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Many people think of Maine as mostly homogenous in its politics, with just the blue dot of Portland, some sparsely-populated Republican rural areas, and most of the rest of the state being politically moderate. While it is easy to see how this idea originated, it belies the true diversity of Maine’s political geography. The whole state is hardly politically homogenous; in fact, few of the individual counties are politically homogenous. Knowing which areas of the state are more Democratic or Republican than average, and why, would give people a much better understanding of Maine as a whole. In this series, I will explain in detail the political geography of Maine, using the 16 counties and 35 State Senate districts as organization. I will also talk about how the State Senate districts changed in the recently-completed redistricting, and what effect this may have on the 2014 State Senate elections.

Finally, at the end of this series, I will present a hypothetical Democratic gerrymander of the Maine State Senate. I will explain how I used the 2012 election results to determine where the incumbents are strongest and weakest, and how I used that information to draw the districts to the Democrats’ advantage.

This will be presented as a series with seven parts:
1. SW Maine: York and Cumberland Counties
2. Mid-Coast Maine: Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox, and Waldo Counties
3. Central Maine: Androscoggin and Kennebec Counties
4. Down East: Hancock and Washington Counties
5. NW Maine: Oxford, Franklin, and Somerset Counties
6. North-central and Northern Maine: Piscataquis, Penobscot, and Aroostook Counties
7. Hypothetical Democratic Gerrymander of the Maine State Senate

Color code for the maps below (and for all other maps like this that I draw):

Darkest blue: 80%+ for Democrats
Dark blue: 70-79.99% for Democrats
Normal blue: 60-69.99% for Democrats
Lighter blue: 55-59.99% for Democrats
Lightest blue: 50-54.99% for Democrats
Yellow: No candidate received an absolute majority of votes
Pink: 50-54.99% for Republicans
Normal red: 55-59.99% for Republicans
Brown: 60-69.99% for Republicans
Dark red: 70-79.99% for Republicans
Darkest red: 80%+ for Republicans

Gray on the State Senate map represents towns won by independent candidates. White represents towns where no one voted.

Here is a map of Obama’s performance by town in 2012:

ME 2012 town map of results

Here is a map of Maine’s Question 1 (gay marriage) in 2012 (blue indicates yes, red indicates no):

ME 2012 gay marriage ques 1 town map

Here is a map of Maine’s State Senate results in 2012:

ME 2012 StSen results town map

Follow me over the fold to begin… with York County!

York County

York is Maine’s southernmost and second-most-populous county. Its major towns are Biddeford, Saco, Sanford, York, and Kennebunk. Overall, York is a solidly Democratic county, but there is a substantial divide between the more-liberal coastal towns (where most of the large towns are) and the moderate inland towns (most of which are quite small). The coastal towns all voted for Obama, and most by large margins. The coastal towns also all voted for Question 1 (gay marriage; yes = support) by large margins as well, providing all of York’s margin of victory for Question 1. The largest inland town is Sanford, which leans Democratic, while all the other inland towns are quite moderate. The inland towns were, overall, pretty evenly divided on Question 1.

York County forms the base of five State Senate districts. In the old redistricting map, these were districts 1-5, in the new map they are districts 31-35. All but one are held by Democrats. Luckily for Democrats, none of them contain only coastal towns; the four districts that touch the coast all go inland to take in less-Democratic areas inland. However, the four districts that touch the coast are all represented by people from coastal towns, and all five State Senators live in the largest town in their districts. The only district held by a Republican is the 34th/2nd, represented by Ronald Collins of Wells (one of the more moderate coastal towns). John Tuttle (D-Sanford) represents the only inland district, while the other three are coastal districts held by Democrats. In the 2013 redistricting, none of the districts changed dramatically, however Collins’ district got about 2 points more Democratic, mostly by losing some inland areas. The three other coastal districts are all safe for the Democrats, while the Sanford district is not quite so Democratic, however Tuttle had a dominating win in 2012 against an opponent who was also from Sanford, so he should be safe. Collins should be a top target of the Democrats in 2014, considering he only won 46% of the vote in a 3-way race in 2012.

Cumberland County

Cumberland is Maine’s most populous county by far, containing Portland and its suburbs, as well as Brunswick (home of Bowdoin College) and all the towns surrounding Sebago Lake, one of Maine’s largest lakes. It is the most Democratic county in Maine, with a strongly liberal base in Portland, and no heavily Republican areas anywhere (with one tiny exception that I will discuss soon). Some of Portland’s suburbs are strongly liberal (such as South Portland, Cape Elizabeth, and Westbrook) and others are more moderate (such as Scarborough, Gorham, Windham, and Falmouth). The towns that surround Sebago Lake are mostly similar in partisanship, and mostly voted 51-53% for Obama in 2012. The one Republican enclave here is Frye Island, an island in the middle of Sebago Lake that is Maine’s newest town. Frye Island’s tiny population consists almost entirely of affluent, seasonal residents who incorporated the town to avoid paying high property taxes. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Frye Island is strongly Republican; however it is so small that it has barely any impact on elections.

Cumberland is by and large a very socially liberal county, however, just as in York County, there is a substantial divide between the coastal and inland towns. Gay marriage (in 2012) outperformed Obama countywide and in most of the coastal towns, some (such as Scarborough, Falmouth, and Cumberland) by wide margins. However, Question 1 did worse inland, and Obama slightly outperformed Question 1 in most of the towns surrounding Sebago Lake. This coastal/inland divide is especially stark if seen on a town-by-town map.

Cumberland contains seven whole State Senate districts, and half of an eighth. Of these, four are safe-Democratic coastal districts (the old 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th), one is a lean-Democratic suburban district (the old 6th), one is a liberal-leaning coastal district (the old 11th), one is a moderate mix of Portland suburbs and Sebago shoreline (the old 12th), and the ‘half’ also contains some of southern Oxford County (where its incumbent lives). I’ll discuss this one when I get to Oxford County.

The 6th district is currently represented by James Boyle (D-Gorham). He won 55-45 in 2012, and he’ll need that strength, because his district got two points more Republican in redistricting; by removing Westbrook and adding Buxton. The 11th district, at first glance, would seem to be Democratic; it voted 55% for Obama in 2012 and got a point more Democratic in redistricting. However, it is represented by left-leaning independent Richard Woodbury of Yarmouth. Woodbury narrowly won re-election in 2012 facing only a Republican; he seems to be popular among Democrats. The 12th used to be a Democratic-held seat, however in 2012 our incumbent was termed out, and Democrats royally screwed up by not nominating a candidate, allowing Gary Plummer (R-Windham) to defeat an Independent with 61% of the vote. However, the district voted 52% for Obama in 2012, and only got 0.35% more Republican in redistricting, so this is definitely a winnable seat, the Democrats will just need a good candidate.

As for the safe Democratic seats, the 7th is based in South Portland and Cape Elizabeth. This was Cynthia Dill’s seat before she ran for the U.S. Senate in 2012 and got 13% of the vote. The current incumbent is Rebecca Millett (D-Cape Elizabeth). The 8th and 9th are the two Portland seats, and the Senator for the 8th district is Justin Alfond, who is the President of the Senate. Finally, the 10th district is the Brunswick seat (Brunswick is home to Bowdoin), and it is represented by Stanley Gerzofsky (D-Brunswick). Democrats won those districts all by wide margins.

This concludes Part 1 of my series. In the remainder of my series, I will talk more about the partisanship of individual towns, as all the other regions of Maine are much less populous than this one.

I hope you enjoyed reading, and I welcome any feedback or questions!

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

    by ProudNewEnglander on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 08:00:10 AM PDT

  •  Please explain the color code you're using (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ProudNewEnglander, mayim

    in the above maps.

    "Didn't anyone ever tell you? There's one thing you never put in a trap—if you're smart, if you value your continued existence, if you have any plans about seeing tomorrow—there's one thing you never—ever, put in a trap. …Me." -The Eleventh Doctor

    by KingofSpades on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:39:59 PM PDT

    •  Sorry that I didn't (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KingofSpades

      do that originally. I have added what each of the colors represents.

      (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

      by ProudNewEnglander on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 01:37:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  what's the green? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KingofSpades, wwmiv, mayim, aamail6

        ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

        by James Allen on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 01:49:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No one lives there! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          KingofSpades, James Allen

          Green townships are unincorporated and uninhabited. Maine actually has more uninhabited land than any state east of the Mississippi.

          (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

          by ProudNewEnglander on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 06:17:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wow (0+ / 0-)

            then why are some uninhabited parcels dark green and others light green?

            "Didn't anyone ever tell you? There's one thing you never put in a trap—if you're smart, if you value your continued existence, if you have any plans about seeing tomorrow—there's one thing you never—ever, put in a trap. …Me." -The Eleventh Doctor

            by KingofSpades on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 07:04:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The dark green is Baxter State Park nt (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              KingofSpades, ProudNewEnglander

              ME-01 (college) ID-01 (home) -9.85, -3.85

              by GoUBears on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 10:34:42 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  A park in the middle of uninhabited land (0+ / 0-)

                must be a virgin forest.  Hopefully not infested with the Wendigo, heh-heh.

                "Didn't anyone ever tell you? There's one thing you never put in a trap—if you're smart, if you value your continued existence, if you have any plans about seeing tomorrow—there's one thing you never—ever, put in a trap. …Me." -The Eleventh Doctor

                by KingofSpades on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 02:08:15 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Baxter State Park (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  KingofSpades

                  is the location of Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine. The park was donated to the people of Maine by Percival Baxter, a former governor of Maine. He decreed that the park shall remain "forever wild". This basically means that there are no businesses, electricity, paved roads, or many other modern conveniences in the park. Pets are not allowed. Also, visiting the park is strictly regulated to ensure that it is not overcrowded. Finally, the park is 18 uninhabited miles away from the nearest town, Millinocket. So essentially, it's a place for people who really want to get away from the modern world, and do some incredible hiking while they're at it.

                  (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

                  by ProudNewEnglander on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 06:03:18 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  While (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KingofSpades, ProudNewEnglander

    attending Bowdoin is amazing, the proximity to Portland is a double edged sword in that we can't do much outside of calls to influence inland or northern elections. That said, not being able to vote for Emily Cain next year is better than a truly GOP gerrymandered map (Some campus conservatives tried circulating a map that stretched the coast from Eliot to Bar Harbor, plus Sanford, Augusta, Lewiston-Auburn, Rumford, Farmington and Waterville. I shudder to think how hard it would be to hold the other district without Michaud.)

    Anyways, great job to start. A little more town-by-town would help my knowledge, but I know it can be fairly difficult to get a read on individual towns' political chemistry, especially since numbers aren't a tell-all in Maine.

    ME-01 (college) ID-01 (home) -9.85, -3.85

    by GoUBears on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 10:52:53 PM PDT

    •  I attempted to reconstruct that map for you (0+ / 0-)

      it would make ME-01 63% Obama-35.2% McCain and ME-02 52.1% Obama-45.9% McCain, and obviously within reach of Republicans.

      "Didn't anyone ever tell you? There's one thing you never put in a trap—if you're smart, if you value your continued existence, if you have any plans about seeing tomorrow—there's one thing you never—ever, put in a trap. …Me." -The Eleventh Doctor

      by KingofSpades on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 11:39:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You go to Bowdoin? (0+ / 0-)

      Hmmmm. Not sure what to say about that. (I go to another small liberal arts college in Maine). Also, there are conservatives at Bowdoin?!?!

      Yeah, in future diaries in this series I will talk about more towns individually. In general, my knowledge of Maine towns increases the closer the town is to a certain Maine town about 20 miles north of Augusta that begins with a W.

      (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

      by ProudNewEnglander on Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 05:53:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  While I would easily trade the ocean (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ProudNewEnglander, KingofSpades

        for your proximity to the "mountains" (coming from the heart of the Idaho Rockies), I love having amtrak.

        But ya, in spite of the NAS "report", there are conservatives at Bowdoin, though mostly either with an extreme libertarian bent, or kids of Greenich hedge fund managers that advocate exclusive panarchy, where the rich could feel comfortable that their tax dollars weren't going to support the poor. That said, they're still social liberals, and the latter ones are usually environmentalists and public works supporters (though discriminatory toll roads would be inevitable if they were the ones paying for the roads).

        ME-01 (college) ID-01 (home) -9.85, -3.85

        by GoUBears on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 05:13:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  By "the heart of the Idaho Rockies", (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          KingofSpades, GoUBears

          do you mean Blaine County? I guessed that since that's the only place in the Idaho Rockies that isn't extremely Republican.

          The conservatives at my college seem to be similar to those at your college. They are, in general, socially liberal and generally rich. One female conservative actually complained that other (liberal) students told her that she was voting against her own interests. She claimed that these other students didn't see the real Republican Party. I didn't bother explaining to her that in reality, it was she who didn't see (or willfully ignored) the real Republican Party.

          Oh, and have you climbed Katahdin? Because I have, and believe me, it is still a mountain even though it's only half the elevation of the Idaho mountains.

          (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

          by ProudNewEnglander on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 06:19:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I wonder what her thoughts on LePage are? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GoUBears

            Is he a representative of the Republican party or does her cognitive dissonance spread further?

            "Didn't anyone ever tell you? There's one thing you never put in a trap—if you're smart, if you value your continued existence, if you have any plans about seeing tomorrow—there's one thing you never—ever, put in a trap. …Me." -The Eleventh Doctor

            by KingofSpades on Sat Jun 22, 2013 at 07:22:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Well, no (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            KingofSpades, ProudNewEnglander

            I'm from the mining/ski country in the Panhandle. Nearest cities anybody's heard of are Coeur d'Alene and Spokane. We have much more in common with the classic idea most people have of the Colorado or Canadian Rockies than the Sawtooths of Sun Valley (Blaine Co.), even though they have much taller mountains (relative to sea level; compared to base level, they're about the same).

            I made it to the base of Katahdin back in October, but when I arrived, it started pea sized hailing, which devolved into a pouring rain about an hour later, so I decided to start the long haul back to campus early (it must be nice shaving almost an hour off of trips to Saddleback, Sugarloaf, Katahdin, Acadia, Moosehead, etc). And since you're from CT (NE of Hartford, judging by your recent diary), the typo of Greenwich was a weird auto-correct, though I don't know of anywhere or anything actually spelled "Greenich".

            ME-01 (college) ID-01 (home) -9.85, -3.85

            by GoUBears on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 03:04:27 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ah, the panhandle (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              KingofSpades

              Didn't the Idaho panhandle used to be Democratic? I think I read that somewhere. Do you know why it's now (except for Moscow) solidly Republican?

              I hiked Katahdin last September. The morning was a little wet, but by midday the weather was perfect. When you go back, I recommend hiking the Knife Edge if you're up for it. It's without a doubt one of the most amazing hikes in the Northeast.

              It is nice being a little closer to Katahdin, Sugarloaf, Acadia, etc. The only thing I am further away from is home (the drive is 4 hours and 15 minutes).

              (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

              by ProudNewEnglander on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 08:04:22 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It turned conservative (0+ / 0-)

                Where I'm at due to de-unionization (when union bosses used intumidation techniques, their candidates could get over 98% of the vote. Needless to say, they were the law) and Silver Thursday, and elsewhere because Californian conservatives can sell a Podunk house in LA, then buy a mansion here for the same price. And they get a huge upgrade on the surrounding environment, unless they had good oceanfront. It's kinda like inland Maine on steroids.

                One of my roommates hiked Knife Edge in the middle of February, which I really hadn't dreamt of.

                ME-01 (college) ID-01 (home) -9.85, -3.85

                by GoUBears on Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 09:40:09 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

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