The website Crowdpac has tracked campaign contributions nationwide to gauge, in part, where pockets of political support for candidates and parties can be found.
While voter records of any given community provide one view of its political leaning, donation records offer another, sometimes less obvious glimpse.
Crowdpac puts campaign donation figures through a proprietary formula and gives each city or town a score ranging from 10L on the most liberal side to 10C on the most conservative side.
“Analyzing political donations is, of course, one way among many to analyze the true politics of a locale — but it’s a particularly interesting one,” wrote Amber Phillips of the Washington Post. “Unlike voter registration data, which tells you which party people might belong to, political donation data reveals which candidates people are actively supporting. That helps paint communities in different shades of red or blue.
“In coming up with the rankings, Crowdpac analysts gave more ideological points to a city if donors there gave to candidates who sit closer to the ends of either side of the ideological scale,” she continued. “So if a city gave more to the more-liberal Bernie Sanders than to Hillary Clinton, that city scored more liberal than a Clinton-backing city would.”
The famously liberal voting city of Portland, where presidential candidate Sanders attracted an estimated crowd of more than 8,000 people during a July visit, is rated by Crowdpac as one of the most progressive cities in Maine in terms of financial support as well.
The database reportedly has a population cutoff of 6,000 people, so many of Maine’s smaller towns aren’t included in the list. And some communities with more than 6,000 residents don’t show up by search, so it’s not a perfect system. But the site does seem to use a lower size threshold than many nationwide analyses of these sorts (25,000 seems like a population number at which many city-by-city ratings draw their lines).
Here are the scores of 10 of the most populous Maine municipalities (Scarborough, which would have been No. 9 on this list, didn’t come up in a search for some reason):
- Portland: 5.2L
- Lewiston: 0.9L
- Bangor: 1.6L
- South Portland: 3.7L
- Auburn: 1.6L
- Biddeford: 3.3L
- Sanford: 1.9L
- Brunswick: 4.7L
- Saco: 4.1L
- Augusta: 3.6L