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Analysis | Politics | State | Monday, June 7th, 2010, 5:45 pm

A few thoughts as we head into the Primaries

Updated with a few unsurprising, but nonetheless interesting, factoids.

It will be interesting to see the results of tomorrow’s primaries in Maine, as neither party seems to have a breakout candidate.

Susan Cover posted some interesting numbers in today’s Kennebec Journal.

As of June 1, independents made up the largest voting bloc among Maine registered voters, with 385,388. Democrats are next with 329,610. Republicans have 270,601 and Green Independents 34,398.

The deadline to switch parties has passed, and, according to the state, some voters took the opportunity to make a change at some point this year.

There are many categories, but four columns stand out:

  • 1,200 people went from unenrolled to Republican.
  • 658 people went from unenrolled to Democrat.
  • 956 people went from Democrat to Republican.
  • 346 people went from Republican to Democrat.

The number of people who switched parties may seem small, but the trends might be emblematic of a larger trend. Twice as many independents enrolled as Republicans than as Democrats, and nearly three times as many Democrats switched to the Republican Party than vice versa.

You can compare the party totals to June of 2008, which saw 299,796 Democrats, 253,217 Republicans and 333,303 independents (not Green Independents, mind you, that’d be a coup), and June of 2007, which saw 291,228 Democrats, 259,566 Republicans and 352,780 independents. (You can see breakdowns and more on the secretary of state’s website.)

Furthermore, the secretary of state’s office provided me with these numbers from the first five months of 2008:

  • 859 people went from unenrolled to Republican.
  • 6,560 people went from unenrolled to Democrat.
  • 259 people went from Democrat to Republican.
  • 1,153 people went from Republican to Democrat.

Obviously a huge reversal.

Here these numbers are in an easy-to-digest graph format:

You can see all the numbers in a spreadsheet here.

If the national trend is to buck candidates with experience (see Arlen Specter, Rand Paul), that is not the case in the Democratic Primary, it seems. A poll by Pan Atlantic SMS (which predicted November’s elections not-so-much, by the way) has Libby Mitchell, president of Maine Senate, and Steve Rowe, a former Maine attorney general and legislator, leading Rosa Scarcelli, who has no public office experience and has billed herself as an outsider, by a fairly healthy margin.

None of the Republicans have a breadth of experience. Waterville Mayor Paul LePage is one of the few candidates who isn’t running purely on a business-centric platform, but he is a distant second to Otten, according to that same Pan Atlantic poll. LePage also seems to be locked in a pretty tight embrace with the tea partiers, at least moreso than any other candidate. Peter Mills, whose political experience as a Maine state senator is second only in the GOP field to Steve Abbott, who served as chief of staff for Sen. Susan Collins, insists, with a self-commissioned poll in hand, that he’s on top, but in reality his chances look dubious. Abbott’s chances look even worse.

Justin Russell has an interesting analysis of each candidate’s community engagement via Twitter (hat tip to Pattie Barry for the link). Scarcelli seems to lead the pack both in total tweets and number of responses to followers.

William P. Davis is editor of MaineMedia and a founding editor of the Observer.

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