MediaRadar Blog

Potential Panic for Maryland Dems

Maryland’s political landscape sees unexpected shifts with former GOP Governor Larry Hogan’s Senate bid and a tight Democratic primary challenging the state’s traditional Democratic dominance.

When one thinks “safe Democrat territory,” Maryland is one of the first places that comes to mind. Between their House and Senate delegation’s 10 seats, nine are held by Democrats. 

Indeed, President Biden doubled up Donald Trump in 2020, 65% to 32%. Two events in the past three months have upset the typically quiescent, uneventful nature of Maryland politics.

On February 9th, Maryland’s former GOP Governor Larry Hogan announced his intention to seek election to the Senate. It was a surprising move as Hogan was associated with the now-defunct “No Labels” movement—an attempt to carve out a viable third party for this year’s presidential election. Additionally, Hogan is a noted Trump critic—a trajectory that tends towards leaving the GOP, not signing up to run under its banner.

In a further development, in late March, Dem Senate hopeful Angela Alsobrooks—who was trailing her party’s frontrunner, Representative David Trone (MD-06)—secured endorsements from the Congressional Black Caucus, Maryland Representative Jamie Raskin as well as current Maryland Governor Wes Moore. As a result, polling has tightened in this Dem Senate primary. The Baltimore Sun had Trone ahead of Alsobrooks by 12 points as late as 04/10. The Hill’s most recent poll, ending 05/08, shows her ahead by three.

This dynamic—a competitive Dem primary and general election in high-cost DMAs—will add to what is already forecasted to be an unprecedented ad spend in the 2024 election. Representative Trone cannot be accused of taking his opponent lightly. Year-to-date he has dropped over $10M in advertising on 31 creatives airing 21,494 times in the DC, Baltimore, and Salisbury markets. 

Alsobrooks is being outspent four-to-one—spending $2.5M on 11 creatives airing 4,451 times in just DC and Baltimore. Democrat PAC “Women Vote” is also up on the air attacking Trone with one spot which has aired 442 times in the Baltimore market at a cost of $437K. Bear in mind, this is just for the primary election while the general election against a popular ex-governor is on the horizon.

The beleaguered Maryland GOP must enjoy seeing Dems spend funds formerly allocated to battleground states. Their two candidates, the aforementioned Hogan and former Maryland House Delegate Robin Ficker, have combined for just over $630K in spending this year. Perennial candidate Ficker—last in public office in 1983—has spent $407K while Hogan (whose ad buys have been co-sponsored by the National Republican Senatorial Committee) has spent $225K.

What are the ads talking about? Very much the same issues that exist in the battleground states where the Presidential election will be determined. The Republicans are focusing on immigration, attacking President Biden and praising Donald Trump, all while the Democrats are focusing primarily on abortion rights and healthcare.

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Hogan will need deep pockets to contend in Maryland with Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, and polling has him down 10 points to both prospective challengers, but this race could not be off to a better start as far as the Republicans are concerned. Those following the election will know the results of these primaries this evening.

Written by Geoffrey Pereira, Vivvix CMAG