Politics & Other Mistakes: An inconsistent state of mind

Daily Bulldog

In Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, it appears a lot of people cast ballots for both Republican Donald Trump for president – and Democrat Jared Golden for Congress.

In the state’s 1st District, plenty of voters seem to have backed Democrat Joe Biden for prez – and also the GOP’s Susan Collins for U.S. Senate.

Apparently, these folks didn’t get the memo that said Americans are so polarized this year that they can’t tolerate anybody who holds even slightly different political views. Contrary to what the experts told us, Mainers continued their hallowed tradition of randomly splitting their tickets for no apparent reason.

It would be easy to conclude that Golden benefited from support from those in the opposing party because he’s a centrist. But the evidence for that theory is weak. Trump is hardly a middle-of-the-roader. He’s an off-the-tracker. The flake-job president and the super-cautious freshman congressman have almost nothing in common ideologically, intellectually or morally.

It’s easier to see how somebody could support both Collins and Biden, because they’re both vanilla choices. But Collins will almost certainly be a key vote as the Republican-controlled Senate blocks Biden’s agenda. These voters seemed to be saying they want a government that’s less erratic, more focused – and still manages to get nothing done.

I suppose someone could commission a poll to try to determine what the electorate had going through its battered brain that caused it to make these oddball selections. But if there’s one lesson we can take from the 2020 vote, it’s not to trust polls. Collins didn’t lead in a single independent survey all year. Yet, she defeated Democrat Sara Gideon by a solid margin. Trump lost some ground in the 2nd District, but still finished ahead of all projections. At the same time, an Associated Press poll claimed the pandemic was the top issue for Maine voters, but only 39 percent of them approved of how the Deranger-in-Chief was handling the crisis.

Either the voters are crazy or the pollsters are incompetent. There’s no reason both those things can’t be true.

The results of voting for the Maine Legislature only added to the confusion. Democrats picked up seats in the state Senate (electing a candidate with the appropriately conflicted name of Maxmin), even though they were expected to lose ground. And Republicans cut into the Dem majority in the state House, an outcome nobody predicted.

The message from the masses seemed to be: We don’t know what we want, but we want it now. Or maybe later. We’ll let you know. Or perhaps not.

The one bit of clarity this election produced was on an issue that wasn’t even on the ballot. A referendum on Central Maine Power’s plan to tear up the forests of western Maine to build a power line from Quebec to Massachusetts was shot down when the state supreme court declared it unconstitutional. But anti-CMP legislative candidates from both parties won a bunch of races. It’s likely opponents of the project will have large majorities in the new Legislature. Gov. Janet Mills still supports ripping up the woods to provide juice to Massholes, but the chances of overriding her veto of a bill to halt construction now appear to be a bit better.

Disclaimer: The preceding prediction should be regarded with the same level of skepticism as an invitation to attend Sara Gideon’s U.S. Senate swearing-in ceremony.

This election proved little, except that most of Maine remains as unpredictable as the loon at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The exception to all that uncertainty is Portland, where liberalism continues to reign supreme. Green New Deal. Higher minimum wage. Rent control. Progressives rule -- unless you want to screw around with a citizen’s inalienable right to rent rooms using Airbnb. You can take away their guns – hell, Portlanders will voluntarily give them up – but you’ll have to pry their short-term leases out of their cold, dead hands.

That makes sense, just like voting for both Trump and Golden. There’s probably something weird in this state’s water. You shouldn’t expect rational behavior.

- Al Diamon

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  • Sandi Howard
    published this page in News 2020-11-09 09:26:00 -0500