Here’s how that could happen: In 2010, LePage won with 38 percent of the vote. In the current race, four polls over the past few weeks peg his support at anywhere between 37 percent and 41 percent, though only two of them show him winning with that slice of the electorate. If the support holds at the lower end — and he wins — LePage would be the nation’s first “30/30 governor,” according to a Smart Politics analysis of roughly 3,000 post-colonial gubernatorial elections.
Of course, the race for governor in Maine is incredibly tight: it’s the third most competitive gubernatorial race in the country, according to our The Fix colleagues. Independent Eliot Cutler earned an average of 15 percent across those same four polls, while Democratic congressman Mike Michaud claimed between 34 and 41 percent of the vote, leading LePage in two of them.
It’s also exceedingly rare for sitting governors to win reelection with less than 40 percent of the vote — it’s only ever happened to 11 people. Two of them were Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Maine Gov. John Baldacci (D), who in 2006 won reelection with 39 percent and 38 percent of the vote, respectively. Those two broke a streak: before that, no sitting governor had been allowed to stay in office with such low support since 1912.
If LePage can pull it off, he’ll become the 12th governor to win reelection below that cutoff — and the only one ever to win with less than 40 percent of the vote twice in a row.