Voices & Choices

Early results from Maine show multiple races headed to “instant runoff”

Early results from Maine show multiple races headed to “instant runoff”

Maine held primary elections with ranked choice voting (RCV) on Tuesday, the second time using RCV for primaries since implementation in 2018. First-choice results were released on election night, determining which races have a first-round majority winner and which races will need an “instant runoff” to select the winner.

At least three candidates appeared on the ballot in nine races, giving voters more say and the ability to use RCV. Below are first-choice preferences.

Ranked Choice Voting Primaries in Maine

The most high-profile race was the U.S. Senate primary to determine which Democrat will challenge incumbent U.S. Senator Susan Collins in one of the most competitive and expensive Senate races in the country. Speaker of the Maine State House Sara Gideon emerges from the three-way primary race as the winner with an overwhelming majority of 70 percent of first-choice preferences.

Another high-profile race is the Republican primary for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District with the winner challenging incumbent Representative Jared Golden. Golden narrowly won his seat in 2018 in Maine’s first RCV congressional general election. With Dale Crafts leading in first-choice preferences but falling short of majority support, the election will move into an instant runoff tally later this month.

The FairVote / SurveyUSA poll of the 2nd District accurately predicted the outcome of first-choice preferences. Our poll suggests that Crafts is highly likely to obtain a majority win in the second round. Both of Crafts’ primary opponents have already conceded the race.

At least three other races will also trigger an instant runoff. Close results, such as the 39% - to - 36% outcome in the 47th State House District, underscore the need for RCV. The two frontrunners, Arthur Bell and Heather Abbott, are separated by less than 100 votes, and both are far from achieving a majority of first-choice preferences which would indicate that they are truly the preferred nominee for their district. This race will consider the second-choice preferences of the last-place finisher and ensure a nominee with majority support.

These results are an early preview of what could be in store in the general election in November. Maine’s U.S. Senate race will include two Independent candidates in addition to Collins and Gideon so voters will once again use ranked choice voting.

Stay tuned for an update with results from the RCV tallies.

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