By Neal Earley
Montgomery County voter participation in a midterm election climbed above 50 percent for the first time in years last week.
In total, 388,480 people voted in the Midterm Election in 2018, which accounted for a 59.3-percent voter turnout compared to 38.9 percent in the 2014 midterm election – one of the highest in recent midterm elections.
The high voter turnout in the County followed a national trend, which saw rising voter turnout in most jurisdictions. Nationally, voter turnout for a midterm election hit a 50-year high, with 47 percent of voting-eligible populations turning out for the midterms, according to the United States Election Project.
Voters around the nation and the County said on Election Day that the biggest issue driving them to the ballot box was national politics, particularly anger at the Trump administration. But local issues also drove voters to the polls.
“I think the national climate had a lot to do with it,” said Will Jawando, a candidate for County Council at-large who voters elected on Nov. 6. “A lot people who supported my campaign, the first [thing] they said was they were just so fed up with what was going on at the national level.”
For the first time in recent memory, Montgomery County had what many voters anticipated to be a closely-contended race for County Executive.
While there were three candidates running, many feared that the entry of independent candidate Nancy Floreen into the race would split the Democratic vote, allowing for the possibility that Republican candidate Robin Ficker might win. It did not come to pass, as Democratic candidate Marc Elrich won a total of 239,460 votes, which accounted for 64.3 percent of the vote total. That is compared to his predecessor, Ike Leggett, who won 65.3 percent of the vote in 2014 against one opponent, Republican Jim Shalleck.
“I expected a more difficult challenge,” Elrich said. “I still thought I was going to win, but I didn’t think it would be [by] this much. This is pretty significant.”
In the governor’s race, Gov. Larry Hogan won reelection on Nov. 6 by winning more votes than any other governor in Maryland’s history.
Republican incumbent Hogan won a total of 1,242,040 votes, which accounted for 56.1 percent of the vote total, against Democratic opponent Ben Jealous.
According to an Associated Press-Fox News voter analysis on the Maryland Gubernatorial Election, Hogan won 70 percent of white voters, 63 percent of male voters, 60 percent of voters age 45 to 64, and 64 percent of voters ages 65 and older.
“Tonight, in a deep-blue state in this blue year, with a blue wave, it turns out I can surf,” Hogan told supporters on Election Night.