The Maine equation

Probably the most complicated election of any state on November 2nd will be one of the first to call a result (assuming no glitches or disruption). The State of Maine, along with Nebraska, does not have the "winner takes all" system used in the other states. Instead of this, Maine is divided into two electoral districts.

The fun part is interpreting the election law that is not entirely clear.

In 2000 it was easy enough: the Democrats won a majority of votes in each district so they won the 2 district electoral college votes and the 2 "at large" ones. But if each district is won by a different party, then the issue of the 2 "at large" electoral college members becomes less clear. Some commentators imply that the 2 at large electoral college seats are shared in the event that each party wins a district. Others claim that the aggregate winner of the two districts gets the two bonus seats. The latter would mean that the Republicans could win a seat, without winning in Maine overall.

This split between district and statewide electoral college seats explains the decision by the Republicans to campaign hard in Maine: although a four seat total may not seem like much in relation to Florida's 27, the district setup means that the Democrats have to defend in depth, across the whole state. As electoral guerilla tactics go, this one is a peach.

Personally, I doubt that the Republicans will actually make any gains in Maine. But they will tie down campaign efforts that could have been used in New Hampshire by their opponents. Worth a try.

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