The Census Bureau classifies Maryland as a Southern state. It is south of the Mason-Dixon Line. And the state’s regional dialect, especially in Baltimore, can’t really be found anywhere else on the map.
But politically, Maryland has long behaved like a Northeastern state, and that means it is likely to vote for Mitt Romney on Tuesday.
Two new polls of Maryland give Mr. Romney leads of 17 and 25 points over Rick Santorum in the state. The poll showing the larger lead is slightly more recent, and so the FiveThirtyEight forecast of Maryland leans toward it, projecting Mr. Romney to win by 23 points.
That margin should be safe for Mr. Romney even if Mr. Santorum overperforms his polls, as he has in other states (something that the FiveThirtyEight does not account for). The polls suggest that Maryland’s wealthy and urbane demographics — it has the highest average income in the country by some measures — should help to overcome any pockets of weakness for Mr. Romney.
Perhaps more important, Maryland allocates its 37 delegates winner take all at the statewide and Congressional district level. Unless there is an epic upset, Mr. Romney should win the 13 delegates given to the statewide winner. He also seems almost certain to win at least 6 of the state’s 8 Congressional districts, which would give him 18 more delegates there.
Mr. Santorum could be more competitive in two districts. Much of Maryland’s Sixth District is rural and even mountainous and Appalachian — it has more in common with West Virginia than with the rest of the state. Mr. Santorum may well be the favorite there, although the district was recently redrawn by Maryland’s Democratic-dominated government to make it less conservative and contain a few more suburban areas.
Maryland’s First District, on its Eastern Shore, is traditionally Republican and somewhat distinct culturally and geographically from the rest of the state. In redistricting, Democrats made it somewhat more rural and conservative, removing some suburban areas from it, in an effort to consolidate the Republican vote there and improve their chances of winning Maryland’s seven remaining Congressional districts. Thus, that district could be competitive as well, although the portions of it east of Chesapeake Bay are idiosyncratic enough politically and culturally that it is hard to know for sure what will happen there.
Even if Mr. Romney were to lose both of those districts, however, he would still carry Maryland’s delegates by a 31-to-6 margin. Perhaps more likely is that Mr. Romney will win one of the swing districts but not the other, which would give him a 34-to-3 edge.
Coupled with Mr. Romney’s almost-certain victory in the District of Columbia — which awards its 16 pledged delegates on a winner-take-all basis and where Mr. Santorum is not on the ballot — Mr. Romney could gain about 50 delegates on Tuesday night before even factoring in the tally in Wisconsin.
Even if Mr. Romney were to lose Wisconsin narrowly — he is also ahead in polls there but Mr. Santorum has much more plausible upset chances — that would be enough for Mr. Romney to emerge with a clear majority of delegates from the voting on Tuesday.