The combination of gerrymandering and geography that helped Republicans build an advantage in U.S. House seats by drawing new districts after the 2010 census has been largely absent in Maine.
Maine Democrats and Republicans are largely happy with a reapportionment that left the current congressional districts mostly intact.
Republicans initially tried to redraw the lines to divide Maine’s two congressional districts into an east-west configuration instead of north-south. But in the end, Maine’s districts remained much the same as they had been even as gerrymandering produced odd-shaped districts in such states as Ohio, Michigan and North Carolina.
Under the compromise, Waterville and Winslow became part of the 1st District. Lewiston and Auburn remained in the 2nd District, and 11 municipalities shifted to that district: Unity Township, Albion, Sidney, Belgrade, Rome, Vienna, Mount Vernon, Gardiner, West Gardiner, Monmouth and Randolph.
The plan left the hometown of Democratic U.S. Rep Chellie Pingree, North Haven, in the 1st District.
The bipartisanship from 2011 was in sharp contrast to a decade earlier, when the Legislature was unable to agree on redrawing the lines and the matter went to the state’s highest court.
Democrats retain an edge in both districts, but it’s possible that the change could favor the Republican candidate over the Democrat if there’s a razor-thin margin in their race for the 2nd District seat left open by six-term Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud’s decision to run for governor.
In the end, the Republican could gain “a couple thousands votes” in the 2nd District, the more conservative of the state’s two congressional districts, said David Emery, a former Republican congressman who worked on the plan.
Mainers also approved a constitutional amendment in 2011 to bring the state into sync with the rest of the nation when it comes to congressional redistricting deadlines. That shifted reapportionment of congressional, legislative and county commissioner districts from 2023 to 2021. Redistricting would then occur every 10 years after 2021.