BALTIMORE – As Hillary Clinton on Tuesday struggled to keep a path to the Oval Office through other states, voters in Maryland’s urban areas handed the state’s 10 electoral votes to a Democratic candidate for the seventh straight presidential election.
Landslide margins in Baltimore and the Washington, D.C., suburbs were the driving force behind Clinton’s victory here, easily overpowering Trump’s coalition of Republican voters concentrated on the Eastern Shore and in Western Maryland.
One of the first states called in the presidential race, Maryland polls closed at 8 p.m. A traditionally blue state, Maryland received far less attention from either candidate than neighboring battleground states Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The state has not voted for a Republican president since 1988, when George H.W. Bush defeated beat out Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis by a three-point margin. In 2008 and 2012, Maryland saw some of the highest margins in the nation for Barack Obama.
Even the state’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan, declined to endorse his party’s candidate, Donald Trump. Elected in 2014 with support from Democrats and independents, Hogan announced in June that he would not be casting a vote for the GOP nominee.
“Maryland is very reliably blue,” said Sarah Croco, an associate professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland. “While Republican rural areas may be larger geographically, there’s these big cities where there’s a lot of people and people tend to be Democratic.”
Despite the region’s historically Democratic tilt, many voters voiced concerns over Trump’s temperament — rather than his party identification — as the driving force behind casting a ballot for Clinton.
“I don’t think Trump has respect for anyone,” said Baltimore resident Suzanne Wilson in an interview outside her polling location at the Lillian Jones Recreation Center. “He would cause a whole bunch of conflict.”
Wilson said she worries a Trump presidency could lead the nation into war, adding that his tendency to act irrationally would make him a dangerous commander-in-chief.
“There’s a lot of things that entail thinking and not reaction,” Wilson, 52, said. “You have to think before you react.”
Voters also cited the former first lady, senator and secretary of state’s experience as another reason she would be fit for office.
“She understands what the role is and she’ll do a good job,” said John Willis, 70, a registered Democrat and professor at the University of Baltimore. “I care about somebody that wants to do a good job.”
Other Maryland voters were excited by the prospect of putting a woman in the Oval Office. Nykira Harcum, 19, cast her vote for Clinton due to her status as the first female major party presidential candidate.
“As the first female president, she will be better,” said Harcum, who lives in Baltimore and identifies as a Democrat. “I can relate to her more because she’s our first female. She will listen to us, and take what we say and do something about it.”
In West Baltimore’s Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood — where Freddie Gray was arrested in 2015, sparking riots across the city — voters voiced concern with the community’s rising housing costs and declining wages.
“This is an impoverished area,” said resident Amanda Rich, an information technician. “We need better ways to deal with the community. We need a sustainable work wage where people don’t need to work 60 hours a week to make a better living.”
“There’s a lot of ugly here — too much,” said lifelong resident Wanda Bethel, 55. “It’s really frustrating to see our city go down.”
Bethel lives on a street with just three occupied homes, she said. The rest have been abandoned, the result of occupants becoming unable to pay rent.
However, Trump managed to find pockets of support even within the liberal Baltimore-Washington D.C., corridor.
In Baltimore, some voters expressed frustration over the current state of the nation’s politics.
Resident Jose Dominguez, 54, cited Trump’s outsider status as the reason he saw the Republican candidate as suitable for the presidency.
“I voted for Trump out of frustration with the establishment and what’s going on,” Dominguez, a physician, said. “I want a return to the rule of law and representative democracy.”
In nearby Linthicum, Maryland, resident Leo Zerchusen expressed a similar sentiment.
“It’s time to get rid of the old and bring in the new,” Zerchusen, 69, said. “We have enough issues right here.”
In Wheaton, Maryland, registered Republican Petro Nilo, 56, cast his vote for the Republican candidate “to see change,” Nilo said.
“Obama promised change and nothing happened,” Nilo, a painter, said. “Clinton would be the same…and there would be no change with her, either.”
Nilo, an immigrant from Guatemala, became a citizen five years ago. In his view, Trump’s policies would create more opportunities for Hispanics like himself.
Trump has taken a much harsher stance on immigration than his opponent. Over the course of his campaign, he has labeled Mexicans as criminals and rapists, advocated building a wall along the country’s southern border, and even called for mass deportations of undocumented immigrants.
These are some of the very same comments that turned Maryland voters away from the Republican candidate.
“My decision was pretty simple,” said Chris Sharp, a 40 year-old Baltimore resident and engineer who voted for Clinton. “More honesty, less bigotry, less hate-mongering.”