Gerald Weinand figures only about 300 people a day visit Dirigo Blue, the unabashedly Democratic blog he cranks out each day from his home in Rockland.

But in the wake of Tuesday’s trifecta by Maine’s Republicans — for the first time in almost a half-century, the GOP controls the Blaine House, the state Senate and (pending a few recounts) the House of Representatives — Democrats statewide would do well to consider this simple suggestion posted Wednesday by a Dirigo Blue reader, Bruce Bourgoine of Readfield:

“In reality the (Maine Democratic) party needs to hold a conclave tomorrow, not next year, to determine its direction. We need vigorous and deep-thinking inside leadership here. With Republicans in control of Maine state government, we must define ourselves anew.”

He can say that again.

It’s possible, if not productive, for some Maine Democrats to greet this week’s election returns with old-fashioned, glass-half-full optimism.

Yes, they admit, Democrat Libby Mitchell finished a stunningly distant third in her bid to succeed fellow Democrat Gov. John Baldacci, gracefully exiting the stage Tuesday night even before most of the voting results had come in.

But no, they counter, all was not lost — while dozens of other Democratic incumbents in Congress succumbed to the Republican wave that swept the country, Maine’s Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud managed to hang onto their House seats.

Yes, the Dems concede, Gov.-elect Paul LePage punched his ticket to the Blaine House on a razor-sharp GOP message of smaller government, less spending and, above all, jobs, jobs and more jobs for Maine’s moribund economy.

Yet at the same time, they note, voters approved two investments in Maine’s future — a $5 million bond issue for a dental school and clinics across Maine, and a $9.75 million bond issue to shore up the Land for Maine’s Future program.

But make no mistake about it. From the fractious Democratic primary in the spring to this fall’s eleventh-hour mass migration by Democrats away from Mitchell and toward independent Eliot Cutler, Maine’s onetime premiere political machine now finds itself in a shambles.

“The party did a good job getting people out to vote, which traditionally is what the Democratic Party does in a campaign year,” Arden Manning mused Thursday as he began dismantling the Dems’ Victory 2010 campaign. “It’s just that they didn’t vote the right way.”

Translation: Maine’s Democrats have a major salvage job on their hands.

“I think it’s an opportunity for the Maine Democratic Party to, quite frankly, hit the reset button, look in the mirror and say, ‘What do we want to be?’” said state Rep. Emily Cain, D-Orono, who thought she’d be making a bid for speaker of the House around now, but instead has her sights set on House minority leader.

The way Cain sees it, Maine’s Democrats still “have a lot of credibility on social issues, on issues of equality, on our social safety net in the state of Maine.”

None of which matters a whit when your side is getting hammered, week in and week out, on all things economic.

“The perception is that we are out of step with the business community — and that somehow we don’t get or understand the challenges that businesses small and large face in the state of Maine,” Cain said. “I personally don’t think that’s true. But in this type of environment, perception is reality.”

Rep. John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, the longtime House speaker who last found himself in the legislative minority way back in 1974, said the Democrat-controlled Legislatures of recent years made the mistake of “getting ahead of the voters” on social issues such as same-sex marriage and, on the money front, last year’s tax-reform package — which voters repealed in June.

“There was no Republican buy-in (to the tax package),” Martin noted. “That provided a great opportunity for the Republicans — and they used it to their advantage.”

Added Martin, “I think the message is that we need to concentrate to a greater degree on providing jobs, to be honest, and not do some of the issue things that we’ve dealt with.”

Beyond the State House, others take a more global view.

Rosa Scarcelli, the political newcomer who finished a strong third in June’s Democratic primary, sees Cutler’s so-close independent bid for the Blaine House as proof positive that Maine’s Democratic Party needs to “cast a wider net” for middle-of-the-road voters and candidates alike.

“Eliot was a Democrat. He’s a Democrat who didn’t want to run in a primary,” Scarcelli said. “We’ve got to fix that or we’re going to keep dividing the vote and this is going to become a chronic problem.”

At the same time, Scarcelli said, Democrats need to stop being so ideological and start accepting the fact that “there are good ideas across the board.”

“People are actually looking for their elected officials to be problem solvers,” she said, “not stake-in-the-ground ideologues.”

Then there’s the age thing.

Over at Dirigo Blue, Weinand can’t help but notice how well Maine’s Republicans have used think tanks like the Maine Heritage Policy Center as incubators for a new generation of young, energetic GOP activists.

When Weinand, 48, attends meetings of the Knox County Democratic Committee, he said, “I could easily be the youngest person in the room.”

“Is there a policy institute that’s leftist in Maine? Is there a counterpart to the Maine Heritage Policy Center in Maine?” Weinand asked. “I don’t think so.”

At least not yet.

Bourgoine, the Dirigo Blue poster who works as publisher of the periodical Maine Lawyer Review, said his call for a statewide gathering of Democrats aims not to point fingers about what went wrong in this historic election.

Rather, he said, it would be to come up with the one thing Maine’s Democrats clearly lacked heading into Tuesday: a clear, coherent message for an angry, impatient electorate.

“I think, ultimately, the Republican message in this election does not have depth, it’s not dimensional. And I think we’ll pay for that in the long run,” Bourgoine said. “We can build a message that is dimensional, that does have depth, that does resonate with people.

“But,” he added, “we’ve got some work to do.”

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:

[email protected]