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WATERVILLE, Maine _ For the first time in Maine’s history, the state’s electoral votes may not all go to one candidate, according to a new Colby College-Boston Globe poll. And this could have critical implications for Electoral College voting.
In what should be a solid-blue state (Maine went for President Barack Obama in the last two elections) Hillary Clinton barely edges Donald Trump, 42 percent to 39 percent, just eight weeks until votes are counted. Should Clinton carry the state on Election Day, she would probably pick up just three of the state’s four electoral votes. Maine does not have a winner-take-all electoral policy. It awards two votes to the statewide winner, and one additional vote to the winner of each of the state’s two congressional districts. According to the new poll, Trump leads Clinton by 10 points in the 2nd Congressional District, which makes up the northern part of the state. This single electoral vote is inconsequential in a landslide, but in a close race, and depending on how other states vote, Northern Maine’s half a million residents could tip the balance.
“It would seem that Maine is once again a bellwether state, as our poll reflects both the tightness of the presidential race and the divided nature of American politics.” said Dan Shea, director of Colby’s Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement, and professor of government, who directed the poll. “Maine could make the difference in who we elect as our next president.”
The poll was conducted by national opinion research firm SurveyUSA, which interviewed 1000 adults from Maine from Sept. 4-10. Of that number, 779 were determined to be registered voters likely to vote in this election. The poll carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent. Clinton, who leads by 3 (within the poll’s margin of error) is running 12 points weaker than Obama did in 2012, when he carried Maine by 15 points. Not since 2000, when Democrat Al Gore carried Maine by 5 percentage points, has the state been this closely contested.
“It’s hard reading the polling data without coming to the conclusion that Maine politics echoes what’s happening across the nation,” Shea said. “ The race is tight, and passions run deep.”
The poll also showed that:
• In Maine’s 1st Congressional District, incumbent Democrat Chellie Pingree is poised for easy re-election to her 5th term, 20 points atop Republican challenger Mark Holbrook.
• In Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Republican Bruce Poliquin leads Democratic challenger Emily Cain 50 percent to to 45 percent.
• A majority of Mainers—54 percent— say they have no confidence in Republican Governor Paul LePage’s ability to govern. But 40 percent of Mainers, including 85 percent of Republicans, say they have confidence in LePage. •
Some 64 percent of Mainers say the level of civility in Maine politics has gotten worse since LePage took office in 2010. • Approval for Maine’s two senators, independent Angus King and Republican Susan Collins, remains robust—over 60 percent for each.
• A majority of Mainers (59 percent) support President Obama’s recent order designating 87,500 acres in the northern part of the state a national monument.
For more information: http://www.colby.edu/goldfarb/elections/colby-globe-election-poll/
• There were significant differences among groups of voters, particularly between men and women. For more information, go to http://www.colby.edu/goldfarb/elections/colby-globe-election-poll
Founded in 2003, Colby’s Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement aims to link the Colby community with local, state, national, and international leaders to explore creative, interdisciplinary approaches to complex challenges.
Founded in 1813, Colby is one of America’s most selective colleges. Serving only undergraduates, Colby offers a rigorous academic program rooted in deep exploration of ideas and close interaction with world-class faculty scholars.