Maine's electorate is getting more divided. See how your town is split.
After Democratic President Barack Obama’s election, every Maine county but Knox swung to the right.
Backlash against a newly elected president is typical, but trends in voter registration show that something different is happening in Maine after the election of Donald Trump: Many parts of the state are doubling down.
That alone doesn’t indicate who’s going to win at the polls. By outright numbers, Democrats continue to wield an advantage that helped them to victories at the Blaine House, the Legislature and Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.
But underneath that, Republicans continued to gain a greater share of the electorate in 2018, as unenrolled voters dropped off dramatically and third-party registrations hit a standstill.
In your town, perhaps the product of that increasing partisanship is visible: bumper stickers or hats or giant lawn signs parading victory.
Communities including Gorham and Auburn are among the largest communities where both Democrats and Republicans gained a greater share of local registered voters after Trump’s election.
And that was fairly uncommon for 2018. More than
45% of registered Maine voters lived in communities where the partisan divide widened. After Obama’s election,
35% of voters lived in areas where that divide increased (
55% of Maine voters lived in areas that swung Republican).
By county, the map is almost a stereotype: after Trump’s election, every coastal county but for Washington got bluer, as did Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ home turf, Franklin County. Eight other counties got redder.
That may sound obvious, but it’s not how the map played out in 2010, when the state almost uniformly swung right.
Those trends in voter registration changes from the Maine Secretary of State’s Office reveal growing fault lines in Maine politics that have a new geographic pattern.
Follow the key takeaways in the interactive below.
1. In 2010, following Democratic President Barack Obama's election two years prior, voter registration almost everywhere in Maine went _way red._ Every county but Knox got redder. After Trump, however, the state split almost down the middle: Republican voter registration gains outpaced that of Democrats in half of counties.
2. Go more local and the contrast is even starker: After Obama, there was backlash in 96 Maine House districts that became redder; after Trump, the split couldn't have been more even, with 59 districts getting bluer and 58 getting redder.
3. At the municipal level, Democrats gained on Republicans in more populous areas, winning a greater share of registered voters in towns representing about `565,000` voters, in 2018. Democrats gained on Republicans in `170 communities`; Republicans gained in `263 communities`.
While Maine’s two most populous counties – Cumberland and York – got bluer after Trump’s election, towns in the western parts of those counties only got more divided: Republicans and Democrats gained.
Androscoggin, Kennebec and Penobscot – the third-, fourth- and fifth-most populous counties – all became redder.
That picture varies widely at the local level. For instance, the Trumpiest community in the state, Magalloway Plantation, became less partisan in 2018, with a sharp decline in Republican registration and a rise in unenrolled voters, which now make up
54 percent of local voters.
_Explore the local vote shares gained and lost by party in the visualization below. Click a bar or line representing a particular party to change the perspective of the map. For instance, clicking a Green Party data point will change the map to show local Green Party gains and losses.
The trends can be viewed for different geographic boundaries, including Maine Senate and House Districts, counties and congressional districts._