50 States in 50 Days Election Preview: 23. Maine

In the 50 days leading up to the election on November 6th, I will be doing a profile of the 50 states and previewing what is on the ballot and how they are likely to vote. All of the posts so far can be found here

23. Maine

Capital: Augusta

Nickname: The Pine Tree State

Motto: Dirigo

(I Lead)

About the State

Prior to the arrival of settlers from Europe, Maine was inhabited by Native Americans including the Abenaki and Passamquoddy, who were part of the Algonquian speaking tribes.  Both the French and the English attempted to settle in the region, with the former including it in the area they called Acadia, which stretched up into where Quebec now stands.  The two European colonial powers had a series of battles for control over Maine, with the English eventually prevailing in Father Rale’s War in 1724.  During the Revolutionary War, the area was the site of naval conflicts, with merchant ships from Maine attacking British supply vessels to obtain their cargo.  The English had plans to start a new colony for loyalists called New Ireland around Penobscot Bay and, in 1779, they captured Castine and built a fort on the eastern side of the region.  The British held fast during a three-week siege but, in 1783 when peace was agreed, plans for New Ireland were abandoned and all of Maine remained in America.

The area was attacked once again during the War of 1812 and, because of its vulnerability to invasion, the push towards statehood for Maine gained momentum.  This happened as part of the Missouri Compromise, under which the Northern states accepted Missouri to join the Union as a slave state, as long as Maine were to be included as a free one and on 15th March 1820, it became the 23rd state in the USA.  Disputes continued over the border with, what was then, British North America – now Canada – and it came to a head with the Aroostook War in 1839, when Maine Governor John Fairfield sent troops from Bangor to deal with New Brunswick lumberjacks he claimed were cutting timber in American territory.  However, this conflict was bloodless and the argument was settled through diplomacy.  During the Civil War, Maine sent a higher number of troops per capita to fight for the Union that any other state.  It had been a supporter of the new Republican party from the outset and Abraham Lincoln chose a Senator from Maine, Hannibal Hamlin, as his running mate and first Vice-President.

Maine is the 39th biggest state in area, ranks 41st in population with just over 1.3 million residents, and is the only one of the fifty that borders just one other (New Hampshire).  Its economy is centred around tourism, with Acadia being the second most visited National Park in the USA;  fishing, Maine supplies 90% of the lobsters consumed in America; and agriculture, where it ranks number one in the production of blueberries.  No Presidents have been born in Maine, though the Bush family have a summer home in Kennebunkport, on the South coast.   Around the turn of the 21st century, during the long-running Civil war in Somalia, there was a large migration by Somalis and Bantus (an ethnic minority in the African country) to Maine, mostly around the town of Lewiston.

Presidential Race

Electoral College Votes: 4

2008 Result: Obama 57.6% Maine 40.5%

Latest Poll: Obama +16%

Since 1992, the Democratic Party candidate has won Maine in every Presidential election and that trend is highly likely to remain in November.

Also on the Ballot

Congress:  Senator Olympia Snowe (R) is not running for re-election and her seat is being contested by Republican, Charlie Summers, the Democrat, Cynthia Dill, as well as an Independent, Angus King, a former Governor of Maine.  King has a large lead in the poll and is expected to become the second Independent in the Senate (along with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont).

The state has two Representatives in the House, both of whom are with the Democratic Party and are expected to be re-elected this November.

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