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Election 2020

We Can Declare a Winner — in the Maryland Matters Election Contest!

Photo by Jason Dent/

A few more ballots are still being tallied from the November election in Maryland, but we’re ready to declare a winner — in the Maryland Matters election contest.

Congratulations to Rich Norling, the political director for the Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club. He edged Anthony McAuliffe, a public information officer for the Prince George’s County government, to take the prize.

The very close race came down to the second tie-breaker.

You may recall that we asked for 10 predictions and then asked two tie-breaker questions.

Rich Norling, our winner

Norling and McAuliffe called every race right, and they both came very close to handicapping the candidates’  percentages when we asked them to (both seemed to have trouble predicting the percentages in the Baltimore City Council 12th District election, however). They both accurately predicted the Maryland jurisdictions where Joe Biden and President Trump would get their highest vote percentage, and they both accurately picked the members of the state’s congressional delegation who would win by the biggest and smallest percentages of the vote.

In the first tie-breaker — predicting how many of the candidates that Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) endorsed in national political races would win — Norling and McAuliffe gave the same answer, three (the correct answer, in fact, was five).

So it all came down to forecasting the number of votes that Jerome Segal, the presidential candidate of the Bread and Roses Party would win in Maryland. McAuliffe’s prediction: 11,000 votes. Norling’s prediction: 5,381 votes. The actual number, as of Wednesday afternoon: 5,884 votes. And that was that.

Here’s a review of the questions we asked, and the answers:

A. Who will carry Maryland in the presidential election?

Joe Biden

B. What percentages of the vote will Donald Trump and Joe Biden receive in Maryland? What will the cumulative percentages of all third party and write-in candidates be?

Trump 32.2%

Biden 65.4%

Others 2.4%

C. What Maryland jurisdiction will give Donald Trump his biggest margin of victory?

Garrett County

D. What Maryland jurisdiction will give Joe Biden his biggest margin of victory?

Prince George’s County

E. All eight Maryland members of the U.S. House of Representatives are heavily favored to win reelection. Who will chalk up the biggest margin of victory? 

Anthony Brown

F. Which House member will have the smallest margin of victory?

David Trone

G. Who will win the Baltimore mayoral election, and what percentage of the vote will the victor get?

Brandon Scott, 70.5%

H. Predict the percentages for the candidates in the most competitive race for a Baltimore City Council seat, in District 12:

Eugene Z. Boikai (R) 4.3%

Incumbent Robert Stokes Sr. (D) 59.5%

Franca Muller Paz (Green) 35.9%

I. Predict the outcome of the race for Cecil County executive:

Danielle Hornberger (R) 63.4%

Jeff Kase (D) 36.3%

J. Will State Ballot Question #1 — giving the General Assembly greater say over the state budget process beginning in 2024 — pass or fail?


For his victory prize, Norling will be treated to lunch by Maryland Matters Editor Josh Kurtz — well after the COVID-19 pandemic is over, of course.

McAuliffe deserves congratulations as well. And we had a seven-way tie for third place (without tallying these contestants’ tie-breakers). The shared bronze medal goes to:

— Bowie City Councilmember Michael Esteve

— Korey Hartwich, a legislative advocate with National Nurses United

— State Del. Anne R. Kaiser (D-Montgomery) and Montgomery College administrator Nancy C. Lineman

— Spencer Knoll, a legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)

— Chris Lynch, chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.)

— Michael Sanderson, executive director of the Maryland Association of Counties

— Matt Verghese, deputy chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.)

This was our third election contest. Norling joins our pantheon of winners, which also includes lawyer and lobbyist Leonard L. Lucchi, now a member of the Maryland Matters Board of Directors, and Del. Vaughn Stewart (D-Montgomery) — who won just a few months before he took office.

Look for our next election contest before the 2022 primary. Thanks to everyone who entered. Here’s hoping this doesn’t require the intervention of Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell. And congrats, again, Mr. Norling!



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We Can Declare a Winner — in the Maryland Matters Election Contest!