Around New England

Maine’s Trump-Leaning Congressional District May Get A Little Less Conservative Because of Census Shift

August 14, 2021

Maine’s Trump-supporting Second Congressional District in the central and northern parts of the state may become marginally more Democratic next year, because of a shift in population that will require a redrawing of district lines.

About 23,000 people who currently live in what The Bangor Daily News calls the “reliably liberal” Maine First Congressional District will have to be moved into the more conservative Second district for the 2022 elections because of new U.S. Census data, the newspaper reports.

That may make re-election easier for U.S. Representative Jared Golden, a Democrat who squeaked into office in 2018 after losing a plurality of votes thanks to ranked-choice voting, which allowed him to pick up second-choice and third-choice selections from two lesser candidates because the plurality-vote-getting Republican didn’t win an outright majority in the first count.

That Republican, former congressman Bruce Poliquin, is among three GOP candidates in 2022 for what is now Golden’s seat.

New England currently has zero Republicans representing the six-state region’s 21 congressional districts. Maine U.S. Senator Susan Collins is the only Republican among the region’s 12 senators.

Republicans are looking to take over Congress in the elections next year, since both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate are closely split between the two major parties and since the party that doesn’t hold the White House usually makes significant gains during the mid-presidential-term elections.

Possible breakthroughs in New England include one of New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate seats, where incumbent Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, may encounter popular Republican governor Chris Sununu or possibly Scott Brown; and Maine’s Second district, which voted for Donald Trump for president in both 2016 and 2020, giving him a single electoral vote each time.

The state is one of two in the country that divvy up electoral votes by congressional district. (The other is Nebraska.)  Maine’s Second district provided Trump with his only electoral vote in New England each time.

Democrats in Maine legislature control redistricting. They hold a majority in each chamber. The governor, Janet Mills, is also a Democrat. (She faces a likely stiff challenge in 2022 from former governor Paul LePage, a Republican, who left office in 2018 because of term limits.)

Overall, the state’s population grew about 2.6 percent between 2010 and 2020. But while the richer southern portion of the state increase, people were more likely to leave the poorer central and northern portions of the state. The city of Bangor lost about 4 percent of its population, according to The Bangor Daily News. Some rural counties lost between 4 and 6 percent.

 

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