AUGUSTA — Four years ago, the students who voted in the Maine Student Mock Election narrowly picked Republican Paul LePage for governor over independent Eliot Cutler. A few weeks later, voters in the statewide election followed suit.

If the students who vote in this year’s mock election again prove prophetic, LePage is headed for another four years in the Blaine House.

Thousands of students from across the state elected LePage over Democratic candidate Mike Michaud in this week’s mock election. LePage, who got 38.5 percent of the nearly 12,000 votes, edged Michaud, who finished with 35.8 percent. Cutler placed third with 25.4 percent.

Voting was nearly as tight in the 2nd Congressional District, where Democrat Emily Cain won with 40.9 percent of the vote. Republican Bruce Poliquin was close behind with 35.9 percent.

Voting in the 1st Congressional District, in which incumbent Democrat Chellie Pingree is heavily favored, was narrow in the student election. Pingree won, but with only 38 percent of the vote. Independent Richard Murphy got 34 percent of the vote.

Voting elsewhere on the ballot was more one-sided. The proposal for new bear hunting rules failed, with more than 53 percent voting to reject a ban on the use of bait, traps and dogs.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins cruised to re-election with more than 69 percent of the vote over challenger Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, who finished with 30 percent.

All six bond questions passed comfortably.

Students from 130 Maine schools cast ballots in voting that culminated Wednesday with a rally-and-tally event at the Augusta Armory. The gathering included speeches from, among others, Michaud and first lady Ann LePage. Students who attended the rally were given a chance to make stump speeches for candidates and vote in real voting booths provided by West Gardiner.

The statewide results will be provided to the national mock election program.

Though many of those who cast ballots are years away from being old enough to vote, the election has, in recent years at least, been a reliable predictor of statewide races.

The students have chosen the eventual winner in nearly every gubernatorial, congressional and Senate race since at least 2004. The lone exceptions are the 2008 1st Congressional District race, in which students picked Charlie Summers over Pingree, and the 2004 presidential election, in which George W. Bush and John Kerry tied.

In 2010, LePage won the mock election with 28.2 percent of the vote. Cutler finished second with 27.3 percent, and Democrat Libby Mitchell got 23.5 percent.

A few weeks later, LePage won the real election with 37.6 percent of the vote. Cutler finished second with 35.9 percent and Mitchell was third with 18.8 percent.

Michaud, who was a candidate in the 2nd District at the time, won the 2010 mock election with 57 percent of the vote over Jason Levesque. Michaud won the actual statewide election with 53 percent.

One of LePage’s supporters, 17-year-old Lydia Chick, a senior at Greater Portland Christian School in South Portland, said she is pleased with the governor’s effort during his term to pay off the state’s debt to hospitals and his attempts to roll back taxes. Chick, who described herself as conservative on both fiscal and social issues, said there is nothing the candidates could say that would cause her to change her vote.

“There’s nothing really shakeable,” she said.

That was a common sentiment among students at Wednesday’s rally. They said they came ready to vote for their favorite candidate, or at least knew the qualities their ideal candidate would possess.

“I want someone who really knows how to lead,” said Matt Hammond, an 18-year-old senior at Greater Portland Christian School. “I know where I stand and what I believe in.”

Hammond and other students from the school’s Advanced Placement government class went to the rally to help collect voting results.

David Frye, an 18-year-old senior in the class, said he is eager to vote for the first time in the real election next month. His interest in politics was sparked by family discussions around the dinner table and fueled by participating in model United Nations.

“I think I understand what I’m going to be voting on,” he said. “I’m excited to have my say.”

Frye described himself as a fiscal conservative with libertarian leanings.

“The less government involvement, the better,” he said.

Rhianna Claire, a 14-year-old freshman at the private Riley School in Rockport, said her global studies class spent the better part of the last month studying the political parties and news reports, then teaching what they learned to younger students at the school. She said she was “confident” about her vote.

Claire said she and her classmates tried to avoid debates in class.

“We’re all very opinionated. It gets a little heated,” she said. “I can see all three sides of the candidates’ views. I’m just sticking with my side.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

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