Mount Desert’s out-sized influence on national politics …

SOMESVILLE. May 11, 2020 – Maine’s Second Congressional District was the only one which gave Donald Trump an electoral vote from the Northeast. And our county, Hancock, was the only one in CD2 Trump did not carry. Jared Golden is the district congressman because of the heavy support from Mount Desert. He won by only 3,500 votes in 2018.

And your vote will help decide whether the United States Senate will stay a Republican-controlled chamber. Hardly a day goes by when the national press fails to include Maine in their breathless coverage.

But the fact is that Maine is now regarded as a critical battleground state, and District 2 (in green below) – sans Portland and Augusta – is really the entire battleground.

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Hillary Clinton carried District 1 easily, and because she won the majority of the popular vote in Maine she also received the two at-large electoral votes. But she won the state by only 22,000 votes and she lost District 2 to Trump by 10 percent.

District 2 has other distinctions. The Trump victory in 2016 marked the first time Maine has split its electoral votes (3-1) – one of only two states with that mechanism. The other is Nebraska, with five votes. The Second District also has eight counties which were part of 206 “pivot counties” in the country which went from supporting Barack Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016.

Pivot counties
  Trump margin of victory in 2016 Obama margin of victory in 2012 Obama margin of victory in 2008
Androscoggin County, Maine 9.38% 12.78% 15.22%
Aroostook County, Maine 17.19% 7.62% 9.58%
Franklin County, Maine 5.47% 18.41% 20.29%
Kennebec County, Maine 3.58% 13.46% 14.78%
Oxford County, Maine 12.94% 14.73% 16.04%
Penobscot County, Maine 10.91% 2.93% 5.12%
Somerset County, Maine 22.67% 1.68% 5.70%
Washington County, Maine 18.44% 1.60% 1.01%

Mount Desert Island is clearly out of step with the rest of District 2 with the exception of liked-minded Blue Hill.

If each vote carried a weight, there is none in the United States which indexes higher than a vote here on the Quietside. That is the reason I registered to vote here instead of Connecticut, where I have another house.

A reader challenged my assertion that Mount Desert made the difference in Jared Golden’s 2018 victory in Maine’s Congressional District 2:

“I dispute your conclusion that Golden won because of Mt. Desert support.  For the first time in Maine history, we had ranked choice voting.  Will Hoar (son-in-law of Dick Wolfe) and Tiffany Bond (both independents) amassed about 8% of the vote and thus, when those votes were added to Golden’s total,  the key 1% majority on the “second ballot”.

I thanked the reader for holding my feet to the fire when it comes to accuracy.

My reply:

First of all, not all of Bond and Hoar’s votes went to Golden. About 10,000 of Bond’s votes went to Golden and 5,000 to Bruce Poliquin. Hoar’s percentage was a bit higher for Golden. Counting their votes in the second ballot put Golden over the top by 2,906 votes, from a first ballot deficit of about 2,000. But a closer look at the vote count for Hancock County, particularly the four Mount Desert towns where Golden won by huge margins, shows a difference of about 3,400 votes on MDI. Bar Harbor went 2,060 for Golden versus 638 for Poliquin. Without that overwhelming support from these four towns, the votes from the second ballot from the two Independents wouldn’t have mattered.

I do regret one oversight. I should have included our neighbors to the west as like-minded. Blue Hill, Deer Isle, Penobscot, Stonington, Castine, Brooklin, Brooksville, Sedgwick and Surry also should be credited for the Golden victory.

So, while I acknowledge that the sui generis characteristics of Maine’s Ranked Choice voting made for a compelling story, the truth is that the influence of Mount Desert in the Second District was as stated in earlier report.

Here is how Hancock County voted in 2018:

                                                           Golden         Poliquin

Amherst 50 83
Aurora 21 29
Bar Harbor 2060 628
Blue Hill 1050 477
Brooklin 354 148
Brooksville 365 169
Bucksport 977 998
Castine 284 141
Cranberry Isles 28 19
Cranberry Isles 54 12
Dedham 438 445
Deer Isle 665 308
Eastbrook 45 86
Ellsworth 694 528
Ellsworth 274 278
Ellsworth 233 291
Ellsworth 536 513
Franklin 267 319
Frenchboro 10 1
Gouldsboro 411 430
Great Pond 12 22
Hancock 486 541
Lamoine 470 433
Mariaville 87 123
Mount Desert 863 317
Orland 584 471
Osborn 8 26
Osborn — T22 MD Twp 2 0
Otis 114 244
Penobscot 418 231
Sedgwick 394 221
Sorrento 91 74
Southwest Harbor 562 303
Stonington 316 142
Sullivan 289 226
Surry 491 353
Swans Island 85 101
Tremont 460 282
Trenton 380 311
Verona Island 126 124
Waltham 53 107
Winter Harbor 127 142