Non-Republicans called for Snowe

Voting with her party while calls go to unenrolleds

A friend, who is an unenrolled voter (or what people outside of Maine call an “independent”) sent me this:

I thought you might be interested in a phone “poll” i got last evening.  If it purported to be a canvass of unenrolled voters (when the first couple of questions were asked about my voting “in primaries and elections” I stopped the canvasser and said “I don’t vote in primaries, I’m unenrolled and not interested” he said, “that’s O.K., that’s actually why we’re calling this evening). 

He went into this spiel about how its not too late to enroll in the REPUBLICAN primary, and if I were to enroll in the Republican primary would I vote for Olympia Snowe or her opponent.

It was a total push-poll.  I told them I have no intention of enrolling and would not, and that stopped the thing as the rest of the questions were premised on me being willing to entertain the idea.

It was interesting on many levels: 1.  Snowe’s campaign might actually be worried about the Tea Party challenger, Andrew Ian Dodge?, 2.  She’s reaching out to the unenrolled to get on the Republican lists – what does that say about Maine’s current Republican enrollment?, 3.  Is there any chance she might actually lose?  I assumed not – especially with LePage’s endorsement covering her right-wing. 

Does Senator Snowe want insurance from unenrolled voters?This is definitely an interesting development, with my friend raising some excellent questions.  With various incumbent Republicans challenged and defeated last year by Tea Party opponents, and with polls showing that Senator Snowe is more popular among independents than in her own party, some have wondered if there might be a credible threat to her receiving the Republican nomination. 

In Maine, unenrolled voters can show up on election day, change their registration to Republican, and vote in the primary.

(It is no small irony that had election day registration gone the way of the dodo, as Maine state Republican office-holders and party officials overwhelmingly desired, this option would have been gone.  Unenrolleds would have been able to change their registrations before election day of course, but that would have made the process more difficult and thus generated lower turnout among unenrolleds.)

Senator Snowe looks to have been moving right.  Although she voted against the second major Bush tax cut, unlike Senator Collins she has opposed raising the marginal tax rate on millionaires to finance a continuation of the payroll tax cut.

In addition, Senator Snowe has been backing a myriad of filibusters and procedural votes, including blocking the vote on Richard Cordray’s nomination to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Her argument about why she is against this nomination hinges on her claim that she doesn’t like the way the agency is set up — despite having voted for the agency in just this configuration last year.

Still, one prominent Maine Tea Partier recently expressed concern that Senator Snowe would eventually vote for Cordray and expressed suspicions about her conservative bona fides.

While Snowe’s challengers on her right have not appeared to look particularly strong, her campaign looks like it wants insurance from unenrolled voters.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.