As the saying goes, "As Maine goes, so goes the nation." That being said, this new poll of Maine's 2nd congressional district is raising eyebrows: while the election was supposed to be a tight race and was considered to be a very vulnerable seat for the GOP, incumbent Bruce Poliquin (R) is leading challenger Emily Cain by a full 10 points. These numbers are a good sign not only for the Republican Party's hopes to maintain control of the House of Representatives, but also for Donald Trump's campaign and his increasing success in traditionally Democrat-leaning areas.
Until Poliquin's relatively surprising win in 2014, the last time a Republican had represented Maine's 2nd district was 1995.
From the Portland Press Herald:
Poliquin is now leading Cain by 10 percentage points among likely voters in the 2nd District, although the number of undecided voters has also increased slightly since June, according to the poll, which was conducted in September by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. The poll surveyed 231 likely voters in the 2nd District and has a margin of error of about 6 percent for the congressional race.
A poll in June by the Telegram showed the race to be virtually tied, with just a 1 percent gap between the candidates, while a poll by the Boston Globe and Colby College earlier this month showed a 5 percent gap.
I've written before about the odd role Maine is playing in the upcoming election. Maine splits its electoral votes by congressional district (technically--this has never actually happened), and the extra vote Trump is likely going to gain from the 2nd district (and possible additional two votes if he winds up winning the state) could swing the election in his favor. Trump has a very comfortable lead in the 2nd district, which went to Obama in 2012 by a full eight points.
Back in March, Mainers came out in droves to caucus for Bernie Sanders, and the Vermont senator won the votes of nearly two out of three Maine Democrats. Now, Clinton is virtually tied with Trump, and Jill Stein is polling at five percent in the Pine Tree state. The latest polls show Clinton with around 37-40 percent of the vote, which is nearly identical to what she received in the caucus--it doesn't look like she's gaining voters. Obama won the state by double digits in 2008 and 2012, and the population of Maine hasn't dramatically changed in the past four years. Clinton is simply not a popular candidate here.
Additionally, conservative Mainers who may not be fully on the Trump train just yet could be motivated to go vote to defeat a Bloomberg-backed gun control measure on the ballot--which could end up backfiring (pun not intended) horribly for the Democrats in the state.
"As Maine goes, so goes the nation"--possibly again in 2016?