This concerns the Press Herald’s editorial outrage over Republican ads supporting Cape Elizabeth Democrat Cynthia Dill for the U.S. Senate (“GOP group’s Dill ad cynicism at its worst,” Aug. 25).

Perhaps these ads will backfire, as the paper hopes, or perhaps not.

But if you are in a three-way race, attempting to equalize the vote between your two opponents seems to me to be a perfectly legitimate election strategy.

It is a strategy as old as the republic. Alexis de Toqueville mentioned it in his 1840’s book “Democracy in America”

It works in reverse, too. In 1992, conservatives divided their votes between Bush 41 and Ross Perot, allowing Bill Clinton to be elected president with only 43 percent of the vote.

I do not recall bumper stickers saying 57 percent of Americans opposed his presidency.

Perhaps conservatives are not such sore losers. Even in 1996, when Clinton clearly seemed to be doing a decent job (i.e., welfare reform, NAFTA, a strong economy, no serious international problems), conservatives again divided their vote between Perot and Bob Dole, allowing Clinton to win the presidency again, this time with 49 percent of the vote.

If Maine is really 60 percent liberal and 40 percent conservative, as the newspaper seems to indicate, then liberals in Maine have a very simple and effective strategy: Unify behind a single candidate.

If they cannot, don’t blame conservatives for trying to exploit their division.