Posted: Jan. 8, 2013
A POLITICAL SURGE
By Celia Cohen
Nobody has to be a math wizard to figure out what happened in the election here in Delaware.
The Democrats surged. There are many more of them, anyway, and their turnout was so big, there were more Democrats who went to the polls than there were Republicans registered to vote.
This was not an election. It was a rout.
No wonder the Democrats carried the state for the presidential ticket with Barack Obama and his running mate, better known around here as "Our Joe," and also swept all five statewide offices on the 2012 ballot.
Almost 200,000 Democrats voted. If every single one of the Republicans' roughly 182,000 voters had gone to the polls -- which never happens -- the Republicans still would have started out nearly 18,000 voters behind.
Nor could the Republicans get the other voters, not affiliated with either major party, to like them enough to make a difference.
There are plenty of fairer things in life than the 2012 campaign here. Like maybe even payday loans.
The election statistics in all their starkness are now available on the Web site of the Commissioner of Elections in the "2012 AGP Report," which breaks down the voter turnout by Age Group and Party.
Not that the Democrats left the election to chance. The state party ran a sophisticated get-out-the-vote drive to identify their likely voters and deliver them.
"I'm proud of it. A lot of people worked real hard all year long. It was not just Election Day that the work was done. There were people on the phone all through 2012, calling for Obama, calling for the party, calling unregistered voters. They identified the voters for a year," said John Daniello, the Democratic state chair.
"It turned out to be effective. Election Day gets easy. Go get the vote out."
The Republicans are not kidding themselves about what it means.
"We know we have our work cut out for us," said John Fluharty, the Republicans' executive director.
The Republicans' structural deficiency in voters was compounded by another built-in disadvantage in candidates.
The Democrats fielded an all-incumbent ticket. Every candidate had run statewide at least twice before, some of them a lot more than that. Tom Carper, running for senator, was getting his record-setting 13th victory, spread over four offices. Joe Biden was making his ninth race for vice president or senator. Jack Markell was on the ballot for the fifth time as governor or treasurer.
Only one Republican candidate had even been elected to anything before. Tom Kovach, running for congressman, spent a term as a state representative and also won a special election for New Castle County Council president.
The Republican ticket was so swamped, two of the candidates polled less than the party's turnout. With 126,000 Republicans voting, Jeff Cragg managed only about 114,000 votes for governor and Kevin Wade only some 116,000 votes for senator.
The Democratic surge began in Wilmington, where there were about 50,000 voters and 70 percent of them were registered Democrats.
All but one of the Democratic candidates came out of the city with a lead of about 20,000 votes or better. The exception was the insurance commissioner's race, in which Ben Mobley, the Republican candidate, tried to persuade his fellow African-Americans in a city with a majority black population to split the ticket. It got him maybe 3,000 votes, as he lost Wilmington by about 17,000 votes.
The Democratic candidates snowballed through the rest of New Castle County, where 60 percent of the state's population lives and more than half the voters are Democrats, and they kept up enough momentum to keep themselves going through Kent County.
The Republican Party finally made a stand in Sussex County, the most conservative part of the state. The Republicans got out more voters there than the Democrats did.
Although the Sussex registration looked about even -- with about 53,300 Democrats and 51,700 Republicans on the voter rolls -- the Republicans surpassed themselves on Election Day.
More than 37,700 Sussex Republicans went to the polls, outnumbering about 35,400 Sussex Democrats who did, and for once, the Republican cause also picked up some help from non-Republican voters.
The Republicans carried Sussex County for their national ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, as well as for Sher Valenzuela for lieutenant governor and Mobley for insurance commissioner.
Not that it really mattered by then. It was far too little, too late.