Down to the wire

campaign workersThis is the best time to be a campaign worker, and this is the worst time to be a campaign worker.

It’s the final push, and fewer than 100 hours now remain before the last votes are cast when the polls close.

Most people want the commercials, the lawn signs, the mailers and the phone calls to end.

For a political junkie like me, however; Election Day is sort of like the World Series and the Superbowl combined. But even the most ardent political junkie finds themselves exhausted and ready for it to be all over at this point in the game.

We try to tell ourselves that life will go on, regardless of the results.

But still the pit in my stomach is consumed with anxiety and speculation.

I have been working on campaigns, professionally and as a volunteer, since 1984.

When it comes to my professional campaigns, I will either be 11-2 or 10-3 on Wednesday, Nov. 5.

My fellow campaign workers are no frantically, desperately in GOTV (Get-out-the vote) mode. Our families know that this weekend is a wash. We won’t sleep much, we won’t allow ourselves very much fun. 96 hours and counting. What did I miss? When is the other shoe going to drop?

We watch the weather forecasts, and we loathe the late letters to the editor. We lurk or ague on the #mepolitics feed on Twitter.

 

 
Visions of spreadsheets dance through our heads. What are the latest polls saying? That can’t be right.

I know what it feels like to win, and I know what it feels like to lose.

I ran a campaign that won with 83 percent of the vote. That felt good, but not nearly as good as winning another campaign with 24 votes.

I’ve lost campaigns, but none hurt as bad as a local referendum question in Old Orchard Beach that failed by fewer than 90 votes.

In all those cases, life went on and new battles loomed on the horizon.

Just like you, the campaign workers and the political junkies are ready for it to be over. They are more than ready to drink some Champagne or cry in their beers.

The unsung heroes

Campaign workers are among the unsung heroes of the political season.

The candidates or the issues get all the media attention, but they would be nowhere without the army of dedicated and exhausted volunteers and staffers who actually drive the campaigns. The paid staffers are generally more seasoned and experienced than the volunteers, but they generally work for peanuts. They are driven by passion and their ideals. They take it personally.

But there are many other unsung heroes in this process, most notably the city and town clerks who find themselves working overtime to keep up with the demands of the process: printing ballots, absentee voting and ensuring that the process remains fair and accessible to all voters.

And then there are the countless volunteers who give up an entire day to work at the polling places, helping voters get and cast their ballots. These people are generally rewarded with little more than complimentary donuts or pizzas.

So, when you go to vote, please make sure to say thank you to the wardens and clerks who keep the system running smoothly.

And finally, there are the candidates.

Regardless of your political leanings, we should all thank each of the candidates for sacrificing so much of their time and energy in order to serve in public office. Beyond the big-ticket races for governor, the U.S. Senate and U.S House of Representatives, hundreds of candidates are running for seats in the Maine Legislature. Many voters will also choose district attorneys, sheriffs, school board members, town councilors and other candidates seeking inglorious jobs such wastewater trustee.

So if you’re sick of the ads and the phone calls, take a deep breath and say thank you to all the people who are willing to work on your behalf; and then thank God that you are not working on a political campaign because this is the best time to be involved in the process and the worst time to be involved in the process.

 

 

My election predictions

With nine days remaining before the Nov. 4 midterms, I offer my predictions for several races here in Maine.

These are not necessarily the results I am hoping for, but they are the results I am betting on.

Common Cause CaseMaine’s Gubernatorial Race:

I am reluctantly calling it for Democrat Mike Michaud in a squeaker (41.6 percent); Republican Incumbent Paul LePage will garner 40 percent and Independent Eliot Cutler will round out the pack with 18.4 percent of the total votes cast for one of the three major candidates.

U.S. Senate Race

Incumbent Susan Collins will easily retain her seat with 61.3 percent of the vote over Democratic challenger Shenna Bellows (38.7 percent)

Maine CD 1

Incumbent Chellie Pingree (D) will breeze to victory with 68.4 percent of the vote in this three-way race. Independent Richard Murphy will pick up 19 percent; and Republican Issac Misiuk will get 12.6 percent.

Maine CD 2

In another three-way race, Democrat Emily Cain will pull out a razor-thin win, capturing 45.5 percent of the vote over Republican Bruce Poliquin (43 percent) and Independent Blaine Richardson (11 .5 percent).

Question 1 (Bear Referendum)

Once again, my prediction is that a referendum to change bear hunting practices by banning the use of bait, hounds and traps will fail just as it did in 2004.  YES (44 percent) and NO (56 percent)

In Biddeford

Here in my hometown of Biddeford, I believe Incumbent Democrat David Dutremble will hold onto his senate seat with 68 percent of the vote against Republican challenger James Booth (an Independent two years ago).

In the State House District 11 race, I also predict political newcomer Ryan Fecteau (D) will trounce his Republican opponent Debbie Davis in a landslide, 78 – 22.

In the State House District 10 race, Democrat Marty Grohman will easily win his first bid for office (58 percent) over perennial candidate Perry Aberle (R) (22 percent, and Independent Barbara Thompson (20 percent).

Being “rich” in Maine

Governor LePage: winner or loser in 2014?

Governor Paul LePage

Last night, during one of the debates, Governor Paul LePage said that people earning $100,000 per year “are not that rich.”

I have to agree with the governor, but I would have disagreed with him if he made that statement in 1998.

In 1998, I accepted a job as a reporter that paid $9 per hour or $18,720 per year before taxes.  A few weeks prior, I had paid $500 for a 1988 Subaru Loyale that featured duct tape and a leaking oil pan. I lived in a third-floor apartment above a Chinese restaurant.

Every piece of clothing I owned reeked of Moo Gai Pan.

I was 34 years old and earning roughly 60 percent less than I was just a few years earlier.

It’s a long story.

But back in 1998, I would have considered anyone earning $100k as wealthy. I wanted to earn $100k, but I thought it was impossible.

So, what happened?

Basically, I worked my ass off. My work became my life. Within a few months, I got a raise. I replaced the Subaru with a 1993 Ford Escort station wagon that desperately needed a new exhaust. I bought an air conditioner.

The future seemed bright.

A few months later, I was promoted and got another raise. I worked nights, weekends and holidays. I pretended that I owned that newspaper.

I got another raise, and then another, and then another.

Before I knew what was happening, I was getting married and buying a house. I bought a Jeep. Things were really looking up. I felt rich, but only for a little while.

I eventually left the newspaper and nearly doubled my salary. Suddenly it was so much easier to pay the bills. I thought I was rich, until it came time to pay my taxes.

At each point along this journey, my definition of “rich” constantly changed.

I won’t say how much I earn today, but I will say that I could not imagine my current salary back in 1998.

Sure, there were times when I struggled with a little bit of envy, but I also noticed that with each rung up the ladder, my definition of “rich” continually changed.

It’s easy to conduct class warfare and talk about the “rich” being out of touch, but considering the cost of living, the median cost of a home in Maine, the rising cost of heating oil and insurance premiums .  . . you get the idea, $100,000 per year isn’t such a big number. Yes, it’s much more than $18, 720/year, but it’s hardly “rich.”

Just for fun

camplogo3With just three weeks to go before the election, I thought it was time to revisit the social media pages of all three gubernatorial candidates to take a quick glance at some of their analytics.

There will be more scientific polls in the coming weeks, and this amateur survey is reserved for political junkies who may be interested in how the campaigns are using their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.

 

ON FACEBOOK

When it comes to Facebook, Republican Governor Paul LePage leads the pack in terms of “LIKES,” experiencing a 21 percent increase since our last survey on May 29, from 20,300 to 24,476.

Though Independent Eliot Cutler is in second place with overall number of Facebook fans( 21,961) , his campaign experienced only a 5 percent increase during the same time period.

Democrat Mike Michaud saw a 15 percent jump on Facebook during the same time period.

This week, Michaud’s best Facebook post occurred on Oct. 10, when his campaign shared a prediction from Scott Lehigh, a Boston Globe writer, stating that Michaud will be Maine’s next governor. That post was shared 376 times and Liked by 458 people

https://www.facebook.com/#!/MikeMichaudForGovernor/photos/a.381734511938358.1073741828.379485622163247/595138440597963/?type=1

By contrast, the best post this week for LePage got 268 shares; and Cutler’s best Facebook post got 203 shares.

ON TWITTER

Democrat Mike Michaud far outpaced his opponents in terms of new Twitter followers since our last tracking survey.

Michaud’s Twitter followers spiked 36 percent since May 29, from 1,755 to 2,380 followers.

Cutler saw the second largest increase (21 percent) but he still has fewer Twitter followers (1698) than Michaud or LePage.

LePage experienced a 16 percent increase during the same time period, from 1,768 to 2,054.

The governor’s best tweet this week (4RTs) was a call to boost employment in Maine

But Michaud beat him soundly (12 RTs)  with a tweet highlighting an endorsement for the Democratic hopeful from a Republican.

Eliot Cutler’s camp got 6 retweets for a tweet that showcases a graph, which demonstrates that Cutler can beat LePage in a head-to-head contest.

 

I doubt this information will have any impact on the Nov. 4 election, but I sincerely hope you have enjoyed this trivial pursuit. More graphics below

10-14-facebook fans10-14-twitter followers

 

 

Why I’m voting for Eliot Cutler

Eliot-Cutler-630x421I have many friends on both sides of the political aisle, and they undoubtedly will chastise me for supporting a gubernatorial candidate that is trailing in the polls.

But polls are just polls, and a growing number of my friends are growing disillusioned by the two political parties and their candidates.

It’s time for a change.

For more than 30 years, I have been an active voter. In 1982, I supported Republican Sherry Huber. Four years later, I did a bit of volunteer work for Bill Diamond’s campaign to capture the Democratic nomination.

In the years that followed, I never missed an election. But I did miss feeling the passion of voting for a candidate, not against a another candidate. I spent those roughly 30 years feeling rather uninspired, somewhat hollow.

True, I did not vote for Eliot Cutler in 2010. But I cannot, in good conscience, make that mistake again.

I have been on the fence for several weeks. I have met and spoken with all three candidates. They all have strengths and weaknesses, but only Eliot rises above the fray.

While Governor Paul Lepage and Congressman Mike Michaud continue sniping at each other, Cutler has focused on his vision for Maine: a vision that runs right down the middle, on a parallel course with common sense.

But what really sealed the deal for me was something that happened a couple of weeks ago at an energy forum in Portland.

You’ve probably read about what happened at the E2Tech forum in the newspaper, but as one of roughly 300 paying audience members it was one of the most awkward experiences I can recall.

LePage refused to sit at the same table with the other candidates. LePage, in fact, left the event and sulked in the parking lot.

Grown men acting like children and refusing to sit at a table together. That’s not leadership.

That’s boorish.

Michaud ran through a set of talking points; answered a few questions and then was off to do important things (the event was not designed nor intended to be a debate). Michaud supporters say he arrived at 8:30 because that’s when he was scheduled to speak. So the audience waited 30 minutes in silence, staring at an empty stage because LePage forfeited his 8 a.m. speaking time.

With somber dignity and clarity, Cutler began his remarks by apologizing to the audience. He later drew a round of laughter from the crowd when he said it’s simply not good enough to say that you are better than the other guy.

When asked a question about natural gas expansion by an environmental advocate, Eliot gave an answer that she did not like. In essence, he said that there are no perfect solutions; that Maine cannot afford simplistic thinking on energy issues or any other issue; that reality must drive how we lead.

I was impressed by his honesty, integrity and wisdom. He wasn’t willing to tell her what she wanted to hear (which would have been the popular path). Instead, he laid out a vision and a plan that acknowledges the very real challenges that so many Maine families are facing when it comes to heating their homes.

Eliot Cutler is a different kind of candidate. He has unmatched and proven experience in job creation, and he is the only candidate who continues to put forth detailed policies and plans to invest in infrastructure and education and to use tax dollars more efficiently.

He is the only candidate not beholden to political parties or special interests. He has not and will not accept money from PACs or special interests. Translation: you won’t see as many television commercials.

I believe Eliot is the right candidate to bring people together in search of common solutions.

For too long, political divisiveness in Augusta has overshadowed the real needs of real Maine families.

It’s time to end the boogeyman scare tactics of voting for so and so means so and so will win.

It’s time for vision. It’s time for integrity. It’s time for common sense.

It’s time for Eliot Cutler.

Learn More

 

Survey says . . .

Eliot Cutler

Eliot Cutler

Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler is in trouble.

At least according to the latest All Along the Watchtower survey (and every other poll conducted over the last few months)

Whatever star power the independent from Cape Elizabeth had during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign has all but vanished.

Of the three major candidates, Cutler was the only one to see his support fade (a 40 percent drop) between my two surveys conducted on March 14 and July 24 of this year

Meanwhile, incumbent Republican Paul LePage saw a 19 percent jump in support between the survey period, but Democrat Mike Michaud maintained strong and commanding leads in both surveys, handily winning each with 48 percent in March; and 49.5 percent in July.

As I said previously, this was NOT a scientific poll. It was not restricted to Maine voters, and there are no cross-tabs to analyze. An eight-year-old girl from Toronto could have voted in this survey, so no one should get too wound up about the results . . . except for Eliot Cutler.

Before I proceed, it should also be noted that my latest survey (launched on July 24) had far fewer participants than the earlier survey I conducted in March.

In my March 14 survey, there were 2,411 participants. By contrast, only 122 people participated in my latest survey.

I am not sure how to explain the dramatic drop in participation. It could be that we are in the middle of summer. It could be that people are growing weary of politics and are waiting until Labor Day to get fired up. It could be apathy. It could be a lot of things, but Cutler’s team could have shared this survey widely among their supporters. They could have easily had a small win. 75 votes for Cutler would have resulted in a blog post that “Cutler wins survey.”

gov chart1What would be the value of a minor league blog announcing a Cutler win?

Well, it would be something that Cutler could point to as semi-tangible evidence of his campaign’s viability. It would likely help him more than saying he was asked by the Democrats to be their party’s nominee.

Instead, the results here are just more bad news for a campaign that has yet to have a sun-shiney day during the 2014 cycle.

It’s also further evidence that the Democrats don’t need to worry too much about Cutler, and it’s a bit of bad news for the LePage team that desperately wants Cutler to cut into the Democratic base.

That eight-year-old girl from Toronto probably had no idea about how much power she and her friends could have wielded in the 2014 campaign for the Blaine House.

 

Maine’s next governor. Your choice?

camplogo3On Monday, we will hit the 100-day mark in the countdown to the November 4 election, when Maine voters will choose one of three candidates to be the state’s next governor.

So, for the next four days, I am asking you, your friends, neighbors and co-workers to participate in an online survey about who should be Maine’s next governor.

I will make every effort to limit voting, but I ask that you also exercise some honor. That said, I make no bones about the following: This is NOT a controlled, professional poll and the results should not be construed as such.

This is simply an online self-selected survey — yet another snapshot; a quick glimpse of the electorate’s mood on the eve of what promises to be a rigorous 100 days of fierce campaigning.

Thanks for participating!