Statewide Republican candidates in Maryland have a huge challenge – having to overcome a vast voter registration disadvantage. How big is the disadvantage? Based on the Maryland Board of Elections, here’s the breakdown by party from 2008:

Democrat: 1,945,311
Republican: 926,399
Unaffilated: 531,472

Based on these numbers, and MD BoE voter turnout numbers, I decided to analyze and try to come up with a path for victory for Republicans. It won’t be easy – and they will need to garner Democratic votes. What follows is my estimate as to how many of them they will need.

For my analysis, I started with the following assumptions:

1. Voter registration is the same as it was in 2008;
2. Voter turnout would be the average of voter turnout from the previous 2 mid-term elections (2002, 2006), which comes to 61% Democratic turnout, 65% Republican turnout and 44% unaffilated turnout;
3. Party voters will support the party’s candidate at a rate of 90% to 10%;
4. Unaffiliated voters will be split between the GOP and Democratic candidate evenly;
5. Third party voters will vote only for third party candidates.

Based on this average baseline – I came up with the following vote percentage for statewide candidates:

Republican candidate: 38%
Democratic candidate: 62%

Lopsided, yes, but not unexpected. But, by all accounts 2010 is looking to be a banner year for Republicans. So, let’s make a few new assumptions in this Republican friendly year:

1. Republican turnout will be boosted 10% from the average of the 2002 / 2006 voter turnout;
2. Unaffiliated voters will support Republicans by a 14% margin over the Democratic candidate;
3. Unaffilated turnout is boosted by 5% from the average of the 2002 / 2006 voter turnout.

Now, based on that breakdown, the statewide Republican candidate gets closer to victory…but not by much. The new percentages are as follows:

Republican candidate: 42%
Demcoratic candidate: 58%

In order to win, any statewide candidate will need to shore up Democratic votes. How many? Based on those previous assumptions – the Republican candidate will need to garner 26% of Democratic votes to win with 51% of the popular vote. Now, will that be difficult to accomplish? You bet. Is it doable? Yes. The question now is which of the announced statewide candidates for office have the cross-party appeal to garner what would amount to approximately 310,000 Democratic votes while still maintaining 90% of Republican voters. I have hopes for Bob Ehrlich for Governor, but time will tell if Rutledge, Wargotz, Campbell, or Madigan can pull that off.

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If you are interested in seeing the numbers firsthand – check out the Excel file I put together here.

Cross-posted from Old Line Elephant