Is Maine’s 2nd District already in Donald Trump’s column?

Good morning from Augusta, where we’re seeing a normally Democratic Maine take perhaps its most prominent role in a presidential race in two decades because of its more conservative 2nd Congressional District.

On Monday, Sabato’s Crystal Ball switched the 2nd District from “Leans Democratic” to “Leans Republican,” amid national polls that are tightening in Republican Donald Trump’s favor.

Maine has supported Democrats in every presidential election since 1992, when Bill Clinton flipped the long-standing Republican state in his victory over President George H.W. Bush, who summers in Kennebunkport.

But 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is having more trouble here against Trump: She was up by just three points statewide in a poll released last week by The Boston Globe and down 10 points in the 2nd District, which is worth one electoral vote.

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, Clinton’s vice presidential nominee, told the Bangor Daily News before a Maine fundraiser on Thursday that “we really want to do what we can to win CD2.”

This also brought Matt Pinnell, the state party director for the National Republican Committee, to Maine this weekend for a confab with state party officials.

In an interview, he called the state “absolutely in play,” saying people are “tired of career politicians and ready for an outsider.” He said Trump may be doing well enough in the 2nd District to see a “coattail effect” in favor of other Republicans.

We haven’t seen much polling at that more granular level, but the Globe poll had 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican, up five points on Democrat Emily Cain, who’s challenging him in a 2014 rematch that’s one of the biggest House races in the country. Democrats led Republicans by four points statewide on a generic question about legislative races.

National Republicans hammered Cain in an ad that started airing earlier this month for her long-standing support of Clinton, but what’s notable about that attack is that Poliquin hasn’t endorsed Trump, going to great lengths not to talk about him publicly over the past year.

Pinnell said that shouldn’t make a difference to Trump or Poliquin in the 2nd District, saying “I think voters very rarely make that correlation” and “the important thing” is that Trump supports the House Republican platform.

It’s still hard to tell how Trump is changing politics in the 2nd District — if at all. But it’s clear that the district’s older, heavily white demographics are helping him push back against Maine’s presidential history. — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits

Reading list

Best of Maine’s Craigslist

  • “Optimist,” conspiracy theorist seeks same : A man new to Maine and seeking friends thinks all men he’s met here “are “Godless and Moralless and addicts”, but he’s “looking for someone who’s a optimist type as I tend to dislike people who dwell on negativity and spend their time complaining.” He’s also a Sept. 11th “truther” and if you’re not, “chances are your a sheeple and we won’t get along.” Here’s your soundtrack.
  • LePage wins in ‘Rants and Raves’: This Craigslist section is the site’s political haven, with LePage as its most popular figure. Least popular? Probably Clinton. But some guy named Gibby is also hated. — Michael Shepherd
Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.