QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It is historic. We’ve never seen anything like this,” Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said of Maine’s voter turnout, which was expected to set records once all towns were tallied. “The discussion around our national future, or the future of our state and future of our individual communities, is really what’s generated this election to record numbers.”
What we are watching today
In a heavily partisan environment, ticket-splitters seem likely to decide Maine’s surprising and varied elections. Former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, cruised to a victory in Maine statewide — though the presidential race remains deeply uncertain nationally — while Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, has all but clinched a fifth term over House Speaker Sara Gideon. Democrats appeared to win both congressional races relatively easily.
Our sleep-deprived brains may not be able to fully process the results so far, but this election is going to lead to weeks and months of analysis of how polling and conventional wisdom missed the mark this year. Collins trailed in every public, independent survey of her race this year. Those polls captured a wide amount of ticket-splitting, but not as much as we saw yesterday.
Across Maine, Collins is running far ahead of President Donald Trump, her party’s nominee. The incumbent Republican sits at 50.5 percent of votes, potentially positioning her to avoid a ranked-choice runoff, compared with 43.6 percent for the president. Trump is up in the 2nd Congressional District, with 52 percent of votes, compared with 45.2 percent for Biden. But Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat from Lewiston, is also looking at a victory with 53.4 percent of votes.
Polls in the past few months indicated that ticket-splitting likely to benefit both Collins and Golden — who showed crossover appeal with voters who preferred the other party’s presidential nominee — more than others. Gideon is in a poor position because she could not keep up with fellow Democrats at the top of the ticket.
You see this most strikingly in the towns that backed Trump, Collins and Golden. Those towns include Rumford — which we profiled before the election — as well as Brewer, Ellsworth, Jay and Millinocket. In Sanford, Biden, Collins and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree won. These places were the story of this election as we know it.
The Maine politics top 3
— “Maine Democrats oust top GOP lawmaker, but Republicans gain House seats in mixed election,” Caitlin Andrews, Bangor Daily News: “Minority Republicans gained at least eight seats in the Maine House of Representatives on Tuesday, but Democrats unseated the top Senate Republican in a mixed election that will only slightly change the political landscape in the second half of Gov. Janet Mills’ first term.”
— “Portland boosts minimum wage to $15 as it passes wave of progressive policies,” Nick Schroeder, BDN: “Voters passed four of five measures progressive activists got onto the ballot Tuesday, including one that will push the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour and cap increases on rent. The other measures will bolster an existing ban on the public use of facial recognition software and enact new environmental standards for publicly funded housing developments.”
A coastal town also upped its minimum wage. Voters in Rockland approved hiking the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024, with 65 percent in favor. The law only applies to businesses with more than 25 employees.
— “Maine regulators deny requests to reconsider renewable energy projects,” Lori Valigra, BDN: “I find that the procurement was conducted fairly, consistent with statutory requirements and the procurement announcement,” said commission Chairman Philip Bartlett while dismissing Clearway Renew LLC of California Longroad Energy of Massachusetts’ complaints that the bid process for state renewable energy project was flawed.
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd and Jessica Piper. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, email firstname.lastname@example.org (we’re setting up a new subscriber page soon) to subscribe to it via email.
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