Tag Archives: Bruce Poliquin

Maine’s Ranked Choice Primary

By Jim Ellis

Maine Congressional Districts

July 9, 2020 — It is likely we are going to soon see another Maine congressional race decided through the controversial Ranked Choice Voting system. A new Fair Vote commissioned Survey USA poll, from this group that supports Ranked Choice Voting, finds the three 2nd District Republican congressional candidates in a relatively close battle, but with no one realistically nearing the majority support necessary to win the party nomination.

According to the S-USA poll (June 30-July 6; 604 likely ME-2 Republican primary voters), former state representative Dale Crafts would lead ex-gubernatorial aide and former journalist Adrienne Bennett and ex-state senator and 2018 Republican US Senate nominee Eric Brakey, 37-25-19 percent. While Crafts seems to have a comfortable lead even though the three are bunched relatively close together, the fact that no one is likely to reach the 50 percent threshold means that some voters’ alternative choices would next be counted.

The Ranked Choice Voting system was adopted by the Maine electorate in 2016 and first used two years later. Though former US representative Bruce Poliquin (R) had enough votes to place first in the 2018 race, which would have normally awarded him the election, he lost in the Ranked Choice rounds. Poliquin attempted to overturn the system in a federal court challenge but failed to advance it beyond the district level.

The RCV, or “instant runoff,” system, is designed to produce a majority winner after multiple rounds of voting. Maine is the only state that employs the concept. Other domains, mainly in the South, who want party nominees to win a primary with over 50 percent support, hold a secondary election on a future day. In the RCV system, the initial primary and runoffs are conducted on the same ballot.

In the 2nd District Republican primary this coming Tuesday, since there are only three candidates, voters will mark their ballots from 1 to 3, thus clarifying their preferences beyond the individual they initially choose from the field. After the first round of voting, the last-place candidate is eliminated, and election officials then comb through all of the cast ballots to find those where the last place candidate was the first choice. These ballots are then added back into the pool with their second choice added to the aggregate vote. If no candidate receives a majority after the second round, a third begins sans the new last place candidate if there are more than two contenders remaining.

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Inconsistent Turnout/Voting Patterns

As more and more election data makes its way into the public domain, the less sense some key voting patterns seem to be making.

Last week we reported on the turnout patterns for all 50 states and made the observation that voter participation dropped in 35 states when comparing the 2014 mid-term election to the 2010 mid-term. At the time, 2010 was considered to have yielded a low voter model, even in a mid-term election context.

The main conclusion being drawn from the aggregate data is that we may be returning to a similar electoral pattern that we saw in the pre-Reagan era, where Republicans did well in low turnout elections and Democrats excelled when voter participation was higher. This pattern has clearly taken hold since 2006. But, we find more to the 2014 turnout model when looking beyond a cursory overview.

Senate

As we know, the Senate races dominated the political landscape in this past election and saw Republicans gain nine seats to create a new 54R-46D majority (counting the two Independents who caucus with the Democrats). One would figure that, when overlaying the aforementioned observation, the GOP victories came because turnout dropped lower than even four years ago. In fact, the exact opposite is true.
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Rounding Up the Outstanding Races

With states allowing a greater volume of absentee balloting, elections take much longer to call. Several remain in abeyance, waiting either for final votes to arrive or an arbitrary date for which to begin counting. Many of these races are in California, where hundreds of thousands of mail ballots remain uncounted.

Senate

In the Senate, aside from the Louisiana run-off now scheduled for Dec. 6, Alaska and Virginia are not yet officially called but the outcome in both cases is clear.

In the Last Frontier, it’s just a matter of time before GOP nominee Dan Sullivan is declared the winner. Waiting to count the votes from the state’s vast outlying areas, incumbent Sen. Mark Begich (D) would have to attract almost two-thirds of the remaining ballots. With a Sullivan lead over 8,000 votes, Begich trailing for the last few weeks in polling, and the very real Republican wave that we witnessed last night, it is a sure bet that we can add this incumbent to the list of defeated Democratic senators.
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House Takes Shape

Several polls were released yesterday that bring some clarity to key races, most of which are considered sleepers or opportunity races for one side or the other.

Republicans talk about their chances to convert the western district of Maine (ME-2), the open seat vacated by Rep. Mike Michaud’s (D) run for governor. Democrats believe they have found a strong candidate to challenge Rep. Steve King (R) in Iowa, and the open NJ-3 seat is also high on the Democrats’ opportunity list.

The polling data seems to favor the incumbents’ party in each of these instances, however.

ME-2

A new Pan Atlantic SMS poll (Sept. 23-29; 200 likely ME-2 voters) gives Democratic state Sen. Emily Cain a 36-33 percent lead over former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin (R). Subtracting leaners, Cain’s lead falls to 31-29 percent. Independent Blaine Richardson tallies six percent.

The poll is part of a statewide survey of 400 Maine voters, so the 2nd District questions are asked of a polling segment. With a low sample size and a long interview period, the error factor is quite high, therefore, all we can legitimately deduce from the data is that the race is very close.
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Sleepers, or Bad Polling?

In our ongoing search to find intriguing campaigns below the political radar, we see two congressional races gaining more credibility. Though specific polling data now shows upset possibilities for a Maine Republican and an Iowa Democrat, just how reliable are the results?

IA-4

Iraq War veteran Jim Mowrer (D) has captured some previous national attention with his prodigious fundraising in his battle with six-term western Iowa Rep. Steve King (R). Now well on his way to raising $2 million for his challenge campaign against King, a new poll gives Mowrer confirmation that he is positioning himself in upset territory.

DFM Research, a Minneapolis Democratic polling firm, conducted a 4th District survey for the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Union (Sept. 20-23; 450 IA-4 residents) largely for purposes of questioning people about transportation issues, specifically surrounding rail. The congressional and US Senate questions were of secondary importance. Because of that, the data contains some glaring political weaknesses.

The DFM conclusion suggests that Rep. King has only a 46-43 percent advantage over Mowrer. But keep in mind that the sampling universe was not even screened for registered voters, let alone those most likely Continue reading >