Three Maine political scientists say Angus King’s a shoo-in for the state’s open Senate seat, the state’s same-sex marriage question hangs in the balance and Maine’s two U.S. representatives are safe.
Also, they say the race for control of the Maine Legislature is nip-and-tuck, and Republican Mitt Romney shouldn’t count on taking an electoral vote from Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.
Our three professors are Jim Melcher at the University of Maine at Farmington, Mark Brewer at the University of Maine and Ronald Schmidt at the University of Southern Maine. They didn’t diverge on much.
SENATE: King (I) vs. Charlie Summers (R) vs. Cynthia Dill (D)
Melcher: “I don’t think there’s much reason to think he’s not going to be in good shape on Election Day,” he said of King. Prediction: King, with around 50 percent.
Brewer: He said Dill’s percentage will directly affect King’s, but not enough to tip the election. “Does she get 12 (percent), does she get 15? I don’t think she gets 20.” Prediction: King. “It’s just a matter of margin.”
Schmidt: “Both parties were really caught flat-footed” by Snowe’s decision not to run, he said. “Neither of the major party candidates has caught up.” Prediction: King, with around 50 percent.
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: Yes vs. No
Melcher: “The closer you get to the election, the more the support for the changing position goes down,” he said. He thinks the race will be tighter than recent polls show because of gay marriage’s tendency to underperform at the ballot box. Prediction: In “razor-close” election, same-sex marriage becomes Maine law with no more than a five-point spread between sides.
Brewer: He praised both sides of the campaign for playing to their bases, saying “I think the grass-roots efforts by the opposition have been very effective.” He thinks Maine’s population has shifted since 2009 to support the social change, and it’ll be the difference. Prediction: Same-sex marriage becomes legal, with between 50.5 percent and 52 percent of the vote.
Schmidt: Though he said “both sides on the question have extremely effective get-out-the-vote efforts in place,” both Democrats and liberals will be more motivated to turn out this time around. Prediction: None. It will be close. “My gut tells me same-sex marriage will win,” but not for any empirical reason.
1st Congressional District: Jonathan Courtney (R) vs. Chellie Pingree (D)
Melcher: He praised challenger Courtney’s campaign, saying though it’s been under the radar, it’s been effective. “I think he’s helped himself toward the end.” Still, he said, it won’t be enough. Prediction: Pingree, by between 15 percent and 20 percent.
Brewer: No surprises. “It’ll be big.” Prediction: Pingree, probably in the high-50s percentage-wise.
Schmidt: He doesn’t expect Courtney to pull off the upset. Prediction: Pingree in the 50s.
2nd Congressional District: Mike Michaud (D) vs. Kevin Raye (R)
Melcher: Though Raye’s run a good campaign and has likely taken some support from Michaud, it won’t be enough. Prediction: Michaud, by “high single digits” percentage point-wise.
Brewer: Praised Raye for partially closing the gap on Michaud. “Until last week I really thought Mike was going to win pretty handily.” Prediction: Michaud by a few points.
Schmidt: Michaud’s northern Maine institutionalization and attention to key district issues will be too much for Raye to overcome. Prediction: Michaud, probably closer to four points than 20.
2ND DISTRICT PRESIDENTIAL RACE: Barack Obama (D) vs. Mitt Romney (R)
Melcher: “I would not be shocked to see the 2nd District go to Romney,” he said, though he said it’s not the most likely scenario. Prediction: Obama wins by a few points.
Brewer: Like Melcher, he wouldn’t be surprised if Romney won in the district, but won’t bet on it. Prediction: Obama by a few.
Schmidt: He sees potential for Romney to make gains there. “Honestly, I was a little surprised at how well Obama did in northern Maine in 2008,” he said. Prediction: Still, Obama wins narrowly.
BOND ISSUES: Questions 2-5
Melcher: He said Gov. Paul LePage and State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin could have galvanized some Republicans against borrowing, putting one or two bonds in danger of not passing. Prediction: Transportation bond will pass; one, likely either the education or environmental bonds, could likely fail.
Brewer: “I would say at least one of them will fail. Which one? No idea.” Prediction: None.
Schmidt: No thoughts.
Melcher: With well-known former Democratic incumbents entering into races they lost in 2010, a Republican wave year, GOP seats should be lost. Prediction: Republicans lose one chamber and hold the other. He wouldn’t guess which one’s which.
Brewer: For Republicans, winning the House in 2010 “was a big shocker.” This year, “I think it’s even tougher sledding in those districts.” Prediction: Democrats take House; Senate might as well be a coin toss.
Schmidt: Said it was close, but didn’t venture any guesses. Prediction: None.