AUGUSTA — Tens of thousands more Maine Democrats voted in the last election than did Republicans, amid a burst in turnout among Democrats energized by opposition to President Trump.

Nearly 42,000 more Democrats cast ballots in November than did Republicans – roughly three times the gaps seen in 2010 and 2014 – according to an analysis of state voting data by The Associated Press.

That could prove “worrisome” for Republicans in Maine and especially for Republican Sen. Susan Collins if, as expected, she chooses to seek re-election in 2020, said University of New England political science professor Brian Duff.

“I think it’s going to be an incredibly tricky year for her, especially if the Democrats find a strong candidate,” Duff said.

Maine’s partisan breakdown remained roughly the same between 2010 and 2018: A third of registered voters are Democrats, while 27 percent are Republican. The rest are independents or Greens.

But in 2018, more of those Democrats headed to the polls than have in recent midterm elections. Roughly 70 percent of registered Democratic voters cast ballots in November, up from 61 percent in 2010.


Republicans also saw 70 percent turnout, but that’s been more typical for the party in recent elections. In 2010, 68 percent voted. Independent voter turnout was also up, from 45 percent in 2010 to 51 percent last year.

The figures in Maine reflect what happened nationally in 2018: Turnout, driven by both support for and opposition to Trump, was unusually high for a midterm election.

“Whether you love him or you hate him, he inflames passions. And so I think that in 2020, it very well could be another very special year in terms of turnout,” said University of Florida political science professor Michael McDonald, who compiles voting data through the U.S. Election Project.

The AP analysis included a comparison between turnout in 2010 – when Maine voted in a new Republican governor and a Republican-led Legislature amid a tea party wave – to November, when Democrats turned the tide to control both the state Senate and House and elect Maine’s first female governor.

Enthusiasm appears to be growing among Democratic voters as Maine’s population shrinks in rural, conservative areas and grows in suburban communities.

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