This post first appeared in The Maine Wire
Congratulations conservatives, we’ve done it. If Maine is truly a bellwether state as it has long been described, 2016 (and the foreseeable future) looks promising for the Republican Party.
Though the adage of “as goes Maine, so goes the nation” is outdated and insignificant when considering some of our state’s more modern election results, it’s hard not to notice the larger political trend that Maine is currently playing part in.
For the first time in Gallup tracking, red states outnumber blue states in America, and according to the Analysis of Political Party Affiliation report released by the polling center last week, Maine is now considered a “competitive” state.
Gallup first began tracking state party affiliations in 2008. When that polling began, Democratic states outnumbered Republican states by an incredible margin of 35 to 5.
The report released last week, however, shows that conservatives now have the advantage with 20 Republican or Republican leaning states opposed to only 14 Democratic or Democratic leaning states, with 16 states determined as up for grabs.
From 2014 to 2015, 13 different states had their political classifications changed, with 11 of those states edging in the conservative direction. Additionally, Democrats lost three states over that span that are now considered competitive states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Maine. In total throughout the eight years of tracking data, Democrats have lost 18 solidly Democratic states and have a net change in advantage of minus-36.
The study determines competitive states as “those in which the parties are within 5 points of each other in party affiliation.” Maine earns that classification with a 3.7 percent advantage for Republicans. According to the report, Republicans in our state have both the advantage in party identification as well as self-identified ideology.
In party identification, 42.5 percent of Mainers identify or lean Republican, opposed to 38.8 percent who identify or lean Democrat. Among ideologies, conservatives have a significant advantage, with 35.4 percent identifying as conservative to just 24.2 percent identifying as liberal. These findings give Maine conservatives an 11.2 percent advantage as we near the next election cycle.
The gains conservatives have made since state-level political affiliation tracking began are truly remarkable. Since 2008, the beginning of President Obama’s first term, solid Democratic states have decreased from 29 to 11. The number of states trending left on the spectrum reached its highest mark in 2009, with 10 states leaning Democratic. That number diminished to just three by 2015. Now, Republicans outnumber Democrats with 12 solid red states and eight states that lean Republican.
Despite the atrocity that is the Electoral College, these statistics give us hope heading into November that conservatives can win enough states to combat the heavyweights of California and New York, which remain solid Democratic states. If states were to vote in alignment with the Gallup polling, even with a six state advantage, Republicans would still trail Democrats in Electoral College points 184-152. To dethrone the incumbent party, Republicans will likely need to win a healthy majority of the 16 remaining competitive states.
This is a tall order, but it’s truly no surprise that the country’s political affiliations have been trending in this direction since Obama’s inauguration, nor should be it a bombshell that this change is taking shape in Maine.
After several foreign policy failures, including the attack on the Benghazi consulate in 2012, Americans are in search of a Commander-In-Chief, which has been absent in our political arsenal for nearly eight years.
They feel betrayed by Obama after he failed to keep his promise, the one he made at least 36 times, that “if you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it.” Millions of Americans had their health insurance plans discontinued when Obamacare came into effect. Additionally, health insurance premiums have increased so significantly that many question what is exactly so affordable about the Affordable Care Act.
His divisive rhetoric has also created a climate of violence among minorities and our police forces, despite his vows to improve race relations in America. He’s also made clear how he intends to guide policy making, with his famous quip “I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone.”
And in Maine, our liberal politicians are as out of step as our president. They’ve spent countless hours in the midst of a drug crisis lobbying for Governor Paul LePage’s impeachment, despite the indisputable fact that Mark Eves was named the head of Good Will-Hinckley as a result of political patronage. And just last week, House Democrats suddenly walked out of negotiations on tax conformity. With the passing of each day, Maine Democrats find a new and unique way to shoot themselves in the foot for the upcoming election.
Mainers, as well as the American people, can only handle so many political blunders under one president and one form of ideology. The Gallup data shows that America as a whole is looking for a different kind of change than what was offered to them in 2008. Only a handful of months and a few fall days separate them from that achievement.
The Republican swing exemplified in the Gallup polling is refreshing to observe, and as conservatives, we deserve a hearty pat on the back for this accomplishment. Personally, I look forward to November. If Maine’s current political trends are any indication, that’s where the real congratulatory feeling awaits us.