With nearly two-thirds of the vote counted Tuesday night, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden led his Republican challenger by a margin that may prove more than enough in a close contest for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

Sample ballot for the 2nd District congressional race.

Golden led the GOP’s Bruce Poliquin by a 48-45 margin late Tuesday, which is likely to win him a third term when the second-place votes of independent Tiffany Bond are added in the days ahead in the ranked-choice race.

Four years ago, it took nine days for election officials to figure out who won Maine’s 2nd Congressional District race in the first federal ranked-choice voting.

The timing may not be much different this time around.

With three of the same candidates as 2018 on the ballot and another close contest between Golden, a two-term Lewiston Democrat, and Poliquin, of Orrington, victory may belong to the one who can pick up the most second-place votes among independent Tiffany Bond’s backers.

If history and polling are any indication, they are likely to break sharply in favor of Golden.


Late Tuesday, there weren’t enough ballots counted to show definitively who won or lost in the sprawling, hardscrabble district that generally encompasses western and northern Maine.  But Golden’s lead appeared unlikely to falter enough to change the apparent outcome.

Golden appeared to be holding his own in many of the smaller towns that dot the largest district east of the Mississippi River, including many that had not yet reported their results.

In a statement issued after the polls closed, Golden said, “We look forward to the final results. We respect and appreciate our democratic institutions and believe that every vote must be counted in accordance with the law.”

The race attracted national attention in a year when Democrats are struggling to hang on to a thin majority in the U.S. House because Golden’s district twice voted for former President Donald Trump.

More than $25 million poured into the contest, paying the tab for more than 25,000 television commercials along with reams of mailers, radio spots and social media advertising. In addition, both parties ran extensive get-out-the-vote efforts.

Bond, who spent less than $5,000, relied largely on social media to push her longshot campaign in which she portrayed herself as a reasonable, common-sense alternative. She said she collected $4,570.03 in donations from 65 donors.


She said that the big money spent touting or trashing the other candidates helped her.

“I’m excited to see how many folks in Maine are as fed up with money in politics as I am,” Bond said Tuesday.

Four years ago, she attracted 6% of the overall vote in a four-way race in which Golden knocked Poliquin out of the office he’d held since 2014. This year, she had 7% of the vote with about a third of the tally counted on election night.

Tiffany Bond, left, Jared Golden and Bruce Poliquin Submitted photos

In the first round of the vote count, Poliquin held a narrow lead over Golden, but when Bond and independent Will Hoar, who got 2% of the vote, were dropped from contention, election officials added the independents’ second-choice picks to the tally. That gave Golden enough to win in one of the closest races in the land.

Poliquin challenged the result in a federal court case, but a Trump-appointed judge gutted his arguments and left Golden as the victor.

This year, Poliquin, Golden and Bond vowed to accept the ranked choice results that Maine voters have come to understand better. Poliquin even urged Bond voters to pick him second.


Poliquin ran hard right to the end of the race, often making joint appearances with former Gov. Paul LePage. He talked extensively about hot button issues such as crime, border security and inflation as he took aim at claims that Golden is a moderate on Capitol Hill.

During the closing days of the campaign, Golden spent time thanking volunteers and organizers in many towns, including Waterville, Augusta, Farmington, Norway and Mexico.

After the polls closed, Golden thanked “the people of Maine’s 2nd District for sending me to represent them in Congress these last four years. It is an honor.

“I also want to thank the many supporters and volunteers who have worked hard for my re-election campaign,” the lawmaker said. “My hat goes off to my hardworking and dedicated campaign team who have helped me to run a campaign that we all can be proud of. I am as always deeply grateful to my family and friends for their love and support.”


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