Former Vice President Joe Biden won Maine in Tuesday’s election, taking three of its four Electoral College votes behind a solid lead in the 1st Congressional District while President Donald Trump led the swing 2nd District and remains competitive nationally.
Maine is one of two states to award one Electoral College vote to the winner in each congressional district and gives another two to the statewide winner. The state’s two districts saw a massive 30-percentage-point gap between Biden and Trump as the cultural and political phenomenon of “the two Maines” heightened in the 2020 election.
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The single elector from the swing 2nd District, which Trump won by 10 percentage points in 2016, could come into play as the election remains elusive. Key states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin all continue to count mail-in ballots, a process which could take several days. Trump won Florida and Texas — two must-wins for him — while Georgia and North Carolina remained too close to call early Wednesday.
Biden had 53.5 percent of votes statewide to Trump’s 43.7 percent as of 2:30 a.m. with 84 percent of precincts reporting on Wednesday. The Bangor Daily News and Decision Desk HQ called the statewide outcome at 2:39 a.m. on Wednesday and the 2nd District at 10:26 a.m.
At that time, the Democrat led Trump by nearly 23 points in the 1st District. In the 2nd District, Trump led In the 2nd District, Trump led with 52.1 percent of votes to 45.1 percent for Biden, a difference of seven percentage points.
Trump visited Maine five times ahead of his 2016 election, came back twice this year, and made overtures to key industries by opening federal aid to fishermen harmed by the president’s trade war with China and visiting a medical swab manufacturer in June that expanded with federal funding this spring. The president hewed to economic arguments made by surrogates here when he visited a Levant orchard in October, days after Vice President Mike Pence headlined a Hermon rally. Democrats noted that the trade war led to a drop in lobster exports and blasted Trump for his handling of the coronavirus. The election came as cases surged in Maine and the U.S., which has the fifth-highest mortality rate among countries, according to Johns Hopkins University.
MAINE ELECTION RESULTS
Election results were coming in swiftly in Maine amid a record surge of absentee voting during the pandemic, in contrast to places across the country. As of Sunday, nearly 488,000 people successfully cast absentee ballots, or roughly 63 percent of voters in 2016. Turnout doubled among young Maine voters in a shift that could bend the election toward Democrats.
Katrina Pound, 41, of Rockland, voted for Biden on Tuesday saying it was “terrifying to think that we could have another four years with the current administration.”
Up the coast in Belfast, Jason Ellsworth, 39, voted for Trump, saying he thought the president “did a great job” and the country was in a good place before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
This year’s presidential election in Maine was the first in U.S. history to be decided by ranked-choice voting, but it may not make a difference as Biden and Trump held majorities in each congressional district and the Democrat had one statewide. It came after state and national Republicans worked to prevent ranked-choice voting from being used in the contest after the voting method was expanded in 2019 by the Democratic-led Maine Legislature to apply to presidential elections.
Earlier this year, the Maine Republican Party launched a people’s veto effort that would have blocked the voting method’s use in the presidential election, but Secretary of State Matt Dunlap determined it did not get enough valid signatures to get on the ballot. Maine courts agreed with Dunlap and the U.S. Supreme Court turned down a request to hear Republicans’ case.
BDN writers Lauren Abbate and Abigail Curtis contributed to this report.