Federal Elections Commission (FEC) records show a tight financial contest between incumbent U.S. Representative Jared Golden (D-ME-02) and the nearest Republican challenger, former U.S. Representative Bruce Poliquin, in the race for Maine’s Second Congressional District.
As of the December 31, 2021 filing deadline, Golden raised $2,136,842.68 for the 2022 election cycle and has $1,426,268.38 on hand. Republican challenger Poliquin took in $1,482,065.91 and has $1,397,129.24 cash on hand in the bank. That’s a cash-on-hand edge for Golden of less than $30,000.
While other candidates have filed FEC paperwork in either the Democrat or Republican primaries, no other candidate has raised any significant amount of funds as of the December 31, 2021 deadline.
This race appears to be shaping up as a rematch of the 2018 election, where Golden defeated then-incumbent Poliquin by just over 3,500 votes or 1.24 percentage points in the last round of Maine’s ranked-choice voting system. The result was controversial because Poliquin led Golden in the first round by slightly over 2,000 votes.
Under Maine’s Ranked Choice Voting program, voters rank their candidate choices on the ballot numerically. If a candidate fails to achieve a majority of the vote, plurality being insufficient, the votes are recalculated based on the voters ranking preference in the subsequent round. The candidate receiving the lowest amount of votes is dropped and their voters’ ranked-choice is redistributed to the candidate they marked next in their rankings. More than one candidate can also be eliminated in a single round if it is statistically impossible for them to move into second place.
This process will continue until a 50% plus one majority is achieved by one candidate. If a voter elects to only vote for one candidate, in subsequent rounds their vote is considered exhausted. In this case, the ranked-choice voting system benefitted Golden, because of the two independent candidates who received votes on the first ballot preference that were dropped, he received 44.5% of their remaining votes. 20.3% went to Poliquin and 35.2% were considered exhausted votes.
Then-Governor Paul LePage showed his displeasure with the ranked-choice system when he signed the certification papers for the election, tweeting:
I’ve signed off on the CD2 election result as it’s no longer in federal court. Ranked Choice Voting didn’t result in a true majority as promised-simply a plurality measured differently. It didn’t keep big money out of politics & didn’t result in a more civil election #mepolitics
LePage wrote the phrase “stolen election” next to his signature.
Ranked-choice did not factor into the 2020 elections, as Golden achieved 53% of the vote. It is unclear if it will play a factor in the 2022 election.
Redistricting did little to change the partisan makeup of ME-2. Prior to redistricting, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight gave the district a R+11 rating. They give it a R+10 rating now. The Cook Political Report currently gives the race a Tossup rating.
The primaries will be held on June 14. The filing deadline for candidates is March 15.
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Aaron Gulbransen is a reporter at The Connecticut Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected] Follow Aaron on GETTR.
Photo “Bruce Poliquin” by Bruce Poliquin and photo “Jared Golden” by Jared Golden.