BERLIN — In Tuesday’s general election, the lower shore continued its long-standing traditions of bucking statewide and nationwide trends and stayed close to its Republican roots in nearly every race.
While President Barack Obama edged Republican challenger Mitt Romney by mere percentage points nationally, the presidential race was hardly an issue in the traditionally Democratic state of Maryland, but Worcester and Wicomico counties bucked the statewide trend as it has for decades. In Maryland, Obama received nearly 62 percent of the vote, largely from the populous districts in the center of the state.
In Worcester, however, it was Romney winning in a runaway, with 58 percent voting for the Republican challenger compared to just 40 percent for the incumbent president. The divide was even more pronounced this year than in the 2008 presidential election when 57 percent of Worcester’s electorate voted for Republican John McCain compared to 42 percent for Obama. In every presidential election dating back to 1988, which is as far back as readily available on the state’s Board of Elections website, Worcester County voters have gone Republican in presidential elections.
Over in Wicomico, a similar trend has played out in recent years. A little over 52 percent of Wicomico voters punched Romney’s name this week compared to 45 percent for Obama. Wicomico also picked McCain over Obama in 2008 and has voted for the Republican candidate for president in every race since at least 1988.
The outcome appears to be somewhat of an anomaly as the majority of the voters in Worcester are registered Democrat, but continue to vote Republican although the gap is narrow. In Worcester, there are 14,997 registered Democrats, compared to 14,423 registered Republicans. The gap is wider in Wicomico where 25,474 voters are registered Democrat compared to 20,655 Republicans.
The trend played out in the other major races this week in Worcester. Democratic U.S. Senate incumbent Ben Cardin garnered 55 percent of the vote in Maryland on Tuesday, compared to 27 percent for Republican Dan Bongino and 17 percent for independent candidate Rob Sobhani. In Worcester, however, Bongino won with 42 percent, compared to 37 percent for Bongino and 21 percent for Sobhani. In Wicomico, Cardin (40 percent) edged Bongino (37 percent), while Sobhani collected 21 percent of the vote.
Republican incumbent Andy Harris retained his First Congressional District seat by a comfortable margin in Maryland and across the Lower Shore. In what was somewhat of an odd race, Democratic primary winner Wendy Rosen was later disqualified over alleged voting infractions, but her name had already been officially added to the ballot and remained on the ticket on Tuesday. The state’s Democratic party then chose Eastern Shore physician John LaFerla to carry the party’s banner against Harris, but he could only be voted in as a write-in candidate.
As a result, Harris easily cruised to victory on Tuesday. Harris gained 61 percent of the vote in Worcester, compared to 27 percent for the disqualified Rosen. LaFerla got no write-in votes in Worcester. In Wicomico, Harris gained 55 percent of the vote, compared to 33 percent for Rosen.
In the statewide referendum questions, the Lower Shore counties followed Maryland’s lead in some cases and bucked the trend in others.
While Marylanders supported Question 4, the public university tuition question, 58 percent to 42, Worcester voters rejected the bill with 12,414 voting against compared to 10,859 in favor. In Wicomico, 18,416 voted for the DREAM bill, compared to the 17,713 who voted against.
With Question 5, which dealt with congressional redistricting, 63 percent of Maryland voters went in favor of the bill compared to 35 percent against. In Worcester, 14,427 voters were in favor of Question 5, while 7,265 were against. In Wicomico, a resounding 23,916 voters were in favor of Question 5, compared to just 9,910 against.
Question 6, the same-sex marriage bill, was clearly a hot button issue and another example of where the Lower Shore counties bucked the statewide trend and vowed standard conservative principles. Across Maryland, 52 percent voted for the same-sex marriage bill compared to 48 percent against. In Worcester, 13,746 voters were against the same-sex marriage bill while just 9,833 voted for the legislation. In Wicomico, 22,487 voters said no to same-sex marriage, while 14,443 were in favor of the legislation.
Question 7, which dealt with an expansion of gaming in Maryland, was one question where just about all areas of the state agreed. Statewide, 52 percent were in favor, while 48 percent were against. In Worcester, 13,109 voted for Question 7, with 11,030 against. In Wicomico, 19,960 voted for Question 7, while 17,247 said no to gambling expansion.
With a highly contested presidential election and several weighty referendum questions on the ballot, turnout was strong across Maryland and in Worcester and Wicomico. In Worcester, 36,074 voters turned out, representing 68 percent, while in Wicomico, 56,426 turned out, also 68 percent. The statewide average was 69 percent.