As the First 28% of Maine Goes ...

... so, perhaps, goes the other 72%? Three hours after the voting booths closed, Eliot Cutler -- the Independent candidate for governor of Maine who was far behind in polls ten days ago but has staged a late surge -- holds a lead over the rest of the field. He is at 38%; the Republican Paul LePage, far ahead in all polls, is at 33%; and the Democrat Libby Mitchell is at 22%.

I wish I knew how precincts already counted compare with the ones still out. One of many reasons this may be a long night.
 UPDATE: Intel from the Portland Press Herald says that the numbers will tighten as results from "more smaller towns" come in, but the surprising weakness in Democratic figures may bode well for Cutler.

>>While Cutler was leading LePage comfortably in early returns, the numbers are expected to tighten as more smaller towns report results.

However, the poor results for Mitchell clearly boded well for Cutler, who was drawing Democratic voters and undecided voters in the final days and weeks of the campaign.

"One of the parties has to collapse for the independent to win," said Kenneth Palmer, professer emeritus at the University of Maine. In 1974 when Independent Jim Longley won in the final days of the campaign, it was the Republican candidate who collapsed.

"This year, should Cutler hold his lead, you'd have to say its the democratic campaign" that collapsed, Palmer said.<<

We'll see....

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

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