Candidate recruitment in Maine

Another impact of the election day registration vote

Candidate recruitment mattersBy this time, individuals are at least beginning to consider whether to run for the state legislature in 2012.

And it is also a time for political parties and other groups to reach out to prospective candidates to encourage them to run.

While a lot of candidates self-recruit, many — especially women — only run after being encouraged to do so.

The overwhelming vote in support of election day registration just made Democrats’ job easier. If Question 1 had lost, the political narrative would have been that the Maine Republican party has solid public support.

Instead, the landslide shows that Republican leadership overreached and adopted an unpopular policy. The percentage of the vote on the No side was roughly what Governor LePage received in 2010.

Now, reporter Steve Mistler is correct that the coalition for Question 1 did not have a partisan face and did not put forth a partisan message. 

And there is no doubt that, as the 61% who did not vote for Governor LePage are heterogeneous, so are Yes on 1 voters. 

Moreover, and very important for state legislative races, there is plenty of variety in different geographic areas and legislative districts.

But in swing districts, this vote should get the attention of those involved in candidate recruitment. Democrats would be better expected to be able to recruit higher quality candidates, while Republicans would be expected to have more difficulty.

One more thing: By next year, election day registration may not be much of a campaign issue. However, if the newly passed health insurance law continues to be associated with increased health care costs in rural areas of the state, this may motivate Democratic candidates to run, whether or not they were subject to recruitment messages. And that issue can be expected to be a signficant part of the 2012 campaign.

Thus, while the Question 1 vote has implications for policy in the coming state legislative session, the policies passed and the People’s Veto vote have implications for 2012 candidate recruitment.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.