The Absent Majority

The Absent Majority

Gage Skidmore (Paul Lepage); Curt Fletcher (Joe Brennan)

Why the recent ballyhoo over ranked-choice voting? Maine once enjoyed good old two-party rule: GOPer versus Dem for governor, majority winner assured. Then, in 1974, independent Jim Longley split the vote to win with just 40 percent. Ever since, Blaine House races have yielded some of the country’s most fractured and erratic politics — which is saying something. In 8 of 10 contests, the victor has lacked a majority (which happens, on average, twice every 10 elections in other states). Last fall, voters approved a switch to a ranked-choice system of instant runoffs, guaranteeing someone always cracks 50 percent, but a plurality-take-all clause in the state constitution has mired the measure in uncertainty. Still, the impulse to try something — anything — else is hard to resist after four politically nutty decades. — W.G.


Will Grunewald

Will Grunewald is Down East's associate editor.