President Obama enjoys massive leads in Maine, according to a new survey from Public Policy Polling (D).
The numbers come as both political parties eyed the newly opened US Senate seat following Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) announced retirement, and reaffirms a strong principle in Maine and other New England states — ticket splitting is no problem for many voters in the region.
Obama leads both former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum by the same margin in the Pine Tree State, 58 - 35. Maine has voted for a Democrat for president in the last five elections, but that doesn’t mean Dems dominate the state — Republicans currently hold the governorship, both houses of the state legislature and the two US Senate seats (Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)).
The predilections of Maine voters became a major part of the political calculus of the major party candidates that eyed the Maine Senate seat — on Wednesday US Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) decided against a run because of the entrance of former Gov. Angus King (I), who enjoys wide popularity in the state. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) also passed on the challenge, as did consensus choice for the best Republican candidate, Maine Senate President Kevin Raye, essentially clearing a path for King to run against only nominal opposition.
So while Obama looks to walk in the state, there was certainly no guarantee that even a strong Democratic candidate like Pingree, who already represents half the state as the congresswoman from the first district, would take the seat on Obama’s coattails. And that’s why King’s candidacy fundamentally changed the race for the Maine Senate seat when he got in.
Kyle is the Editor of TPM Media’s PollTracker. He graduated from Beloit College (WI) and began working in politics before getting an M.A. in magazine journalism from New York University, where he interned at TPM and the website of The New Yorker.