March 24, 2018
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Money race shows a split that could give Trump a Maine electoral vote

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign event on Friday in Wilmington, Ohio.
By Darren Fishell, BDN Staff

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has raised far more money from far more people than Donald Trump’s across Maine.

But if you break out Clinton’s $1.5 million and Trump’s $153,000 by congressional district, the picture becomes less lopsided.

In the 1st District, encompassing southern Maine, Clinton raised more than $13 for every $1 picked up by the Trump campaign. But her lead narrowed in the 2nd District, where the Democrat raised a little more than $4 for every $1 that went to her Republican rival, according to reports covering contributions through Oct. 25.

The money race is no predictor of how the election will turn out. But it supports relatively scant polling indicating Trump’s improving chances at picking up an electoral vote in Maine, in a quest for 270.

Within the relatively small sample, the finance data also indicates Republican donors in the 2nd District were more likely than their southern counterparts to shift support to Trump after preferring another candidate.

In Maine’s 1st District, about 22 percent of Republican donors who gave to multiple candidates gave at least one contribution to Trump. The share in the 2nd District was about 33 percent.

The finance reports also reveal the political fault lines among the state’s donors. Clinton support was concentrated along the same southern coast where Republican Jeb Bush took in much of his early cash.

The figures represent just a tiny fraction of registered voters and Mainers of voting age. Relatively few Maine voters donate to political campaigns, and an even smaller portion of them give more than $200, or enough to be itemized and counted in the federal finance reports that form the basis of our analysis.

Our analysis included about 6,300 individual contributors from Maine who gave at least $200 to one campaign. By a count of donors, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders still had the lead through reports covering up to Oct. 25, with about 2,450 donors. Clinton had about 2,150 different donors, and Trump had just more than 1,000.

That’s a group representing less than 1 percent of Maine’s adult population of just over 1 million and about 3 percent of the people who already voted absentee as of Friday.

But the donor data provide a level of detail unavailable in other ways of gauging trends in the race.

That detail in the race between Clinton and Trump is even clearer directly comparing the fundraising advantage held by either candidate across towns in the 1st District and 2nd District.

In the 2nd District, the major metropolitan areas gave Clinton a large lead. But Trump was ahead in Brewer, Oakland, Presque Isle, Palermo and a number of other towns, albeit to a much lesser degree.

In all, cash to the Trump campaign was even with Clinton’s in many more towns across the district.

National attention will continue to turn to Maine’s 2nd District through Election Day. It very well could deliver Trump one electoral vote and mark the first time in history that Maine voters split the Electoral College votes between its two districts.

The presidential election also stands to impact Republican Bruce Poliquin’s bid for re-election against challenger Emily Cain, who lost her bid for the seat two years ago.

CNN on Friday shifted the 2nd District to leaning toward Trump, based on its latest polls. FiveThirtyEight, which aggregates and weights national polls, forecast Friday that Trump would beat Clinton in the 2nd District by less than 1 percentage point on Nov. 8.


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