The Maryland State Board of Elections has released the final voter registration numbers for next week's election and the numbes are encouraging.
With strong voter registration efforts by both parties this year, the number of voters registered in Maryland has increased by 320,247 this year to a total of 3,430,364. This represents an increase of more than 10% in less than a year. The bulk of the newly registered voters - 227,770 - listed themselves as Democrats while only 41,882 registered as Republicans. An additional 50,595 were affiliated with one of the smaller parties or registered as independent.
This is more bad news for the Republican party in Maryland. The number of Republican voters increased by only 4.7% while the Democratic voters were up by 13.3%, slightly expanding the more than 2 to 1 lead Democrats have in the state.
As expected, the five largest jurisdictions in the state - Montgomery, Prince George's, Baltimore and Anne Arundel Counties and Baltimore City - accounted for the bulk of new registrations. Together they signed up 222,923 new voters. The vast majority of these - 175,779 - were Democrats while the Republicans counted only 18,745 new voters in these jurisdictions.
Here on the Lower Shore, the trend was the same although the numbers were much, much smaller and the Democratic dominance not quite as great. Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties signed up 5,812 new voters together. Of these, 3,311 registered as Democrats and 1,133 registered as Republicans - almost a 3 to 1 Democratic lead in this supposedly conservative part of the state.
All of this, of course, is going to make it even more difficult for Republicans to be any kind of political force in Maryland. Their tiny representation in the Maryland legislature is going to grow even smaller - even more so as redistricting after 2010 moves more seats to the big counties on the Western Shore - already Democratic strongholds.
Perhaps the Republican Party in Maryland should rethink their strategy of throwing out anyone but the most extreme conservatives and allow some moderate voices into the party. It would certainly be a breath of fresh air and might bring back some of the voters who have been alienated by the relentless negativity. But, as long as people like Bob Ehrlich and Andy Harris continue to run the party, I don't think the Dems have much to worry about on a statewide level.