For the first time, a major national politics prognosticator has moved Maine’s 2nd Congressional District race out of the toss-up category.

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden speaking in Maine last year. AP Photo/David Sharp, File

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball on Thursday shifted Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden’s reelection bid to its “leans Democratic” category, indicating that Republicans are less likely to win it.

Sabato’s outfit in Virginia called Republican challenger Dale Crafts of Lisbon credible but underfunded.

It also said the presidential electoral vote in the sprawling, mostly rural district, which President Donald Trump won in 2016 “seems likelier than not to remain in Trump’s possession.”

But, it said, Trump “may be hard-pressed to replicate his 10-point districtwide victory” in this year’s race, which would lessen his impact on the congressional contest.

Sabato, a professor at the University of Virginia, is among a few experts widely recognized as such in predicting the outcome of political races nationally.

Perhaps the most respected, The Cook Political Report, still calls the 2nd Congressional District race a toss-up.

Republican congressional candidate Dale Crafts of Lisbon speaking with voters at Longley School this summer. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

His Crystal Ball cited Golden as one of two Democrats whose 2018 victories “were at least somewhat surprising” given the lopsided wins Trump posted in them two years earlier.

Given the president’s poll numbers, which show Democrat Joe Biden ahead, the GOP may have a bit harder time up and down the ballot in November, experts say.

“Any little bit closer” for Biden in the Maine district “will benefit Golden,” the Crystal Ball said.

It also noted that Golden, a resident of Lewiston, benefited in 2018 from the state’s new ranked-choice voting system that propelled the Democrat to victory after he trailed in the first round of voting against two-term incumbent Republican Bruce Poliquin.

More of the second-place picks from independent candidates’ ballots went to Golden than Poliquin, pushing the Democrat into the lead last time around. This year, though, it’s a straight-up race between Golden and Crafts “so RCV shouldn’t play a role in the outcome,” the Crystal Ball said.

The general election is Nov. 3.

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