Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

Angus King: Too Independent for Maine Senate?

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Angus King

King mixes it up in the Maine Senate race. AP photo

In Maine, the Senate race is heating up. For a while, Former Governor Angus King was a clear front runner. King is running as an Independent candidate and was so popular early on that current Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree put a halt to her efforts to replace Olympia Snow in the Senate.

King’s prospects began to change, however, when he announced to voters that he does not plan to caucus with either party. Jason Linkins described King in a Huffington Post article as “a bog-standard center-lefty Dem,” and this perception is beginning to present King with roadblocks in his campaign. King’s ideas on health care and tax cuts leave no doubt as to which way he leans, yet he still makes it clear that he does not intend to pick a side anytime soon.

Other candidates are using King’s odd stance on caucusing as an advantage in the six-way race. According to Public Policy Polling, King is “winning only 13% of the Republican vote at this point, but he’s losing 26% of the Democratic vote to Dill,” and the GOP is wasting no time putting out ads against King to reduce that 13%.

Despite all the fuss Senate Republicans are making about King’s supposed Democrat-in-disguise status, he may have the right idea. According an article in the Maine Sun Journal, “the state’s largest voter bloc has no party affiliation” which could be an advantage for King in the long run. King has tried to keep his appeal up with these openminded Mainers (that’s what they go by, if you ever wondered), assuring that he will “choose [his] positions based on the facts, the science and the data, not what someone tells [him] is the party line.”

King’s apparent refusal to caucus with either party has set that nonpartisan status even further into stone, but the question remains: should he be more focused on gaining support from partisan voters? At this point, many voters are so fed up with such a strongly partisan Congress that King’s novel angle might be just what Mainers want to hear. This will be a race to keep an eye on, especially to see whether or not King eventually budges and confirms GOP suspicions by deciding he’ll caucus with Democrats.

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