Election Day Predictions - Part One

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Steven: Election Day is tomorrow, and for an off-off-year election, there are quite a few hot races. What do you say we quickly go through the top races and pick who we think will win, and who we want to win?

Lance: Sounds good. Happily, I’m not working on any of these campaigns, so I’m free to make smart-ass comments about the work of our political colleagues.

Left Brain: Steven Biel

Steven Biel is a political consultant and former campaign director at the progressive group MoveOn.org. He lives in Portland with his wife and two kids.

Right Brain: Lance Dutson

Lance Dutson is a political communications consultant, veteran of Maine Republican campaigns, and owner of As Maine Goes. He lives in Falmouth.

Steven: Statewide, we have Question 1, the initiative to restore Maine’s Clean Elections law after it was gutted by the same Supreme Court justices who were responsible for Citizens United.

I support it, and I think it’ll pass. Mainers know that if we want a government that responds to the needs of real people, then we can’t have a legislature that's beholden to wealthy donors. And Republicans like you, who have spent so much time complaining about Donald Sussman’s campaign spending, should vote yes as well!

Lance: If there’s one political belief I’m a fundamentalist about, it’s this one. I’m opposed to government-funded elections down to the finest strand of my DNA, and I don’t think even the Citizens United ruling went far enough to protect the sanctity of the First Amendment from the grubby mitts of government censorship.

However, a few things I abhor even more are horribly run campaigns and race-baiting. The No on 1 campaign has been run so poorly and with such embarrassingly poor taste that they have turned off even hardcore opponents of Clean Elections. The Yes side will win this in a landslide, and in the aftermath I hope there is some serious discussion about why alienation is not a winning campaign tactic.

From Joel Stetkis’ efforts to conflate the issue with “Skowhegan Indian Pride” to Paul LePage’s cromagnon-ly sexist remarks that Clean Elections is “like giving my wife the checkbook,” these guys have really made a mess of this. I’ve seen members of the campaign on Facebook berating those who disagree with them, hurling insults at random voters. This is not how you win a majority of votes in Maine, and I think the results on Tuesday will make this clear.

Steven: I applaud your willingness to speak out against racially divisive tactics, but ultimately that’s not why your side is going to lose. Mainers have always supported Clean Elections, and if the No on 1 side had focused on your message about how great Citizens United is, they’d be doing even worse.

Lance: Portland has two big issues on the ballot as well. What’s your take on those?

Steven: Portland is voting on the $15 minimum wage. I’m voting yes because people who work full-time shouldn’t have to rely on food stamps—and also because putting more money in working people’s pockets is a stimulus to the economy.

Of course the same people who predicted economic Armageddon in Seattle when they went to $15 an hour are now saying Portland will sink into the ocean if more people get a decent wage. But Seattle has had $15 an hour in place since April, and total employment in the restaurant industry there is exactly where it was before.

Still, I don’t think it’ll pass. The polls have been reasonably close, but the Green Party backers never had a plan to put together the money or organization necessary to win. The national SEIU-backed Fight for $15 campaign wasn’t really consulted on the strategy, and it's no surprise that they’re not spending a dime here.

That said, without $15 on the ballot, the Portland City Council would never have passed $10.10. So give the Greens their due. They took on a big issue and forced action.

Lance: Raising the minimum wage means fewer jobs, period. It’s just math. Why liberal Democrats continue to insist on larger pieces of pie for fewer people is a mystery to me. The question here is whether the voters of Portland are versed in the tenets of market economics. I’m pretty certain the answer to that question is a resounding no, and that’s why I think this measure has a good chance of passing.

Steven: Portland is also voting on an initiative to block the Portland Company redevelopment at 58 Fore Street. It’s going to go down in flames because voters see it for what it is: a handful of overly entitled NIMBYs who think they have a God-given right to a water view. As far as I’m concerned, if they want to see the water, they can walk down to the Eastern Prom like the rest of us.

Lance: Portland’s struggle to balance development with maintaining quality of place is an important one. In this case, though, I think we’ve got an internecine battle between wealthy interests--those developing and those seeking to save their million-dollar views. I tend to side with progress, and I think the development of that property will be good for the city. Shutting it down will send a bad message, that Portland doesn’t want new investments.

I don’t know who has the advantage on the ground on this one, though, as the operatives running both campaigns are tested and talented. It’s a coin toss for me.

Steven: Well, we’re almost 900 words in, and we haven’t even gotten to the red-hot mayoral races in Portland and Lewiston! I think for the sake of our readers, we’re going to have to finish this conversation in Part Two.

Lance: Sounds good. Everyone check back for our final Election Day predictions.

Click here to read Part Two >>