Lack of party competition making Maryland blue? -- Gazette.Net


Maryland misses out by not being a presidential battleground state, according to some political analysts.

Although the state’s residents might not mind being overlooked when it comes to a barrage of TV commercials for presidential candidates, they do lose out on some important political and economic benefits.

“We don’t get the campaign visits, we don’t get the attention, and we don’t get the money being spent here,” said Todd E. Eberly, political science professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

“Millions of millions of dollars are being spent by the campaigns in Virginia,” Eberly said. In addition to direct spending from campaigns in competitive states, the races bring in reporters, field workers and others who stay in hotels and eat at local restaurants, leaving money in the state, he said.

Studies also have shown nonbattleground states tend to have lower voter turnout, Eberly said.

But state Democrats and Republicans say their presidential campaigns are active despite Maryland being listed as solidly in President Barack Obama’s camp.

State GOP spokesman David Ferguson went so far as to say former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s debate performance on Oct. 3 was so strong that Maryland, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-1 margin, could be in play for his party in November.

“I believe he has a good chance in Maryland after last night’s performance,” Ferguson said the day after the debate. “He took Barack Obama to school. It was like teacher versus student.”

About 100 people turned out on a recent weekend in Baltimore County to canvass voters for Romney and Republican candidates down ticket, Ferguson said.

Democrats also are turning out to do fieldwork for the Obama campaign in Maryland and are volunteering to staff phone banks, calling voters in North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania, said Maryland Democratic Party spokesman Matt Verghese.

That is not counting the estimated hundreds of Marylanders who volunteer each weekend in neighboring swing states, Verghese said.

Maryland’s presidential campaign has meaning for both parties, particularly the Republicans, to help down-ticket races, said Adam Hoffman, director of the Institute of Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Salisbury University.

“It matters to a burgeoning Republican Party,” Hoffman said. “The Republican Party needs to build its brand, so if you have a candidate like Romney they think will bring out more Republicans it’ll help the down-ticket races.”

But with the Democratic registration advantage and a sizeable minority population that favors the Democrats, Romney does not have a realistic chance of winning Maryland, Hoffman said.

“You need something more than one winning debate [to go] from turning Maryland blue to red or even purple,” Hoffman said.