Tuesday, July 24, 2012
The following table is too large to insert into this article without the type being too small to read easily. Instead of making you squint to see the numbers, just click on the link below to see – and print, if you like – the PDF version of the table.
The table is obviously a spreadsheet. I’ve left the column letters and row numbers in place to make it easier to refer to specific data.
Okay, what’s this all about? It’s about helping Maryland voters understand the severity of economic conditions where they live. To that end, I’ll let the data speak for themselves with the exception of just a couple of points. Candidates, challengers in particular, may be especially interested in these data. That’s why I included party registration numbers in spreadsheet columns C, D, E and F.
Voter registration. Yes, Maryland is a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1. Compare the 1,957,319 in spreadsheet cell C18 to the 925,614 in D18. That disparity is well known. What’s interesting is the relatively large number of “Other” party voters – the 585,354 voters in E18 – most of whom are classified as “UNA” which stands for “UNAffilated,” that is, independent.
Statewide unemployment. In May, the unemployment rate for Maryland was 6.7% (J18). The unemployment rate was 6.9% last month, but local data are not yet available for June.
Major locality unemployment. The statewide unemployment rate of 6.7% is just a tenth of a point higher than the average rate for the 8 largest counties, including Baltimore City, where the rate was 6.6% (J22). If that seems counter-intuitive, because we think of large cities as having relatively high unemployment, it’s because most of the 8 counties are suburbs and more or less an integral part of the Baltimore or Washington metropolitan areas. The 6.6% overall unemployment rate for the 8 largest counties is being held down by the likes of Howard and Montgomery Counties where unemployment is only 5.0% (J39 and J41). In fact, the unemployment rate in Baltimore County is 7.1% (J28) and 10.1% (J29) in Baltimore City.
Numbers of Unemployed. Whatever the rates of unemployment, it’s always important to look at the actual numbers. As a rule, each unemployed person is a family. Statewide, in May, there were 204,730 people, and their families, who were unemployed. 159,920 of them were in just 8 counties. 86,651 were unemployed in the four counties – Baltimore, Harford and Anne Arundel Counties and Baltimore City, in rows highlighted in green – where Maryland’s Second Congressional District is located. (To be fair, the Second District is only a subset of these four localities.)
Political implications. This is not, as they say, “rocket science.” Incumbents – such as Senator Ben Cardin and Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger from Maryland’s Second District – who unfailingly supported the President’s and Democrat Party’s recovery programs are responsible, in no small way, for the persistent levels of unemployment Maryland and the nation have been experiencing. It’s simple: If the challengers to these and other incumbents are successful in holding the incumbents responsible for our decidedly lackluster economic recovery, the challengers win. If not, the incumbents are re-elected as voters make what amounts to their default decision, and the election failed to accomplish its purpose.
Elections are, after all, about holding incumbents responsible for the performance of government while they were in office. Unfortunately, campaign financing is such that incumbents use their position to command a substantial financial advantage over their challengers, thereby making the election more about money, that is, about which candidate has it, than about who can govern best.