Democrats showed a greater willingness to get to the polls for their party’s competitive gubernatorial primary than Republicans did Tuesday, demonstrating expected enthusiasm from the party currently out of the Blaine House.
Republicans had about 34 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in the governor’s race, compared with 38 percent of Democrats, based on preliminary results tabulated by the Bangor Daily News as of Friday afternoon.
That’s a flip from 2010, the most recent race for governor with no incumbent among the contenders. But Democrats in 2018 didn’t match Republicans’ enthusiasm eight years ago. In that race, 48 percent of Republicans turned out and the party picked Gov. Paul LePage, the eventual successor to Democrat John Baldacci.
While Democratic turnout was stronger than Republican turnout on Tuesday, it was only narrowly ahead of turnout in 2010. That could be a good sign for Republican nominee Shawn Moody, who crushed three others in the Republican primary on Tuesday, with a campaign staff that includes veterans of LePage’s 2010 run.
Overall, voting Tuesday came in far lower than in 2010. About 250,000 voters participated in that primary, compared with about 213,000 as of Friday afternoon.
While Democratic turnout was stronger statewide, it wasn’t stronger everywhere. Republican voters formed a vein of higher turnout running mostly through the middle of the state, from Lyman to Jay and Waldoboro to Fort Kent.
Democrats posted higher turnout along the coast and in the western mountains, though Republicans had stronger turnout in the coastal town of Waldoboro and most of Washington County. The parties divided many areas of the lakes region.
The greater Democratic turnout statewide stood to benefit the only statewide referendum question, to preserve a new ranked-choice voting system used for the first time in any statewide election on Tuesday. The measure passed with about 54 percent of the vote.
The system promises to give greater representation to candidates outside of the two-party system, though a constitutional flaw in the law will keep it out of use for state-level general elections.
It’s unclear how many of the voters on that measure Tuesday were unenrolled. As of Friday afternoon, fewer ballots were cast on the referendum question than the primary races for governor.
Editor’s note: This story was updated Friday afternoon to reflect more complete vote totals.
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