Election Day ‘11 notebook

Trying to live-blog notes and observations from the Election. I’m focusing mostly on Question 1, but I’ll try to filter in bits and pieces from the gambling referendums as well.

9:30 a.m. - Gov. LePage issues a statement clarifying his positions on the two gambling proposals, Question 2 (Biddeford-Calais) and Question 3 (Lewiston). The anti-casino folks used the governor’s taped comments from a recent forum in which he said he didn’t think the state could support five casinos. The administration clarified that statement today to say that he thinks the voters should decide the fate of the proposals.

Still, interesting tactic by the anti-casino folks. A lifelong Democrat told me that he had planned to vote no on the casinos. When he heard LePage’s comments, he changed his mind and voted yes. Something to consider for election postmortem. 

12:30 p.m. - Light traffic at Simones Hot Dog Stand, which is pretty much the center of the political universe in Lewiston on Election Day. For the record, owner Jimmy Simones says he supports giving town clerks a few extra days to verify registrations. In other words, he supports No on 1. He also

2:32 p.m. - Curious if Question 1 will drive college voters to the polls today? Me too. Called clerks in several college towns, including Gorham, Brunswick and Orono. Clerks in all three towns said the college turnout there was a little light even for a non-presidential election.

Still, some wondered if the No on 1’s emphasis on out-of-state college students voting in local elections and allegations of potential voter fraud would cause a backlash. So far, it doesn’t look that way.

3:51 p.m. Republican tea party candidate for U.S. Senate Andrew Ian Dodge is getting some attention for his comments about Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster and his ad singling out a gay advocacy group’s support for Question 1. Dodge, who hasn’t received much attention since declaring he was taking on U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said Webster should resign. 

Dodge wrote:

"The gay-bashing and xenophobic advertisements run recently by those against ballot Question 1 should be condemned by all Maine residents. Campaigners should take into account the effect this sort of publicity has on the reputation of Maine outside of the state.  Do those behind these sorts of messages not realize that the Internet will spread it nationwide in seconds? We are a state that is desperate for investment and new business. This kind of campaigning totally undermines Maine’s image—especially to those looking to invest or to re-locate a business here—and fights the good economic development work being implemented by the current Maine administration."

4:30 p.m. Quick walk up to the Lewiston Armory to check turnout at Ward 1 and 3. This is the place where most Bates College students would most likely come to vote. Ward official Lucy Bisson said about 700 people had voted so far. Bisson said that’s a pretty decent clip for an off-election year. She hoped to reach over 1,000 by the time polls close at 8 p.m. Lots of folks were using Election Day Registration. Officials set up a separate table just for Bates students. An official there said over 70 students had used EDR that day.

5 p.m. Quick phone call with Toby McGrath, who is running the yes on Question 2 campaign, which would create racinos in Biddeford and Washington County. McGrath expected a dogfight for that race because of the anticipated low turnout and the kind of voters going to the polls.

McGrath predicted victory for Yes on 1. “I think they’re going to be successful and I personally think it’s going to be a pretty good margin.” Why?

McGrath,

"They (Yes on 1) built a broad coalition, a coalition that you can turn into votes. What we’re seeing today is that we’re going to have a low turnout, even lower than 2007, which was a comparable year.
You can really affect an election when you have membership.
Their ads were good. They were clear about what this was about. They used Mainers to explain this.
I think the No on 1 people were completely all over the place. They were running 15-second ads … They weren’t that clear and they weren’t authentic.
It seemed like the whole process of September and October, the opponents of EDR all over the place. The yes on 1 were very clear about what this campaign was about.”

6 p.m. Wily Ritch, the communications director for U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, announced that the Pingree will appear on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show at 9:30 p.m. to discuss the Question 1 referendum and the Webster controversy.

8 p.m. Polls are closed. Neither side of Question 1 has exit polling, so we have to wait for the results to come in.