50 States in 50 Days Election Preview: 7. Maryland

In the 50 days leading up to the election on November 6th, I will be doing a profile of the 50 states and previewing what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote. All of the posts so far can be found here

7. Maryland

Capital: Annapolis

Nickname: Old Line State

Motto: Fatti Maschii, Parole Femine

(Strong Deeds, Gentle Words)

About the State

Originally the home of several tribes of Native Americans – including the Piscataway, Shawnee and Nanticoke, all of whom spoke Algonquian – Maryland’s first European settlers were the English in the 17th century, led by Leonard Calvert, the younger brother of Cecillius, 2nd Baron Baltimore.  During the 18th century, Maryland had a border dispute with Pennsylvania, since the Royal Charter given to Calvert granted him land up to the 40th Parallel, an area which included the city of Philadelphia.  In order to resolve the conflict, the Calvert family – who continued to control the state – and the Penn family of Pennsylvania, used two surveyors – Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon – to determine where the boundary should be, thus creating the Mason-Dixon line.

After the Revolutionary War – during which no battles were fought in Maryland, but its soldiers who fought in the Continental army were highly regarded by George Washington – one of the first frigates of the US navy was built in Baltimore, the USS Constellation, which was later used in the Africa Patrol to seize ships carrying slaves out of West Africa.  In the War of 1812, the British marched on Baltimore and they bombarded soldiers in Fort McHenry, who defiantly raised an over-sized American flag during the attack.  It was upon seeing these National colors that Francis Scott Key – a Maryland native, who was returning to Baltimore after unsuccessfully attempting to negotiate the release of prisoners held by the British – was inspired to write The Star-Spangled banner.

As a state that is geographically on the border between the North and South, Maryland was divided by the issue of slavery and the Civil War.  By 1860, approximately half of the African-Americans there were free, while some slaveholders in the state formed local militias in order to protect the practice.  Although the majority of men from Maryland who fought in the war were on the side of the North – and the state remained in the Union – around 25,000 enlisted in the Confederate army.  The first casualties of the Civil War happened in Baltimore, when troops from Massachusetts who were marching between railroad stations were fired upon, and an uprising in the city resulted in President Lincoln placing an artillery garrison on Federal Hill and jailing pro-South members of the state Government, including the Mayor of Baltimore, George William Brown.  Maryland never fell into Confederate hands and in 1864 amended its Constitution to outlaw the practice of slavery (since it was not part of the Emancipation Proclamation, which only affected states that had seceded from the Union).

Maryland has the highest per capita income in the United States and the current unemployment level is 6.6%, significantly below the national average.  Its economy is based around agriculture, particularly dairy family; transportation, much of which comes from goods entering the port of Baltimore; jobs in defense, aerospace and other Government departments, due to the state’s proximity to Washington D.C.; and manufacturing of chemicals, electronics and computer equipment.  Johns Hopkins University – the number one ranked institute in America for science, medical and engineering research and development – is the biggest employer in the Baltimore Metropolitan area.  Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay is known for its seafood, in particular blue crabs and oysters, as well as having wildlife refuges that attract tourism to the region.

While no U.S. Presidents have been natives of Maryland, the state has been the birthplace of many sports stars, including Babe Ruth, Cal Ripken Jr, Johnny Unitas and Michael Phelps – who is now the all-time record holder of Olympic medals won.  There are two “Big Four” sports teams who have their home in Baltimore, the Orioles (MLB) and Ravens (NFL), while the Washington Redskins’ stadium is in Landover, MD, but the team associate themselves with nation’s capital.  Maryland was also the setting for the greatest television show of all time – The Wire – the main star of which was Baltimore itself.

2012 Election

Presidential Race

Electoral College Votes: 10

2008 Result: Obama 62% McCain 36.8%

Latest Poll: Obama +23%

Since 1960, Maryland’s Electoral College Votes have gone to the Republican candidate just three times, in 1972, 1984 and 1988.  On November 6th, President Barack Obama will almost definitely make it six Democratic victories in a row in the state.

Also on the Ballot

Congress: One Senate seat is on the ballot this November in Maryland, currently occupied by the Democrat, Ben Cardin, who won his first-term in 2006 against Michael Steele, who would go on to be the first African-American Chairman of the Republican National Committee.  Cardin’s challenger this time is Dan Bongino, but the incumbent is considered highly likely to win a second-term in office.

There are 8 members of the House of Representatives from Maryland, of which 6 are Democrats and 2 are from the GOP.  7 of the incumbents are expected to be re-elected, but Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R.) looks likely to lose his seat to John Delaney (D).

Ballot Measures: Maryland is one of four states this November that has a ballot measure to allow same-sex couples to obtain a civil marriage license and current polls show it is likely to be passed.

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