Some new election data was released Tuesday with absentee and provisional ballots being counted. I had a couple thoughts on the official results.
First, final election numbers confirm interest continues to grow in early voting. According to the State Board of Elections, 661,276 voters turned out during the eight-day early voting period compared to 307,466 in the 2014 gubernatorial election. This year’s early voting numbers were down considerably compared to 2016, however, when President Trump was elected and 874,753 turned out early. Presidential elections generally see much higher turnouts across the country.
Secondly, early voting as well as absentee/provisional results are always interesting to track and compare with the election day totals. Generally, early voting and absentee/provisional results are consistent with the votes seen on election day. For example, the tightest Worcester County Commissioner race was in the south end with District 1 incumbent Merrill Lockfaw losing his seat by a total of 192 votes. Nordstrom swept early voting by 25 votes as well as absentees by nine votes and cruised on election day with a 158-vote margin.
In fact, the results of all but one local race of importance were consistent with the early voting and absentee counts. The local exception would be the hotly contested race for the District 38 Senate seat. Incumbent Jim Mathias held a slight early voting lead, 7,199-6,960, over challenger Mary Beth Carozza. Mathias did even better with absentee/provisional counts, besting Carozza, 1,568-1,361 across the district. However, that early momentum fell apart on election day in a big way when Carozza bested Mathias by 3,000 votes, 17,410-14,331. In the end after every single vote was cast, Carozza scored 53% of the vote, or 25,731, compared to 47 percent for Mathias, or 23,098.
What does all this mean? On one hand, the early voting and absentee tallies should not be weighed heavily because they represent a small sample size of the total votes cast. However, at the risk of being overly analytical, it’s important to remember these votes are cast well in advance of election day. I think an argument can be made the race swung to Carozza over the last week as a result of a late push from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, her campaign mailers over the last week and heavy support for her in Worcester County (which she carried by 2,260 votes) . She had the late momentum heading into election day and it showed in the final results.
The local law enforcement community was hit hard this week when it was learned Salisbury Master Police Officer Aaron “Bull” Hudson had died unexpectedly. Bull was well known throughout Wicomico County as the affable bike cop with an extroverted personality. On several occasions, his larger-than-life personality was behind the funny “Hug-A-Bull” fundraisers for different causes. People would pay to get their pictures taken with Bull as they embraced.
Salisbury Mayor Jake Day was one of many who took to Facebook this week to offer his thoughts.
“From Third Friday to National Night Out to his daily patrol, Bull has been a familiar face within the Salisbury Community who was known for his outgoing personality. He had a charisma that could bring a smile to your face as he brightened the day of all he came into contact with. Officer Hudson embodied the quintessence of what it means to be a public servant as he was more than a government official, he was a liaison helping to strengthen relationships between our community and law enforcement. … In honor of Officer Hudson, the flag of the City of Salisbury is to be flown at half-staff until further notice. Furthermore, the City Park fountain will be illuminated in blue for the remainder of 2018 in awareness of suicide prevention and to pay tribute to the life of Salisbury Police Department Master Police Officer Aaron “Bull” Hudson.”