Some of our readers have made great sport out of telling us how out of touch our newspapers are with Maine voters.

Our primary election endorsements, it seems, were as out of touch with the will of the people as President Obama and his staff are with their positive assessment of how well his administration is handling the oil spill.

We endorsed Pat McGowan, who finished fourth in the four-candidate Democratic race, and Steve Abbott, third-place finisher in the seven-man Republican election. State Senate President Libby Mitchell coasted to victory on the Democratic side and Waterville Mayor Paul LePage ran away with the Republican nomination.

Truth be known, we had members of our eight-person endorsement board who favored LePage but were narrowly outvoted.

We stuck with the majority and announced our picks to the world.

When you stick your neck out, as we do on endorsements, there are always those who want to put it on a chopping block. When the voters’ will runs contrary to the opinion of our endorsement board, some readers gleefully write to point out the error of our ways.

What they do not realize is that we are gleeful, too. Our smirks are self-directed; we get the jokes at our expense. And yet we do not feel that we “failed” with our endorsements, because our purpose was not to pick winners. We were simply expressing an opinion.

It is not our intention when we make an endorsement to get someone elected. We are not trying to tell people how to vote. Our goal is to provide grist for the before-and-after debates — among readers, voters and ourselves. We want to provide the public with the information we acquire in assessing the candidates and we want to encourage interest in the electoral process.

When we engender reaction, good or bad, to what we write and report, then we have fulfilled part of our mission. We want engagement with readers. We measure our audience every day. Ours is growing.

The notion we find curiously fascinating is how often in our endorsement meeting discussions we fall for the notion that Maine is different.

Here’s some news for you.

Our state isn’t different — at least not when it comes to the will of the people, to the wishes of the voters.

Here’s what Tuesday’s primary results indicated to us about Maine, and it demonstrates that we are very much like voters in other states.

Democrats want to elect someone who will fix their problems at all costs. They want their problems and those of their neighbors to go away. They want government salve for their wounds.

Who better to take on that task than legislative mainstay Libby Mitchell? She has power, understands its strength, knows how to use it and is not afraid to use it.

Republicans want government to get off their backs, to leave them alone. They value independence and self-reliance. Was there a candidate who embodied these principles and values more dramatically than Paul LePage?

Homeless at 11, one of 18 children in a family whose primary tongue was French, LePage not only learned to speak English, but also learned how to use the language to lead and inspire. He has achieved personal and business success by pushing himself to get advanced degrees, provide consulting services to businesses, and to help run one of Maine’s best-known retailers, Marden’s.

And what about independent voters?

Well, they are indeed independent and they are growing in number, both as a powerful voting bloc and as a factor in the voting booth. There are three independent candidates running for governor in the November general election. One of them, Eliot Cutler, has staked out the early ground as a serious challenger to the nominees representing the traditional political parties.

Voters are predictable. They follow traditional patterns of political preference regardless of zip code. And when they stray from traditional party candidates, they also have much in common, much that follows a pattern. They decide on a regular basis that they want change and will cast aside party bias or loyalty to achieve it.

If our editorial board wanted to be “right” we would have endorsed based on these predictable voter habits.

We would have recognized that although we treasure our state for its uniqueness and love its countless special qualities, the truth is that Mainers are no less predictable than voters in every other state in the nation.

Richard L. Connor is CEO of MaineToday Media, owner of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. A newspaperman for 40 years, he has served on two Pulitzer Prize for Journalism nominating committees. He can be reached at:

[email protected]