See 2012 Senate Elections - Who's Winning, Who's Losing for an overview of all 33 US Senate races, on a state-by-state basis.
The Incumbent US Senator
Sen. Olympia Snowe, a Republican, was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994, and reelected in 2000 and 2006. Sen. Snowe is running for reelection to a fourth term in 2012. Snowe was an 8-term House of Representatives member, from 1979 to 1995.
Sen. Snowe is regarded as among the most liberal Republican senators on social issues, and holds pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-gun control viewpoints. Sen. Snowe supported the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and is a fiscal conservative.
In the 112th Congress, Sen. Snowe is a member of several prestigious Senate committees, including Finance, Intelligence, and Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
On February 28, 2012, Sen. Snow shocked pundits and political-watchers by announcing her plans to not stand for reelection in November 2012. Although she won reelection in both 2000 and 2006 by wide margins, Sen. Snowe was being challenged in 2012 by large fields of both Democratic and Republican candidates.
Maine's 2012 Senate Race
Six Republicans have declared their candidacies for Main'es Republican primary election, including:
- Bruce Poliquin, Maine State Treasurer
- William Schneider, Maine Attorney General
- Charles E. Summers, Jr., Maine Secretary of State
Maine's primary elections will be held on June 12, 2012. As of early May, a large portion of voters from both parties remain undecided on their candidate choice, per various polls.
Who Will Win?
RealClearPolitics.com rates Maine's 2012 U.S. Senate as "Leans GOP," a fairly weak rating, just short of "Toss-Up," reflecting a strong possibility that Democrats could newly capture this seat from Republicans.
Maine voted for the Democratic candidate in the last four presidential contests, yet for almost two decades, both senators have hailed from the Republican party.
One possible reason for resurgent Democratic political might in Maine is frustration with Tea Party-affiliated Gov. Paul LePage, elected to office in November 2010.
Recent Election Results
Maine's two U.S. senators serving in the 112th Congress (2011 to 2012) are:
- Republican Olympia Snowe, serving her third term
- Republican Susan Collins, serving her third term
Both members of Maine's delegation to the House of Representatives are Democrats.
In the last four presidential elections, Maine voted as follows:
- 2008 - 58% for Democrat Obama, 40% for Republican McCain
- 2004 - 54% for Democrat Kerry, 45% for Republican Bush
- 2000 - 49% for Democrat Gore, 44% for Republican Bush, 7% for Other
- 1996 - 52% for Democrat Clinton, 31% for Republican Dole, 17% for Other
Unemployment Rate as of June 2011 - Maine's unemployment rate of 7.8% is below the national average, and ranks 29th among all states.
Foreclosure Rates as of June 2011 - Maine's foreclosure rate of 1 in every 2110 homes is far below the national average, and ranks 41st among all states.
State Residents Living Below Poverty-Level Income - Maine's poverty rate of 12.3% ranks 26th among states.
Labor Union Membership - Maine is home to 84,000 labor union members, representing 14.7% of the state's workers.
Senior Citizen Population - Senior citizens comprise 15.9% of all Maine residents, a very high percentage that ranks 3rd among all state, trailing only Florida and West Virginia.
African-American Population - Only 1% of Maine residents are African-Americans.
Hispanic Population - Only 1.3% of Maine residents are of Hispanic heritage, ranking 49th among all states.