Is Democrats' voter edge eroding? ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

October 26, 1992

More Marylanders -- 67.7 percent of the voting-age population -- have registered to vote a week from tomorrow than at any time since the 1984 general election.

And while Republicans have been steadily increasing the number of their registered voters in many jurisdictions, including in Anne Arundel County, Maryland still has more than twice as many registered Democrats (1.5 million) as registered Republicans (717,703). Moreover, the pace of Democratic registration quickened demonstrably after the two parties' national conventions this summer.

If the high registration numbers result in equally high voter participation, Maryland could witness one of the heaviest turnouts since the 1960 presidential duel between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon.

The Nov. 3 general election will be particularly interesting in Baltimore's suburban counties, where the rise in registered Republicans has been eroding the traditional voting edge Democrats have enjoyed for decades.

Except for Republican Carroll County, no formerly majority Democratic jurisdiction has gone Republican in registration so far. Nor do they seem to be close to doing so, even though Democratic majorities keep getting slimmer.

Anne Arundel County is a good example.

In 1988, Democrats still enjoyed an advantage of 40,000 registered voters over the GOP in Anne Arundel. That lead has narrowed by a fifth, to 31,453. During the same time, the Democratic advantage in Harford County slimmed almost that much, from 20,686 more registered voters to 17,083.

Similar trends can be detected in Baltimore and Howard counties, although registered Democrats still significantly outnumber Republicans.

Baltimore City is a peculiar case. The city has lost so many residents that, despite frantic -- and successful -- voter registration efforts, it has more than 43,000 fewer Democrats this year than in 1988. Meanwhile, the number of Republicans registered to vote has remained virtually constant. They remain heavily outnumbered in the city by a nearly 9-1 margin.

Party affiliation in registration figures may not matter much, however. What matters is the decision each Anne Arundel voter makes Nov. 3.

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