Campaigning works: some primary numbers from my county

Getting out there and campaigning for your candidate can make a difference. How do I know? In part, by scanning Frederick County’s precinct-by-precinct unofficial results from Tuesday’s low-profile GOP Senate primary.

As politically aware Maryland readers may know, I was rooting for my friend Chrys Kefalas in his bid for the U.S. Senate nomination, but he fell short, running third after the winner, House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga, and Chris Chaffee. Chrys (the one I know, the one with the “y”) campaigned several times in Frederick County and ran about a point higher here than his statewide average, almost but not quite enough to take second place.
Frederick County map
I had a close view of some of the campaigning Chrys’s friends did for him in my part of the county in recent weeks and on election day. To see whether this campaigning made a difference, I decided to check out various precincts from the more suburban parts of the county, where Chrys ran stronger than he did in the rural sections.

In suburban precincts where we made no special campaign efforts, a typical outcome would be for Chrys to finish neck and neck with Chris Chaffee for second place, but well behind Szeliga, with from 30% to 80% as many votes as she got. Thus Orchard Grove, Kemptown, Linganore High School, Monocacy Middle School, North Frederick Elementary, and so forth. At some of these polls Kefalas had good sign displays, others not, but it didn’t seem to matter much.

In a few precincts, efforts were made in the weeks leading up to Primary Day but nothing special other than signs was done on the day itself. These generally outperformed the norm a little: thus Spring Ridge (where Chrys’s literature had been included in a door-to-door literature drop) registered Szeliga 113-Kefalas 78-Chaffee 69 (combined A and B), while New Market Middle came in at Szeliga 117-Kefalas 74-Chaffee 51.

On Primary Day itself, while Chrys’s campaigners swung by a number of other polling places over the course of the day, they targeted two in the southeastern part of the county for sustained efforts in which more than one volunteer distributed literature and talked to voters: Deer Crossing Elementary School, in the Lake Linganore vicinity, and Twin Ridge Elementary School, in Mt. Airy. And these wound up in a class by themselves results-wise. Here are the results from those two precincts:

  • Deer Crossing (covered by Kefalas workers tag-team-style over much of the day): Szeliga 153, Kefalas 152, Chaffee 80.
  • Twin Ridge (one Kefalas worker for most of the day with a second joining in during the evening rush): Kefalas 190, Szeliga 140, Chaffee 53.

Your results, as they say, may vary. In this particular race, candidates tended to lack strong name recognition and many voters had not formed strong opinions; that makes it different from, say, a presidential race, in which few voters arrive at the polls with minds not made up. But if you were wondering if you can make a difference by getting out to canvass in person to help your candidates, the answer is: you bet you can.

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