Who’s leading Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial contest?

Wes Moore and Tom Perez are running for Maryland governor

Who are the Democrats currently leading Maryland’s 2022 Democratic gubernatorial primary contest?

But wait, it’s the summertime before the 2022 primary election. Isn’t it too soon to speculate on who’s up and who’s down?

Louis Jacobson, a U.S. News and World Report contributor, ranks Maryland’s governorship as one of the “most vulnerable” to switch political parties in 2022.

“The most vulnerable governorship on our list is the open seat in deep-blue Maryland that moderate Republican Larry Hogan is vacating,” Jacobson wrote.

“Deep-blue Maryland?”

Larry Hogan’s election proved that while Democrats outnumber Republicans in terms of voter registration, the state is hardly “deep-blue.”

Jacobson’s June 28 column elevates four of the nine declared Maryland Democrats into a “top tier:”

  • Former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker (ran and lost in the 2018 Democratic primary);
  • Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot;
  • F0rmer nonprofit executive Wes Moore;
  • Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.

“For now, the top tier of declared candidates in the Democratic field appears to be Wes Moore, a veteran and former nonprofit executive; Rushern Baker, the former Prince George’s County executive who lost the 2018 gubernatorial primary; state Comptroller Peter Franchot; and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez,” Jacobs0n writes.

Currently, no Democratic women are running for Maryland governor in 2022.

What’s Jacobson’s methodology when handicapping political races?

Jacobson uses his reporting to analyze political races around the country.

He says he uses a “variety of sources in each state.”

“That’s the case here,” Jacobson said, in response to A Miner Detail‘s email requesting information about how the columnist determined candidate rankings in the 2022 Maryland Democratic gubernatorial contest.

Jacobson said he doesn’t reveal his sources when he handicaps political races.

“I can’t share the names of the folks I interviewed, Jacobson said, though his sources assessments “could be wrong or incomplete,” he added.

Jacobson said he spoke to more than one source when handicapping Maryland’s 2022 Democratic gubernatorial contest.

Whomever Jacobson’s sources are, he says they are “consistent.”

What the polls tell us now about Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial contest 

What polls?

Only one poll has been released to date – as of July 10 – that tests the 2022 Democratic contenders’ standing.

In May, Gonzales Research & Media Services, a Maryland-based polling company, polled 301 likely Democratic primary voters about the nine men running for governor.

The poll ran from May 17 to May 22. It had a 5.8 statistical margin of error.

FFS, a statistics lesson?

A Miner Detail‘s Ryan Miner has to prove to the astute readers of this Maryland politics blog that the B- he barely squeaked out in Dr. Tefu‘s MBA statistics class is worth the headache and loss of hair.

You didn’t sign up for a statistics lesson- and you don’t deserve it.

(But you could sign up for A Miner Detail’s weekly Maryland politics newsletter that will launch August 1.)

Polling Key Terms 

Population

A population is simply a group of people pollsters poll.

Take a poll – any poll!

Ask 1000 Sopranos megafans if Tony Soprano was whacked in the show’s final episode, “Made in America.” Then poll the same Sopranos fans on how many years Phil Leotardo did in the can. Happy polling.

In Gonzales’ poll, Maryland Democratic primary voters are his population.

Sample Size 

A poll’s sample size is the number of people polled within a population.

Mr. Gonzales’ May 2021 poll included a sample size of 301 likely Democratic primary voters.

Is the poll’s sample size – 301 voters – a little, a lot – or doesn’t it matter?

Consider Maryland’s registered voters.

As of May 2021, Maryland’s State Board of Elections reported 4,124,038 registered Maryland voters.

  • 2,261,375 registered Democrats;
  • 1,002,325 registered Republicans;
  • 793,429 registered Unaffiliated;
  • 25,408 voters fall into the everybody else category.

Three hundred one people is a small sample size.

Margin of Error 

A poll’s margin of error measures a pollster’s confidence in their polling methodology, and the number of Maryland Democratic primary voters polled directly impacts the poll’s margin of error.

A pollster wouldn’t ask every Maryland Democratic primary voter to rank their favorite gubernatorial candidate.

Instead, pollsters like Mr. Gonzales would survey only a sample of Maryland Democratic primary voters to determine the standing of the Democratic gubernatorial contest as a snapshot in time.

More importantly, the more Maryland Democratic primary voters pollsters include within their samples, the smaller their poll’s margin of error, presumably.

“The margin of error is the price pollsters pay for not talking to everyone in the population they are targeting,” says the American Association for Public Opinion Research.

Thus, the poll’s margin of error decreases as the sample size increases.

Are pollsters confident in the data they collect from voters?

Hopefully.

But the data collected from Democratic primary voters is expected to vary slightly from sample to sample.

Polling, you should know, is not an actual science.

But pollsters use the scientific method, don’t they?

Yes, sort of.

But try solving an equation with multiple variables. You can’t solve an equation with multiple variables. You can, however, converge on the best answer.

Pollsters measure accuracy amid sample populations.

Add a bookie into the mix, and now you’re gambling. Just don’t get indebted to the mob. Word to the wise: Remember Davey Scatino.

Consider that humans conduct polling; human beings are pollsters’ respondents, and Homo sapiens are fallible.

People frequently lie or mislead pollsters, and sometimes people may misunderstand pollsters’ questions. Disreputable pollsters and politically biased pollsters tend to craft leading questions to present an untruthful reality to voters.

Think about internal polls.

Internal polls may be agenda-driven polls conducted by political campaigns absent reputable pollsters or polling firms.

Candidates presenting internal polls to their supporters are often guilty of manufacturing narratives unreflective of reality.

Journalists, reporters and bloggers alike should hit the delete button immediately when a candidate’s campaign communications director e-blasts breaking internal polls.

More on the margin of error & a poll’s confidence interval 

Mr. Gonzales randomly selected 301 Maryland Democratic primary voters and surveyed them about the 2022 Democratic gubernatorial contenders.

Hypothetically speaking, what if Mr. Gonzales randomly selected 301 additional Democratic primary voters to poll, using the same polling methodology (the same questions, etc.)?

And what would happen if Mr. Gonzales repeated the same process 98 additional times?

Mr. Gonzales would have 100 samples, though the data collected from each voter sample would vary slightly.

If a poll’s margin of error is three percentage points with a 95% confidence interval, 95 of the samples the pollster surveyed should fall within three percentage points of the true answer.

Got that?

In polling, confidence levels are often tested at 90%, 95%, or 99%.

The pollster should be confident in their poling methodology; otherwise, their credibility suffers.

Bottom line: Mr. Gonzales’ May 2021 poll, while fun to discuss, is infinitesimally insignificant, especially this early in the Democratic primary race.

Maryland’s 2022 primary is slated for June 28, 2022.

Have you had your fill of statistics for the day? Thanks for hanging in there.

Maryland Democratic primary voters mostly undecided 

Jacobson’s column links Maryland Matters’ June story that reports the data collected from Gonzales’ May 2021 poll.

According to Gonzales’ survey results, a large share of Democratic primary voters – 41.2% – are undecided on a gubernatorial candidate.

13 months before a primary?

No forums, no debates, little retailing, no Tawes, no MACo Summer Conference, nothing.

No wonder nearly half of Maryland’s Democratic primary electorate is undecided on their top 2022 gubernatorial pick.

“The poll tested the nine men who are already running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination or are likely to join the race,” Maryland Matters reported.

The Results 

Double digits: Above 10%

  • Rushern Baker, the former Prince George’s County executive and the runner-up in the 2018 Democratic primary led the poll with 21.9% of the vote;
  • Peter Franchot, Maryland’s four-term comptroller, was slightly behind Baker at 17.9%.
  • Tom Perez, who hadn’t declared his candidacy at the time Gonzales conducted his poll, was locked in at 10.3%;

Above 1%

  • Doug Gansler, a former state attorney general who ran for governor in 2014 but finished second in the primary, sat at 3.7%.
  • Wes Moore, a former foundation CEO and author, came in at 2%.

1%

  • John King, a former U.S. Education secretary under Barack Obama;
  • Jon Baron, a former Clinton administration official and nonprofit executive;
  • Michel Rosenbaum, a Baltimore tech entrepreneur.

Below 1%

  • Ashwani Jain, a former Obama official, sat at 0.3%.

Does Wes Moore have Maryland establishment support?

Louis Jacobson seems to believe so.

Of the nine Democratic gubernatorial candidates, Jacobson wrote that “Moore, despite his lack of electoral experience, has made the deepest inroads in securing establishment support.”

Who is the Maryland Democratic Party establishment? 

Is the Maryland Democratic establishment the Democratic Party of Maryland’s elected officers and county central committee members?

Is the Democratic establishment U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Maryland’s all-male Democratic congressional delegation?

Is the Democratic establishment House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) and Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City)?

Is the Maryland Democratic establishment the House and Senate majority leaders and their deputies?

Is the Democratic establishment the wealthy Democratic donors?

All of the groups mentioned above – and the elected Democratic officials and the activists – could easily qualify as card-carrying members of Maryland’s Democratic establishment.

Remember, Jacobson spoke to more than one Maryland political source – he won’t name his sources (fair enough)- when he wrote his June 28 blurb on Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial contest.

Sure, Mr. Moore, a military combat veteran and former nonprofit executive, is seemingly running a spirited campaign by the looks of his social media accounts.

But whom among the so-called Maryland Democratic establishment has Mr. Moore secured as backers of his gubernatorial bid?

Unless Montgomery County Councilman Will Jawando (D) – an anti-police, first-term councilmember with almost no presence outside of Montgomery County – qualifies as Maryland’s Democratic establishment, from whom is Moore earning establishment support?

Mr. Jawando endorsed Moore’s campaign on June 23.

Moore’s campaign website is limited to a fundraising landing page with little information about his background. His current website contains no information about his endorsements, nor does it list his policy agenda.

What’s more, Moore’s regular campaign email blasts are mostly littered with fundraising appeals and occasional personal anecdotes.

A Miner Detail is supremely curious which Maryland Democratic establishment figures are backing Moore’s campaign.

Despite Peter Franchot’s on-again/off-again relationship with the General Assembly’s Democratic leaders, the comptroller’s gubernatorial campaign has earned the most endorsements from former and current elected Maryland officials.

Do the Democratic gubernatorial candidates even want the Democratic establishment’s support? 

Probably yes, maybe sometimes.

You’ll see many of the Democratic gubernatorial contenders rail against “politics-as-usual,” or the establishment.

The candidates may alter their stump speeches ever-so-slightly, depending upon the audience’s political leanings.

Nothing shocking or new here.

Many of the candidates will eschew shadowy establishment figures on a Monday, pandering to the populist, self-righteous Takoma Park Hogan-hating do-gooders.

Incidentally, these inflexible progressive fundamentalists candidates pander to are the same stubborn political  insiders (yes, they are the insiders) who still believe if Anthony Brown had only gone further to the left in the general election, he would have beaten Larry Hogan.

No matter their good intent, pragmatic they are not.

But even the gubernatorial progressives need the uber net worth establishment types.

One call to Susie Turnbull and these gubernatorial hopefuls on a Tuesday are rolling out $5000-a-plate fundraiser invites, featuring some high-profile national Democratic figure who couldn’t find Williamsport and Willards on an iPhone map app even if they tried.

Rushern Baker’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign locked up what most political insiders and pundits would call the Maryland Democratic establishment.

Progressive primary voters, however, chose to lose the 2018 gubernatorial contest with their heads held high, nominating one of their own to lead the cashless uphill battle against the popular, well-funded Hogan.

And remember Anthony Brown’s 2014 gubernatorial bid?

How could Mr. Brown possibly lose the race with the Martin O’Malley political machine carrying him to a glorious victory? Then-Lt. Gov. Brown had the Democratic establishment in line, eager to notch a win on their proverbial belts.

But Maryland general election voters had a different plan.

They instead chose to elect and re-elect Republican Larry Hogan, now routinely considered one of America’s most popular governors, despite Kirill Reznik‘s antipathy.

Even Peter Franchot, a 34-year veteran of Maryland elected politics, opted not to endorse Maryland’s 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Ben Jealous, because of his bipartisan and friendly working relationship with Mr. Hogan.

Does Wes Moore even need the Democratic establishment’s support to win the primary?

Ben Jealous didn’t

Should we return to another statistics lesson to measure the establishment’s winning track record?

That’s for another day.


Ryan Miner is the Editor, Founder and Publisher of A Miner Detail, a leading Maryland politics blog featuring Maryland political news, political commentary and opinion. 

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Ryan Miner is the Editor in Chief, Founder, Senior Political Reporter and Publisher of A Miner Detail. He is the host of A Miner Detail Podcast.
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