As Nate Silver tilts CD2 toward Clinton, Trump sends a son to Maine

Good morning from Augusta, where at least one poll data cruncher is saying Maine’s 2nd Congressional District isn’t a lock for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump after all., one of the leading data journalism organizations whose bread and butter is election predictions — which is led by Nate Silver, who is probably the nation’s preeminent politics predictor — has been saying since early September that Trump was ahead in the 2nd District, which could have translated to Trump taking one of Maine’s four electoral votes, splitting them for the first time in history. However, in the past few days the organization has shifted its view and predicted that Democrat Hillary Clinton has a 51.4 percent chance of beating Trump in the district.

Less than a month ago, on Sept. 26, FiveThirtyEight put Trump’s chances of winning the 2nd District at more than 75 percent.

As with all poll-based predictions, and probably most predictions period, FiveThirtyEight’s prognostications aren’t perfect. For example, the swing is based largely on an Oct. 14-15 poll from the Maine People’s Resource Center, which is a staunch ally of the liberal Maine People’s Alliance, and an Oct. 10-11 internal poll for Democrats by Clarity Campaign labs. Both of those polls showed the race within 1 percentage point.

The Trump campaign clearly still has hope and is acting on it. The candidate’s son, Donald Trump Jr., has committed to visit Maine on Tuesday according to the Maine Republican Party. Here’s the itinerary:

  • 9:45 a.m. at Howell’s Indoor Range and Gun Shop at 81 West Road in Gray;
  • 10:45 a.m. at Trump Headquarters at 120 Center Street in Auburn;
  • 11:30 a.m. at Simone’s Hot Dog Stand at 99 Chestnut Street in Lewiston.

The candidate has visited Maine four times, and one of the Republican’s elusive and slim-looking paths to victory includes winning one of Maine’s Electoral College votes, if not three of them.

Meanwhile, Clinton isn’t backing down and is committing some of her resources to down-ballot races, including the rematch between incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin and Democrat Emily Cain in Maine’s 2nd District. The Clinton campaign announced last week that among other spending, it is pouring nearly $250,000 on get-out-the-vote efforts in Maine and Nebraska, which is the only other state that splits its Electoral College votes.

The Clinton campaign has also announced a new six-figure ad buy in the Bangor and Presque Isle media markets. You can see those ads here and here.

Election Day is bearing down on us but this thing is far from over, at least in Maine. — Christopher Cousins

Maine finance commissioner vs. Maine state auditor

Last week, Maine State Auditor Pola Buckley issued a report that found the Maine Department of Health and Human Services misspent $13.4 million in federal welfare funds, routing money meant for low-income families with children to seniors and disabled Mainers. That finding followed BDN reporting from over the summer.

On Friday, the Department of Administrative and Financial Services pushed back, calling Buckley’s findings “political gamesmanship.” Buckley is one of Maine’s constitutional officers who is elected by the Legislature and Finance Commissioner Richard Rosen suggested she was motivated by her desire to be re-elected.

“We unconditionally reject the state auditor’s allegation that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services erred in its handling of $13.4 million in federal funding,” said Rosen in a news release. “DHHS acted within the constraints of all internal financial controls and consulted with my department before making any transfers. The real story here is more about Auditor Buckley’s lack of objectivity and underlying motivations.”

State Controller Doug Cotnoir agreed.

“The tone of her recent finding, its method of release and the speed with which it found its way into the hands of the media calls into question her objectivity,” said Cotnoir in a written statement.

The report is a public document, which makes moot the question of how it got to the media, and Buckley noted in the audit report that state law requires the state auditor to “immediately” notify the governor and the Legislature of any “evidences of improper transactions, or of unacceptable practices in keeping accounts or handling funds or of any other improper practice of financial administration.”

DAFS released an annotated copy of Buckley’s report to support its case.

Buckley said this morning that she did what she did because she felt DHHS was violating state laws.

“The reason this report was unusual and reported outside the ordinary timing was because it looked suspicious,” said Buckley. “I’m only one person ultimately and when something looks suspicious to me I’m required to report it out in a timely manner. … We would not write a finding if we thought they were following the rules.” — Christopher Cousins


Quick hits

  • Pouring money on Clinton: The Washington Post on Sunday published an article about Hillary Clinton’s fundraising machine, which helped her raise more than $1 billion for her presidential campaign. The person at the top of the list is none other than hedge fund manager S. Donald Sussman, the former husband of Maine 1st District U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree and former owner of the Maine Today Media newspapers. According to the Post, Sussman donated some $20.6 million to Clinton.
  • ‘Maine Center’ approved at UMaine: The University of Maine System Board of Trustees approved a major new graduate studies program called the Maine Center for Graduate Professional Studies on Sunday. The program, which will be developed in coming years, will put law, business and public policy programs under one roof and feature new connections with Maine’s business community. System Chancellor James Page has been authorized to seek $15 million in grants to get the project started.
  • Libertarians unite: Libertarian vice presidential candidate Bill Weld will appear today at Central Maine Community College in Auburn as part of the Our America Liberty Tour. Also appearing at the event will be comedian Jerry McLellan and Jim Bouchard, who is a write-in candidate in Maine’s 1st Congressional District.

Reading list

Baseball is no laughing matter

The Chicago Cubs broke their 71-year pennant drought Saturday night with a 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. In doing so, they saved noted Cubs fan Bill Murray from a huge conflict. Murray was due to be in Washington, D.C., on Sunday to receive an award for lifetime achievement in comedy. Had the Cubs lost Saturday, he might have had to choose between D.C. and Wrigley Field for Game 7.

“Ugh. If this [NLCS] goes to a Game 6 or 7, which it is going to, I’m not going to be there. I’m going to be there [at the Kennedy Center] having people say, ‘Oh, he’s a funny, funny man.’ I’d much rather be sitting there in a good box seat at Wrigley Field,” he told the Washington Post.

Here is your soundtrack.

(Hat tip to BDN editor and expert of all things baseball Robert Long for this item.)

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.