Nobody put Maine’s two congressional seats on the table. Sure, every once in a while they would pop up at the bottom of someone’s list of 100+ seats in play, but no one was banking on these two. They don’t show up at all in Cook’s list of 103 potentially competitive Dem seats, and NRCC’s Young Guns program doesn’t even mention the Republican candidates as being On The Radar. And who’s to blame for that? Chellie Pingree won an open seat in the 1st District with 55% of the vote, and Mike Michaud won his seat with 67% in 2008. Both are Dem leaning in the Cook Partisan Index. They don’t look too competitive to me. But then along comes Public Policy Polling…
Pingree (D-inc) 47
Dean Scontras (R) 38
Michaud (D-inc) 45
Jason Levesque (R) 38
Now, there is one caveat to this poll, and that is that both polls are heavily skewed to a population 46 years and older. They’re also likely voter polls, and may very well be understating Dem turnout. But still, nobody had these races on their radars! Besides, they also looked at the gay marriage question (which was on the ballot in 2009), and their numbers match up perfectly with actual 2009 election results.
So right now, both of these seats are winnable. Delving deeper into the polls, it looks like the main problem each of the Republican candidates has is lack of name recognition. Obama is polling roughly even in terms approval in the first, but is 41-54 in the second district (and 53% oppose the health care plan here). In both cases, the incumbent representative’s polling is an anemic 40-40 approval/disapproval. Also, in both cases, the Republican challenger has over 2/3 providing no opinion in terms of favorability.
Based on these results, I think the 2nd district is the better pickup opportunity. Republicans are split 65-14 in favor of Levesque, with 21% undecided. Shore that up, pick off some more of the Republicans for Michaud, and pick up the undecided independents (23%), and he’ll win. In contrast, Scontras has already picked up his base (winning 78-9 among Republicans), and so would have a harder time getting to the 50% tally.
It’s doubtful that the NRCC will send any help their way, so who knows if they can close the gaps? Neither of them are doing that well in the cash department, so if you’ve got any spare change, send it their way. If we can pick off the Maine seats, or even just one of them, imagine how many other seats are in trouble?