late into the final evening of voting. And some incorrect results appeared online before disappearing.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan called it an “unmitigated disaster” and ordered a more traditional election in the fall, mandating that people apply for ballots before receiving them in the mail.
It seems that the Maryland State Board of Elections had a less “disastrous” general election, though long lines still formed around the state past 8 p.m. Tuesday. Lines were so long in Calvert County that the last voters at Patuxent High School did not make it inside to vote until 9:30 p.m., delaying the release of statewide returns for hours.
Hogan has yet to weigh in on the Nov. 3 contests.
Canvassing to pause on Wednesday in Maryland
While battleground states across the country will continue to count votes Wednesday, no additional Maryland votes will be counted. Don’t expect Maryland’s returns to shift until Thursday.
Check back here for more official tabulations.
Baltimore Sun reporters Emily Opilo, Jeff Barker, Alison Knezevich, Tim Prudente, Jean Marbella and Daniel Oyefusi contributed to this article.