All right, it’s the moment in the election cycle where it’s time to start making predictions, so here goes: I won’t do it.

Instead, I’m going to lay out the best- and worst-case scenarios for both parties, both nationally and here in Maine, and say what I think is the likeliest outcome. At this early point, it’s like trying to make a weather forecast 30 days out, so I’m not going to make a solid prediction on any of these forecasts; instead, we’ll revisit after a hot, full summer of baseball, red snappers and beach days, and see what I think by then. By the end of August it should be more like doing a seven-day forecast, and at that point some real predictions might make sense. For now, I’ll just tell you where I’m leaning.

Nationally, the Republicans are going to win back the U.S. House of Representatives. That’s almost certain at this point, given the economic headwinds and Joe Biden’s approval ratings, barring some dramatic unforeseen event. The only real open question is the margin of victory, and whether certain individual candidates will be part of it – particularly Maine’s 2nd Congressional District candidate Bruce Poliquin (who should easily win his June primary). The answer is, it’s too soon to tell.

If the wave is huge, on the scale of 1994 or 2010, then Poliquin will almost certainly win; if it’s smaller, then incumbent U.S. Rep. Jared Golden might eke out a victory. Regardless of the national environment, the vote share is certain to be well under 60 percent – and probably under 55 percent. This will be a close race, and both campaigns need to be disciplined to pull it off. It’s entirely possible that they both will be, and it will simply come down to the overall mood of the country, but if it doesn’t, it’s probably because somebody, somewhere, screwed something up. Essentially, this race will likely be reflective of the nationwide trend, since both candidates are so well-known and well-established.

The gubernatorial race is in a similar position. It likely will be very close indeed, and in a good Republican year Paul LePage should be favored to return to the Blaine House. LePage always seems to get more disciplined during campaigns, and he runs a smart operation, so he definitely has a chance. Even if he somehow completely blows his campaign, he would probably still have a chance: He commands the loyalty of most Maine Republicans, and he has no trouble raising funds. As with Poliquin, if he simply avoids making mistakes and the national environment continues to favor the Republican Party, then he will probably be able to to win.

The wild card in those races, and in the contest for control of the State House, is the independent nature of Maine voters. Still, barring less-likely (if not impossible) scenarios, what’s probably going to happen?

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Well, if current trends continue and historical patterns prevail in an election that will be held six months from now, Republicans will be favored, at the state and federal level. What does that mean for Maine? Unfortunately, it’s far less obvious than one might assume. It would be easy to presume that, in another red wave, not only would LePage and Poliquin win, but Republicans also would recapture the overall majority in the Legislature.

That’s not a given, though: In 1994, Republicans managed to screw up a wave election and hand the Legislature to Democrats while Rick Bennett lost an open-seat congressional race in the 2nd District, the only Republican in America to do so that year. While this presents a challenge for campaigns, it makes our state one of the most interesting in the nation.

It’s certainly not inconceivable that Republicans sweep the board both nationally and do well in Maine, yet either Golden or Janet Mills – or both – end up winning anyway. Either of them could run brilliant campaigns, their opponents could mess things up, or they could just get lucky.

Politics has gotten more partisan since then, though, so what are the most likely best and worst cases for both parties? If it’s a good Republican year, Poliquin and LePage both win, taking other unexpected candidates with them, and Republicans retake both houses of the Legislature. For Democrats, their best-case scenario is that LePage and Poliquin lose and they keep at least one of the two chambers; right now, it’s hard to imagine them retaining both.

That, of course, could change in six days, never mind six months, so check back in.

Jim Fossel, a conservative activist from Gardiner, worked for Sen. Susan Collins. He can be contacted at:
[email protected]
Twitter: @jimfossel


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