Tonight’s Democratic and Republican gubernatorial primaries in Maine are about as wide open as these kinds of elections get. Here’s what I reported yesterday on Maine’s comically diffuse primaries:
On the blue side, the frontrunner by the slimmest of margins is state Sen. Libby Mitchell with 13 percentage points, followed by former state attorney general Steve Rowe (12 points), businesswoman Rosa Scarcelli (7 points), and Maine conservation department commissioner Patrick McGowan (6 points).
In the Republican primary, the field is even more fragmented. Businessman (and former Boston Red Sox vice president) Les Otten leads the way with 17 points—a 7-point gap over his nearest competitor, Paul LePage, mayor of Waterville. Rounding out the rest of the Republican slate, all with single-digit support, are state Sen. Peter Mills, education executive Bill Beardsley, businessman Bruce Poliquin, and Matt Jacobson, who heads a Maine job creation organization. Whew.
Perhaps the most telling statistic is this: The undecided comprise 62 percent of Democratic primary voters and 47 percent of GOPers. When Maine voters show up tomorrow, there’s no telling who’ll take the nominations.
Now, with the polls closed, the latest news in Maine’s primaries is that voter turnout is expected to—not surprisingly—be quite low. Maine’s secretary of state told the Associated Press he’s expecting a turnout of just 20 percent. That throws the results of today’s Maine primaries further into flux, with so few votes spread across an array of challengers, each separated by a few percentage points in the polls. When the votes are all counted later tonight, whoever does come out on top will likely do so by squeaking out the narrowest of victories.