Tuesday June 19, 2012 | 05:13 PM

USA Today is the latest in a parade of national media to come all the way up to Maine to ask Angus King the question: Who will you caucus with if you get elected to the U.S. Senate?

It also is the latest to go away with the same non-answer:  "I don't answer that question because I don't know," King told USA TODAY.
 
The caucus question has consumed national observers of the Maine race.
 
That’s partly because King’s decision could determine which party controls the Senate’s leadership, committee assignments and agenda.
 
It also is because it’s hard to imagine – outside of Maine, anyway  – that voters could support a candidate without knowing which party he will side with.
 
Up here, of course, it doesn’t seem so strange given that King has already been a governor without a party. Independents make up the state's biggest block of voters.
 
Being the one senator out of 100 without a party is very different from being the one and only governor, of course, which is why King’s answer isn’t likely to change no matter how many times he’s asked. The possibility he could hand one party leadership of the Senate after the election would be a huge bargaining chip for a freshman senator, especially one with no party backing him up.
 
A WBUR poll released yesterday suggested that King’s non-answer to the caucus question is not a problem for Maine voters, at least not yet. Half of those surveyed said they support the former governor, more than twice the support for either of the candidates with party credentials. 
 
From USA TODAY: "King's decision has become a fixation in Washington. 'There is a 50-50 proposition,' said Jennifer Duffy, an analyst for The Cook Political Report. The consequence of King's decision has been a non-issue in Maine. 'There doesn't seem to be a lot of partisan loyalty (in Maine),' Duffy said. 'This whole notion of somebody not declaring a party and people not caring, apparently isn't that crazy.'"

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Open Season is your guide to the 2014 campaign. Our team of political writers has its sights set on Maine’s major elections, from the Blaine House to the U.S. Capitol.

Steve Mistler is covering the 2014 governor's race. He covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.
Steve can be reached at 791-6345 or smistler@pressherald.com.
On Twitter: @stevemistler

Eric Russell is covering Independent Eliot Cutler during the 2014 governor's race. He is a general assignment reporter for the Portland Press Herald.
Eric can be reached at 791-6344 or erussell@pressherald.com
On Twitter: @pphericrussell

Matt Byrne is covering Republican Paul LePage during the 2014 governor's race. He covers Falmouth, Cumberland, North Yarmouth, Yarmouth and Freeport for the Portland Press Herald.
Matt can be reached at 791-6303 or mbyrne@pressherald.com
On Twitter: @mattbyrnePPH

Randy Billings is covering Democrat Mike Michaud during the 2014 governor's race. He covers Portland City Hall for the Portland Press Herald.
Randy can be reached at 791-6346 or rbillings@pressherald.com
On Twitter: @randybillings

Kevin Miller is covering Maine's U.S. Senate race and 1st Congressional District race. He covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald.
Kevin can be reached at 317-6256 or kmiller@pressherald.com
On Twitter: @kevinmillerdc

Michael Shepherd is covering Maine's 2nd Congressional District race. He is a news and State House reporter for the Kennebec Journal.
Michael can be reached at 621-5632 or mshepherd@centralmaine.com
On Twitter: @mikeshepherdME

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