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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is maine_us_congressional_district_2_since_2013.jpg

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 2016Obama margin of victory in 2012Obama margin of victory in 2008
Androscoggin County, Maine9.38%12.78%15.22%
Aroostook County, Maine17.19%7.62%9.58%
Franklin County, Maine5.47%18.41%20.29%
Kennebec County, Maine3.58%13.46%14.78%
Oxford County, Maine12.94%14.73%16.04%
Penobscot County, Maine10.91%2.93%5.12%
Somerset County, Maine22.67%1.68%5.70%
Washington County, Maine18.44%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

Bar Harbor2060628
Blue Hill1050477
Cranberry Isles2819
Cranberry Isles5412
Deer Isle665308
Great Pond1222
Mount Desert863317
Osborn — T22 MD Twp20
Southwest Harbor562303
Swans Island85101
Verona Island126124
Winter Harbor127142

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