More than 100,000 Marylanders ― 116,853, to be exact ― turned out to cast ballots on the final day of early voting Thursday. That means 665,064 people voted during the early voting window, according to unofficial statistics from the Maryland State Board of Elections.
The early voting turnout is more than double the rate of the 2014 gubernatorial election, which saw only 307,646 early ballots cast.
Democrats have said high turnout this year could propel their candidates forward on a wave of anti-President Trump sentiment, particularly gubernatorial nominee Benjamin T. Jealous, who is running against popular incumbent Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R).
On Thursday, 75,273 Democrats cast ballots, compared to 24,816 Republicans who voted. Since the start of early voting, Democrats have cast 426,196 ballots and Republicans have cast 156,201.
Historically, Democrats have been overrepresented in the state’s early voting turnout, compared to overall turnout during an election.
Turnout in the 2014 race was anomalously low, so higher turnout numbers this year is unsurprising, said Todd Eberly, a political science professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
“I hate to sort of burst the bubble of all the breathless discussion of early vote numbers. There’s nothing in these early vote numbers that either surprises me or impresses me,” Eberly said.
He’s run models to consider how high turnout might affect the race. If Democrats vote for Hogan anywhere close to the 38 percent support captured in a Goucher Poll in September, no amount of turnout could propel Jealous to victory, Eberly said.
However, “I don’t think we’ll have a 20-point race on Election Day,” Eberly said. “I think a lot of Democrats, in the end, will decide to come home; Trump is a very big thing standing out there encouraging Democrats to vote Democratic.”
Counties with particularly high turnout so far include Baltimore County, Howard County and those in the 1st Congressional District, where Democrat Jesse Colvin has mounted a serious campaign against incumbent U.S. Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R).
“Democrats for the first time think that they have a chance to win that district and that is motivating them to want to vote,” Eberly said. “But Republicans are turning out in the 1st Congressional District as well. It suggests to me that there’s a sense it’s a competitive race.”