U.S. Rep. Jared Golden’s op-ed predicting Donald Trump’s victory and declaring, “I’m OK with that,” stunned political observers in Maine and nationwide.

But political scientists said Wednesday that Golden’s provocative op-ed in the Bangor Daily News on Tuesday is also another attempt by the Democrat to connect with Republican voters in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District as he seeks reelection in November.

While President Biden, a Democrat, defeated his Republican predecessor in Maine in 2020, 53% to 44%, Trump won in Golden’s more conservative 2nd District, 52% to 45%, four years ago. Because Maine awards two of its four electoral votes by congressional district, Biden captured three electoral votes, two for winning statewide and one for his win in the 1st District, and Trump came away with one.

With Trump and Biden again at the top of the ballot in November, it’s clear Golden needs support from some Trump voters to hold his seat.

Pressure is mounting on Biden to drop out of the race after a poor debate performance last week when the president struggled at times to speak coherently. That performance has accelerated doubts that Biden, 81, would be capable of carrying out the duties of the presidency for another four years.

In his opinion essay, Golden, a moderate Democrat, said, “while I don’t plan to vote for him, Donald Trump is going to win. And I’m OK with that.”


Through a spokesperson, Golden declined an interview request from the Press Herald on Wednesday.

Brian Duff, associate professor of political science at the University of New England, said the op-ed signals that Golden wants Biden to drop out, even though Golden did not explicitly call for Biden to leave the presidential race.

“It’s another Democrat calling for Biden to drop out,” Duff said. “He never says the words, but that’s the message.”

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, is so far the only Democratic member of Congress to call for Biden to drop out, but some Democratic operatives have spoken anonymously to the national media suggesting Biden should end his campaign.

“I have to think that Golden believes that if Biden were to bow out, the Democrats would swap in a stronger candidate,” Duff said. And, that candidate, whether Vice President Kamala Harris or someone else, would almost certainly be a more moderate Democrat and not from the liberal wing of the party, which would help during the general election, Duff said.

Golden faces what is expected to be a tough race this fall against Republican nominee state Rep. Austin Theriault of Fort Kent. The contest is drawing national attention as one of a handful of close races that could influence the battle for control of Congress.


Theriault blasted Golden for the op-ed, calling the incumbent a phony. “Does he support Joe Biden for President or not? Does Golden believe Biden is mentally competent or not?” Theriault said in a written statement Tuesday.

As calls for Biden to drop out continue, the White House has remained defiant, proclaiming that Biden will stay in the race. The New York Times reported Wednesday that Biden admitted to an ally that he was considering leaving the race if he felt like he couldn’t defeat Trump. But Biden’s campaign declared the story false and he vowed to stay in the race.

Duff said Golden knows that many of the voters in the 2nd District either voted for Trump in 2020 or are sympathetic toward the former president, so “he’s definitely going to be soft on Trump.”

Ronald Schmidt, political science professor at the University of Southern Maine, said that Golden’s op-ed serves as an “amplification of his campaign style,” which is to project a calm strength amid panicking Democrats.

“While Democrats are freaking out, he’s saying, ‘I’m just representing my constituents. I’m just doing my job. I’ll fix that pothole on the street.’ That generally works well in Maine,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said while Golden’s argument that another Trump term would not be disastrous for the country may be “uninspiring” to Democratic voters, Democrats who live in the 2nd District will still see Golden as superior to a conservative Republican.


“If you’re a Democrat in the second district, you know you’re not going to end up with a progressive Democrat anyway,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said he doesn’t agree that Golden is rooting for Biden to drop out. If Biden does end his campaign, it might be neutral for Golden’s reelection chances or potentially damaging if there’s a chaotic process to determine who would be the Democratic nominee, he said. While Harris is considered the frontrunner, other Democrats have been named as potential successors, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“If the Democratic Party breaks into open warfare against itself, I don’t think that’s going to be a help to any Democrats up and down the ticket,” Schmidt said.

As Democrats across the nation mull what to do regarding Biden – and watch polling closely – at least one other Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives is also predicting a Trump victory if Biden stays in the race.

“The truth, I think, is that Biden is going to lose to Trump,” Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, a Washington Democrat, told an ABC-affiliated television station, according to the Associated Press. “I know that’s difficult, but I think the damage has been done by that debate.”

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