The Economist published a column about the independent candidacy of Angus King in their most recent issue, and it offered an interesting point about the unique historical independent streak of Maine’s voters:
“Voters in Maine seem to like the idea of transcending partisan politics. For decades they sent to Congress Margaret Chase Smith, who publicly rebuked her fellow Republican Joseph McCarthy for his anti-communist witch-hunts. Both Mrs Snowe and the state’s other current senator, Susan Collins, are similarly independent-minded: the National Journal rated them the two most liberal Republicans in the Senate last year. Ross Perot, an independent presidential candidate, won 30% of the vote in the state in 1992. Mr King himself got elected governor as an independent twice in the 1990s, following a trail blazed by another businessman-turned-politician in the 1970s. Another independent candidate came within 2% of clinching the governorship in 2010. And Mr King looks likely to romp home this year: he is polling at 50% or more in a three-way race.”
Another highlight from the column was The Economist’s look at the state of hyperpartisan politics in Congress, and the chances of Mr. King spearheading a centrist revival if and when he is elected to the Senate:
“Moreover, even as kingmaker, it is not at all clear that Mr King could bring about the change he seeks. The Senate’s insufferable procedures, which can usually be changed only by a two-thirds majority, would again be an obstacle. More important, as Mrs Snowe lamented, the chamber is becoming ever more polarised. The coming elections are likely to thin the ranks of centrist Democrats even further, and may also pick off Scott Brown of Massachusetts, one of the few remaining moderate Republicans. Even if the rules were to change, the duelling mindset instilled by Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, the leaders of the two parties in the Senate, would not.
As for Mr King’s hopes of spearheading a revival of centrism, Americans often profess frustration with partisan politics, but seldom embrace opportunities to shake up the two-party system. The Reform Party, launched by Mr Perot, fizzled out. This year Americans Elect, a movement to field a bipartisan presidential ticket against the main nominees, was well on its way to getting on the ballot in all 50 states. It nonetheless failed to attract any plausible candidates, and ended up shutting itself down.”
While the whole column is well worth a read, the final paragraph included a succinct description of the chance that King is upset in November by a slew of negative attack ads, likely financed by independent expenditures (which have already started):
Mr King, who has raised only about $1m so far, still fears that shady electioneering outfits will throw a few million dollars’ worth of attacks ads at him before election day, just to see if they stick. Even when you are high in the polls, it seems, it is not easy being an independent.