AUGUSTA, Maine — According to the statewide student mock election, Donald Trump would be the country’s next president and Rep. Bruce Poliquin and Rep. Chellie Pingree would each get another term in Congress.
Those were just some of the results tallied Wednesday in Augusta. And while it was not a real election, many adults are taking notice of the results, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said Wednesday night.
“It’s a little bit of a mixed bag, but one of the caveats is that a mock election does a pretty good job reflecting what actually happens in a general election, especially with candidates,” Dunlap said.
“A little bit less so with referendum elections,” he said. “Sometimes those things are complicated and have long histories.”
The parallel between how adults and children vote when it comes to candidates may be because of the fact that young people are exposed to the same campaign advertising that their parents are, he said.
“They see the mail coming in and they talk about it in school, so it’s a little bit more of an accurate predictor to talk about candidate elections. We’ve only had one race in 10 years that wasn’t called by a mock election,” Dunlap said.
He couldn’t immediately recall what that race was.
“I’ve had campaign managers call me very worried late at night trying to interpret what the results of a mock election mean,” Dunlap said. “It does have an impact. I think some of these campaigns will change their trajectories a bit because of what kids say.”
Students from more than 155 Maine schools began voting in October for the offices of U.S. president and U.S. House of Representatives, as well as the six statewide referendum questions on the Nov. 8 election ballot.
In the race for president, Republican candidate Trump was the winner with 42.3 percent of the vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 39.5 percent. Trailing them were Libertarian Gary Johnson at 10.5 percent and Green Independent Jill Stein at 4.9 percent.
Democratic incumbent candidate Pingree beat out Republican challenger Mark Holbrook in the race for the 1st District seat with 53.6 percent of the vote to Holbrook’s 45.2 percent. Another 1.2 percent of the votes were cast for “other.”
In the 2nd District race, Poliquin was the winner with 55.4 percent of the vote to Democrat Emily Cain’s 43.9 percent, with 0.7 percent of the vote going to “other.”
Referendum questions seeking to raise the tax rate for income above $200,000 to increase state aid to education and implement ranked-choice voting, toughen background checks for firearms and increase the minimum wage all passed, as did a bond issue for transportation. A ballot question seeking to legalize marijuana for recreational use, however, failed.
The votes were counted at the Augusta Armory during a “Rally and Tally” event that offered students an opportunity to collect election results by phone and through the internet and report statewide results to the national mock election. They also heard from some candidates for office.
The firsthand civics lesson for Maine students was hosted by the Department of the Secretary of State and featured WCSH News Center anchor Katie Bavoso as emcee.
Several candidates and party representatives took the stage to address students, along with Dunlap. Gov. Paul LePage also met with students during the event.
The mock election program engages students in election-related activities, reinforcing the importance of participation in the democratic process.
Traveling to the armory to count ballots on Wednesday were students from schools in Castine, Calais, Augusta, China, Fort Kent, Readfield, Freeport, Thorndike, Paris, Hiram, Sebago, Liberty and Windsor.
For full results for the 2016 student mock election, visit maine.gov/mockelection/.