Maine 1st District
The 1st District of Maine stretches from southernmost Kittery and nearby Kennebunkport to the craggy-shored ancestrally Republican counties to the east. The historic center is Portland, Maine’s largest city, home to the yuppies and lawyers who have revived and renovated its downtown landmarks. Portland’s antique charm, mostly booming economy and tolerant lifestyle have made it a haven for singles and gays. The 2000 census reported that Portland has the nation’s third-largest concentration of women living together and the 10th-largest concentration of men living together. Maine legalized gay marriage in 2009. L.L.Bean is not far away in Freeport. Former farm towns have been transformed into suburbia, and old mill towns like Biddeford and Sanford have been redeveloped. The 2005 base-closing commission spared Portsmouth Naval Shipyard at Kittery, the nation’s oldest continually operating naval shipyard, and in 2009, Portsmouth announced the hiring of 400 more civilian workers. But the commission voted to close down the Brunswick Naval Air Station in 2011, costing the area $211 million in annual wages and military contracts. Redevelopment authorities faced decisions about what to do with the station’s 3,200 acres of real estate, two runways, and 700 empty housing units.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Most voters in the 1st District live within a couple hours drive of the Maine Mall, which is just off the Maine Turnpike and Interstate 295 and is the state’s heaviest concentration of retail and office space. But in a lifestyle more reminiscent of the Alaska wilderness, those who live on the district’s remote islands depend on ferries and Cessna aircraft as their lifeline to the mainland. In the summer, the air traffic includes the families of Fortune 500 executives traveling to their estates. In the winter, lobstermen and local business owners board most flights. Lobsters are not just a tradition here but also an economic resource. The industry experienced a boom for several years, but in 2008 the economic crisis sent sales plunging. Politically, the 1st District votes very much like the state as a whole: quirkily, often for independents, and splitting tickets with abandon. In 2008, every county voted not only for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama but also for Republican Sen. Susan Collins. Obama won 61%-38%. From 1968 to 1996, Maine elected three Democrats and three Republicans to the House, with each party holding the seat for 14 years.