PORTLAND – Maine is unique, as we all know. That’s especially true in politics.

For starters, it’s the only state that’s had an independent governor for 12 of the past 36 years. And on Nov. 2, we almost extended that record when independent Eliot Cutler narrowly lost the gubernatorial race to Republican Paul LePage.

A closer look at this election shows that Maine stands out politically in other ways as well. The election seems to confirm something about the craggy independence of Maine voters.

They apparently want to keep party leaders on their toes by never choosing a governor from the outgoing governor’s party.

The last election in which a sitting governor saw someone from his own party (or non-party, in the case of independents) elected to succeed him was Sept. 8, 1958. (I use “him” advisedly; we’ve never had a woman governor.)

In other words, it’s been more than 52 years since a governor of Maine has been able to pass control of the Blaine House to a successor from his own party or political persuasion.

No other American state can make that claim. It’s the current national record.

With the election of Paul LePage, it will now be at least 2014 before Maine has a chance to break this streak and elect someone from the same party as the outgoing governor.

What does this strange pattern signify? One could attribute it to the sturdy individualism of the Maine voter, but that explanation takes us nowhere, because the pattern doesn’t hold for other political offices.

At the U.S. Senate level, Republican Bill Cohen was succeeded by Republican Susan Collins, and Democrat Ed Muskie was succeeded by Democrat George Mitchell. At the U.S. House level, John Baldacci was succeeded by Mike Michaud, and Chellie Pingree followed Tom Allen — Democrats all.

So Mainers aren’t opposed to continuing the same party in office. They just balk at doing so for governor.

Perhaps the greater power that governors have over people’s immediate lives and livelihoods brings out that famous independent Maine streak, making us reluctant to let any one party have lasting power at the executive level.

Mainers have another political tendency that sets them apart from most other states. Although they don’t keep the same party long in the Blaine House, they always give the current governor a second term, if he wants it. Not since 1966 has a sitting governor been defeated for re-election. Only a handful of states match or exceed this pattern.

We like our governors, but once they’re not on the ballot, we withhold our support from anyone in the governor’s party.

There’s one more unusual thing Maine voters did this year. Maine is one of just two states to overturn its political establishment in the most dramatic way. Only in Maine and Wisconsin have conservative Republicans seized power from liberal Democrats in all three of the state’s political institutions.

Before this election the governorship, the House of Representatives and the Senate in both states were all in the hands of Democrats. Now they are all controlled by Republicans.

This development represents a major political upheaval. Our two parties hold divergent political beliefs, promote different issues, and represent different constituencies.

Sometimes a middle ground can emerge from political maneuvering under divided government (one party controls one institution, the other party controls another). But moderation will likely be absent in Maine (and many other states) for at least the next two years.

To the winners belong the spoils, and strong conservatives have suddenly found themselves in complete charge of Maine policymaking for the first time since the 1960s.

This is a cause of joy for some and sorrow for others, but of this there can be no doubt: Maine politics is going to take a strong turn toward the right side of the spectrum.

It’s been so long since conservatives have governed here that it’s hard to predict just what will come next.

Lower taxes, fewer regulations on business, and cuts in state services will be high on the agenda.

Whether the conservative social agenda will be implemented is still uncertain. But the moderate to liberal policies that have dominated outcomes in Maine government for decades are gone for now.