Earlier this month, Republicans lost control of both houses of the Maine legislature, reversing their historic takeover just two years ago and isolating Gov. Paul LePage, a Tea Party-style conservative now mid-way through his first term.
In today's Maine Sunday Telegram, I've tried to determine how and why. Drawing on data on electoral geography, political spending, party strategy, candidate incumbency and candidate ideology (as determined by the LePage-ist Maine People Before Politics and the liberal Maine Peoples Alliance) -- and interviewing candidates, part strategists, and academics -- the piece concludes that the Democratic effort was regionally targeted and greatly helped by Gov. LePage's reputation in those areas and the willingness of donors to give lavishly to block his agenda.
Also with the article check out the map of the new Maine House of Representatives: a stark "red/blue" map showing the GOP to have become the party of the so-called "rim counties", the Democrats the party of southern, central, and coastal Maine as well as Bangor. (The senate map is similar.) Given the relative population of these areas, that's a worrying trend for Republicans and one that's likely to be on their minds as the 126th legislature gets to work.
I am an award-winning journalist and author of American Nations, American Character, Ocean's End, The Lobster Coast, and The Republic of Pirates. I'm a staffer at the Portland Press Herald, where I won a 2012 George Polk Award for my investigative reporting and was named a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist.