Donald Trump will make his fourth visit to Maine since June this Friday, an attempt that shows the Republican nominee plans to grab every single electoral vote he can to make it to 270.
As Mr. Trump lags behind in the polls, the viability of his campaign in its final days has come into question. On Sunday, his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, acknowledged that the real estate mogul’s bid for president had fallen behind Hillary Clinton’s campaign, but noted that the GOP candidate could still come back against Mrs. Clinton’s “tremendous advantages” to win the race. While his lack of grassroots efforts has some wondering if he can mobilize voters to make it to the polls, Trump has used a strategy that focuses heavily on creating enthusiasm among voters by making more in-person campaign stops himself.
“Our advantage is that Donald Trump is just going to take the case directly to the people,” Ms. Conway said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. “He doesn’t expect to be able to cut through the noise or the silence and the way we’re treated by some.”
It appears the next step of his plan is to take the campaign directly to voters in Maine, a Democratic-leaning state.
While much of the election has focused on swing states with a bigger chunk of electoral votes, such as Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio, Maine only has four, making it one of the smaller prizes nationwide. But like Nebraska, Maine’s electoral votes break down differently from the 48 other states: While the vast majority of states’ electoral votes are winner take all, Maine and Nebraska’s split by congressional district. That means Trump could stand to gain a vote or two from a state that favors Clinton by motivating conservative voters there to head to the polls.
As Politico reports, Trump is targeting voters in the Second Congressional District in the north, where polls show he has a sizable lead over Clinton.
The state is split between the more liberal 1st District, which includes Portland and its suburbs, and the more rural, conservative 2nd District — along what Rick Bennett, the state GOP chairman, calls the “Volvo line.” “North of that you don’t see any Volvos,” Bennett said, adding: “They’ve always talked about the two Maines, but I think it’s really becoming politically palpable now.”
Demographics are not on Democrats’ side north of the Volvo line. White voters without college degrees make up the bedrock of Trump’s support nationwide, and they make up a greater share of voters in the 2nd District than in almost any district in the country.
On Friday morning, Trump will visit Lisbon, Maine, a town of about 9,000 people that lies some 30 miles north of Portland. It’s his second stop in the state this month, in addition to visits from his sons Donald Jr. and Eric. Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, will visit Omaha, which lies in the Clinton-targeted Second Congressional District of Nebraska. With less than two weeks left in the race, grabbing single electoral votes in those states may be part of his most viable route to victory in a close contest.
But Trump’s strategy will need a boost from other states in addition to those few extra electoral votes in places such as Maine. In order to win on Nov. 8, he’ll have to hold the now contested former GOP stronghold states of North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia, and Utah, while also taking swing states like Iowa Ohio, Florida, Nevada, and New Hampshire.
Despite pouring time and money into states like Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan, and Wisconsin, those votes now seem out of reach for Trump, as Clinton has taken a significant and sustained lead there.
Whether or not Trump’s Maine visit can earn him an electoral vote has yet to be seen, but choosing Lisbon as the designated stop could give his campaign a boost. While Clinton has taken Trump by nearly double digits in polls from the First Congressional District, Lisbon borders Lewiston, the largest city in the conservative Second District. It’s also home to Maine’s Senate Republican majority leader Garrett Mason, who gave his support to Trump during the Republican National Convention.