Down East 2013 ©
There's a slim chance that northern and central Maine will decide the Presidential election.
Because Maine assigns two of its electoral votes in the presidential election to the winner of each of the state's two congressional districts, there's always the possibility that the states vote will be split, with three votes going to one candidate and one to the other.
The split would be most likely to occur if John McCain made inroads into the 2nd district. Despite the fact that a Democrat has carried the state during each of the last four presidential elections, the margin in the 2nd district has always been smaller than in the first.
Armchair campaign managers can argue over how likely this split is to occur based on the district's percentage of independent voters, relative strengths of campaign efforts, local demographics, and the effect of down-ballot races. However, perhaps an even more interesting question is: would it ever matter? How likely is it that one electoral vote from Maine could swing the election?
Political statistician Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com  ran the numbers back in May, and got some surprising results. In 10,000 simulated election trials (using a complex prediction algorithm), 63 result in a situation where one electoral vote would make the difference. This may seem slight, but it's actually higher than the chance that the candidates will win exactly the same states their parties won in 2004 (this occurred only once in the 10,000 trials).
Below is one entirely plausible example, with Obama winning all the Kerry states except New Hampshire and picking up Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado. In this scenario, if Maine's 2nd CD swung to McCain he would win the election. If Obama held the whole state, then things would get interesting.
In the case of an exact tie, the race goes to the (incoming) House of Representatives where the president will be chosen by an election in which each state's delegation would have one vote. Currently, 27 of the states have House delegations with more Democrats than Republicans, and this advantage is likely to increase in November. In this scenario, Obama would likely win the presidency, but only if he carries northern Maine first.
In other political news this week…
Herbert Hoffman is attempting to take his case to the supreme court . It's not likely to be heard .
Voting down the beverage tax won't actually reduce taxes .
Congressman Michaud returns from a visit to Iraq .
2nd place congressional candidate Adam Cote now leads Obama's veteran-outreach effort .
Political hot spot Simones' hot dog stand will soon celebrate its 100th anniversary .
The politics of the heating crisis heat up .
Governor Baldacci gets a B- on conservation  and works with Wal-Mart  to fight domestic violence.
His lawyer is leaving to start his own firm.
Maine Democrats are greatly out-pacing Republicans  in numbers of offices and paid staff.
The state launches a new website , featuring updates through Twitter .
Congressman Allen begins announcing his economic plan  and runs his first TV ad .
The Tax Foundation changes its ranking system , moving Maine from 2nd to 15th in taxes.
Former Governor King wants to build offshore windmills .
A health care group protests Anthem's profits .
The Bar Association recommends disciplining Seth Carey , head of the pro-casino referendum initiative.
Paul Mills looks at the history of tax repeal initiatives in Maine .
PolitickerME looks at the history of the Maine Green-Independent Party , and forgets an important election .
The Press Herald is cutting its opinion content .
Statehouse spending  is examined, so are statehouse portraits .