Voices & Choices

Analysis: Huge percentage of Dems ranked Mills or Cote in Maine governor's race

Analysis: Huge percentage of Dems ranked Mills or Cote in Maine governor's race

In a new examination of Maine’s first ranked choice voting election, the Bangor Daily News takes a deeper dive using results released last week by the secretary of state. The newspaper also conducted an exit poll with voters in eight cities. The positive impact of RCV became immediately apparent.

For the governor’s race, the Republicans nominated businessman Shawn Moody in the first round with nearly 57 percent of votes. Consequently, the full round-by-round RCV tabulation was unnecessary.

However, on the Democratic side, Attorney General Janet Moody needed four rounds of counting before she captured a majority of votes and the nomination. Like the paper did for its exit polling simulation a couple of weeks ago, the story includes interactive graphics that tell the round-by-round story of the race.

The Daily News found both Mills and her runner-up Adam Cote to be good RCV candidates, with almost all voters ranking at least one of them by the end of the tabulation. Mills led from the beginning with a 5-point lead to a margin of more than eight percent at the final tally. In that final round, all but nearly 8,900 of the 126,000 Democratic voters still had active ballots – an astonishing 93 percent had ranked Cote or Mills on their ballots.

Though the secretary of state did not run an RCV tabulation in the Republican race, the Daily News did approximate what it would have looked like, based on its exit poll. Even though Moody urged voters to rank him first and not rank any other candidates, fully 65 percent of Republican voters reported ranking more than one, demonstrating that voters will use the opportunity to express themselves when it is available.

"The results tracked well with unofficial results, pegging Moody at 53 percent, Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason at 26.3 percent, former Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew at 15.2 percent and House Minority Leader Ken Fredette at 4.5 percent. (They won 56.5 percent, 22.9 percent, 15 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively.)

With four candidates in the field, 69 Republicans surveyed — or 35 percent — only ranked one choice, while 47 percent of them ranked a third choice. Only 40 percent of Republicans ranked a fourth choice as the Maine Republican Party led a messaging campaign against the method."

Read the full analysis here.

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