Maine may be shaded a solid blue on CNN
Maine may be shaded a solid blue on CNN's presidential election map, but the real story is much more complicated, especially at the state and local level.
The Maine state Senate is perhaps the best example of partisan competition in Maine, and this year's election looks to be another close one. Democrats currently have a slim one-vote majority in the chamber and there are several races that promise to be nailbiters. It's much more exciting than the state House, which is now solidly Democratic and will likely remain that way through the next election.
I'll be getting into specific races soon, but I wanted to use this post to give an overview of the state Senate election as a whole. One of the best ways to do that is with visual aids, so here are some maps, created with info from Maine GIS and the Elections Bureau showing the results of the last two Senate elections (the districts were redrawn in 2003).
As you can see, Republicans (red) do well in rural areas, while Democrats enjoy majorities in urban areas and a few other spots, such as the solidly Democratic St. John valley.
Past partisan performance isn't necessarily the best barometer of competitiveness, and it's important to take into account things like term limits, local issues, and most importantly the candidates themselves. Mainers often vote for the person rather than the party, and candidate name recognition and willingness to work hard to win the seat make a huge difference.
Over the last few weeks, I've been discussing the 2008 races with politicians, journalists, and interest group leaders, and they all seem to agree on the importance of a small number of competitive districts that may tip the balance of power this year. Most of these are made up of small town and suburban areas of southern and central Maine.
I'll be examining at least seven of these in more detail over the next few weeks, including Districts 1, 11, 15, 20, 21, 22 and 32. Feel free to use the comments below to suggest others.
In other Maine political news this week…
- Labor groups are beginning to air anti-Susan Collins TV ads in Maine.
- So is a group representing Iraq War veterans.
- Rep. Tom Saviello, an independent state legislator, will lead "Citizens for McCain" in Maine.
- Independent state Senate candidate Dana Kadey has been ordered to repay $2,000 in clean elections funds.
- Chellie Pingree is campaigning by boat.
- Fed Up With Taxes is airing the first TV ad of the beverage tax referendum campaign. The Sun Journal calls it "disingenuous".
- District 4 Republican state Senate candidate Kristi Bryant has been charged with driving while intoxicated.
- Tom Allen spoke at the Democratic Convention in Denver. Susan Collins spoke on a porch in Caribou.
- State treasurer David Lemoine has recouped a $20 million investment loss, but questions remain.
- A former state treasurer is trying to recoup his stolen tomatoes.
- The Phoenix takes a close look at the budget process, and finds the surplus was no surprise.
- The legislature will likely debate allowing a four-day school week during the next session.
- Hope is made in Maine.