A tiny district in Maine could decide the election

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One congressional district in a state that nobody pays attention to could find itself at the center of American politics. That district's single electoral vote could spell the difference between a razor-thin win and a tie. Seriously.

Maine is one of just two states that apportion electoral votes by congressional district and not by the total state count. The state has four total votes. Two go to the statewide winner, and one each goes to the winners in the two congressional districts.

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District 1 along the coast is firmly Democratic. And as of now, District 2 had been in the Clinton tally too. But what almost no one is talking about is that for Trump to get to 270 electoral votes, he has to carry Maine's 2nd congressional district, which has exactly one electoral vote.

As you can see on the map below (in the upper circle beside Maine), "ME2" is now red. This gives Trump the one vote he needs for a win.

Election polls are not very helpful

If you look at the polls since early September, they are all over the place, from Trump up big to Clinton with a solid majority. The most recent poll shows Clinton with a 2-point advantage, but when averaged with another poll, Trump has an advantage of half a point. And that's with Gary Johnson getting 7% support and Jill Stein getting 2.5%.

The Democratic presidential nominee has won in Maine CD 2 in every presidential race since 1992. The district had a Democratic congressman from 1995 to 2014. Then the Republican candidate, small businessman Bruce Poliquin, was able to win the district with 47% of the vote.

This is because an independent candidate took enough votes to keep the Democrat from winning.

Campaign spending in Maine breaks all records

Spending on this race has shattered previous records. Both parties recognize the significance of this one little district. Seventy-five members of Congress have dipped into their own funds to support the candidates. Additional money has come in from party-affiliated organizations and outside political action committees.

This amount of spending and attention on the district means the outcome in Maine CD 2 (as it will be called on election night on all the networks if it becomes important) is truly unpredictable. If Maine CD 2, with its one electoral vote, flips back to Clinton and Trump wins Florida, then we could end up in an Electoral College tie.

That would send the decision to the House of Representatives. Wouldn't that be fun?

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What will small-town America decide?

The district itself is enormous. It is the largest congressional district east of the Mississippi. Much of it is "moose country," sparsely populated. It is one of the poorest regions in the nation. Here is a map of the district.

Maine CD 2 is typical small-town America. It contains nearly 80% of the state's total land area, and 72% of it is rural. It is almost 96% Caucasian. There is 10% unemployment and a college graduate composition of about 20%. The median family income is 20% lower than the US average.

This district is the battleground of frustrated America. The paper mills and other industries have been closing down, as are the solid union jobs. It's a hard-knock life for many of the residents.

So I think it's fitting that this one small district has the potential to determine the future of our country. I readily admit that it's not the America I live in, but it fits the image that many of us hold in our minds when we think of America. Not the beat of the city, but the pulse of the country.

All eyes will likely be on Maine on Tuesday night.

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Read the original article on Mauldin Economics. Copyright 2016.

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