There’s one aspect of this year’s Maine gubernatorial race that has received little attention: where will dispassionate Republicans land on Election Day?
Four years ago, in what was largely a three-way race, Republican Paul LePage became Maine’s governor by securing approximately 38 percent of the vote.
Since then, much has been said about plurality, the merits of run-off elections and the so-called Cutler effect.
But little has changed in how Maine will choose its next governor, and today LePage is again on the ballot with two opponents.
More importantly, we don’t have Independent Shawn Moody (9 percent) to kick around this time.
Moody was always a long-shot, a late entrant, dark-horse candidate with broad appeal. At least a third of his support likely came from Republicans who were less than impressed with LePage’s style and tone.
From my perch, it’s hard to see how LePage has done anything to build his base, to draw in moderates; and I wonder where will those folks go. Will they hold their noses and vote for LePage? Will they hold their noses and vote for Cutler? Will they clamp down on their noses and vote for Democrat Mike Michaud; or will they leave their noses alone and just stay home on Election Day?
Many Democrats blame Cutler for LePage’s election in 2010. They say he split their party’s voting block and could do it again this time.
So far, Cutler is only a shadow of the threat he was in 2010; but even then his support came late in the game. Say what you will, but Cutler’s numbers will likely rise over the next few weeks as LePage and Michaud busy themselves with tearing each other down.
Recent polls have shown LePage and Michaud in a very tight race. So, I want to know where the Moody voters from 2010 will go; all nine percent of them.
Nine percent may not seem like a big number, but LePage simply cannot rest on his base of 35 percent. This time, the Democrats are working harder and smarter than they did in 2010. They are more unified and reaching for the middle.
LePage has an opportunity to draw in some of those moderate voters in the middle, but so far there’s been no evidence that he’s willing to court their vote.
So far, Eliot Cutler is the only candidate working really hard for the middle, the place where a growing number of voters call home. I doubt it will be enough for him to win, but I am positive that it would be enough for LePage to lose.