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Remember The Maine (electoral Vote)!

Politico on the electoral map after McCain's dramatic decision to abandon Michigan:

The count is so tight that Maine could be the new Ohio. To explain: McCain is moving staff into Maine because it’s not a winner-take-all state (the only other one that splits its electoral vote is Nebraska). 

The McCain aides, perhaps optimistically, are suggesting he can win one electoral vote by picking up one of the Pine Tree State’s two congressional districts. 

The Maine congressional district McCain is eying is the northern one, District 2, the larger of the two districts, which covers most of the state and is held by Rep. Michael H. Michaud (D).

Recent polls have showed Obama running strong in some states Bush won in 2004. But the McCain official said the campaign is confident: “We feel strongly that we’re going to win in Florida, Missouri and the traditional Republican states of Virginia and North Carolina.”

One McCain official acknowledged that the campaign is feeling the pressure from the better-funded Obama. "He has an extraordinary amount of resources," the official said.

Here's a scenario where Maine really counts: Say McCain holds the Bush 2004 states--including, critically, Virginia and Florida. But he loses Iowa (that looks likely) as well as Obama-leaning Colorado and New Mexico. Yet he steals away New Hampshire, where the polls are close, where he's won two primaries, and where Obama suffered a mysteriously unforseen primary defeat in January. That puts us at 269-269. And one electoral vote could indeed decide the outcome. (Map it yourself here. Note to Time to make Maine divisible!)  

What are McCain's chances? Hard to say. Overall Maine is leaning several points for Obama. A September 22-23 SurveyUSA poll found Obama running five points ahead of McCain in both the north and south parts of the state.

But that's a bit closer statewide than 2004, when Kerry won Maine 53.6-44.6. District 2 was a little tighter than that, going for Kerry 52-46, according to this Wikipedia page. Maine can be eccentric, though. It was Ross Perot's best state in both 1992 and 1996. Perot placed second there in '92, and actually won several counties in District 2. Still, it was the Republican, George H. W. Bush, whom Perot edged out--not Bill Clinton.

P.S.  As always with this scenario, remember that Nebraska is the same basic deal. More on that another time.

--Michael Crowley