Candidates at all levels of government often make the same speech: their election is the most important ever. It’s a type of incentive-driven hyperbole – candidates don’t win a lot of volunteers or campaign donors by arguing that their election stakes are low.
However, here in New England there is a contest for the US House that some experts believe is the most competitive in the United States. This statement may be a superlative, but it is not a hyperbole.
The region’s northernmost House district, Maine’s 2nd, has been of interest to political observers for some time. As demographics and politics have changed, the district is now Republican in leanings. Donald Trump has won the district twice. Maine’s 2nd Congressional District is also the last place a Republican won a House seat in all of New England, in 2016.
The incumbent is now Democrat Jared Golden, an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, and a former Susan Collins staff member and state lawmaker. On paper, the 39-year second term is the country’s most vulnerable member of Congress. Indeed, current estimates from the Cook Political Report indicate that Golden’s seat is the only one of the 435 seats currently in the House. listed as a tossup. Likewise, Inside Elections analysts also assess the race for a tossup.
The reasons are pretty obvious. Trump won the district by more than seven points. No other Democrat represents a district that has opted for Trump with such a margin. Plus, 2022 is a midterm election, which historically punishes the party that controls the White House – in this case a Democrat like Golden. Third, unlike 2020, Republicans have a well-known and well-funded candidate. It would be Bruce Poliquin, who held the seat for two terms before Golden beat him in the 2018 Democratic wave.
It was such a close contest that it was decided by a choice vote, a fact that led Poliquin to challenge the election in court.
For the fundraising period that ended in September, Poliquin raised $ 883,000, a sign of national interest in this race. This was more than the $ 576,000 in gold collected in the same months. That said, this was Poliquin’s first quarter of fundraising where there is plenty of fruit on hand, compared to Golden, which has been fundraising for a year.
Because of this, Golden’s campaign has about $ 400,000 more in the bank than Poliquin.
While these circumstances seem to suggest Golden is a dud, there are reasons analysts consider the run to be still a tossup. Golden, after all, won the district in 2020 by six points despite Trump and Republican Senator Susan Collins winning the same district by solid amounts.
Additionally, with the redistribution that was just completed, Maine’s new 2nd Congressional District has become a bit more democratic, with the inclusion of Augusta on a map that includes all points north of the capital city of Maine. ‘State, some points to the west and parts of Downeast Maine. Under the new map, Trump would only have won the district by six points, instead of over seven.
Finally, Golden can credibly make the point that he was a thorn in the side of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He never voted for her to be president and he is part of a group of moderates who withheld votes to pass important bills for Pelosi and President Joe Biden, namely a reconciliation bill. massive. It is also known that he never endorsed the Democratic candidate against Collins in one of the Senate’s top contests last year.
Republicans only need five seats to regain a majority in the United States House. They can get those seats simply by redistribution, allowing Republican states to win House seats that Democratic states have lost.
It is therefore difficult to identify this particular seat as the one that will decide on its own control of the House. At the same time, if there ever was a place in the country where this declaration could be made, it is here.