National leaders in the Democratic and Republican parties will visit Maine Friday, underscoring the role the state may have in determining the presidential race.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus will stop in Westbrook Friday afternoon at one the party’s 10 “victory centers.” Later on Friday, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, co-chairman of President Obama’s re-election campaign, will attend a dinner hosted by the Maine Democratic Party at the Sable Oaks Mariott in South Portland.
The dueling visits come as Obama and Republican Mitt Romney intensify efforts to win key battleground states. Maine doesn’t qualify as a battleground state, as Obama is expected to win big here, as he did in 2008. However, Maine’s method of dividing its four electoral votes is feeding Republican hopes that they can pick up one vote in November.
Maine and Nebraska are the only two states in the nation that do not have a winner-take-all system for awarding electors. Maine awards its two electoral votes to the overall winner in the state and then one vote to the winner of each of two congressional districts.
The Republican-controlled Legislature passed a new redistricting map last year that carved out Democratic-leaning Waterville from the 2nd Congressional District. Their hope is that the redistricting plan will increase their chances of picking up the one electoral vote.
Democrats are fairly confident that won’t happen, citing Obama’s decisive victory here in 2008 and the popularity of 2nd District U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine.
A poll released last week by the Maine Peoples Resource Center reported that Obama led Romney 48-41 in the 2nd district compared to 54-37 statewide.
David Sorensen, communications director for the Maine Republican Party, said Friday that Preibus’ visit ties into the RNC’s investment to triple its presence in Maine.
Preibus’ visit was announced early Friday morning. There was some speculation that Romney’s son, Tagg Romney, would visit Maine. However, it appears that Tagg Romney will do a pair of television interviews in Portland before being redeployed to New Hampshire, one of at least 10 battleground states.
Recent polls show that many of the battleground states have broken for Obama, a result that national pundits attribute to a viral secret video in which Romney derisively describes 47 percent of Americans as recipients of government handouts. The Obama campaign has since used the video in a political ad.