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Phil Harriman, a former town councilor and state senator from Yarmouth, is the founding partner of Lebel & Harriman, a financial services firm. Ethan Strimling, a former mayor and state senator from Portland, is the president of Swing Hard. Turn Left, which promotes progressive policy at the local, state and national levels.
Ethan: During our weekly podcast, I know your favorite segment is, “Love It! Hate It! Or Wake Me When It’s Over!” But my favorite part of our pontificating is when we get to make predictions.
Phil: I know. Out of curiosity, knowing that I shellack you every year in these gentlemanly wagers, why do you keep coming back for more?
Ethan: In your dreams. You are about to be swamped by the blue wave, electorally and in these pages.
Phil: Are we wagering our usual bagels versus clam chowder?
Ethan: Perfect. Let’s start with the president. I say Joe Biden beats Donald Trump by 8 percent in the popular vote nationally and by more than 100 Electoral College votes. How much do you expect Joe to win by?
Phil: Well, if you mean in Portland, I expect your numbers are close. In terms of nationwide, I see it a bit differently. I see another come-from-behind victory that causes liberals, en masse, to declare they are moving to Venezuela, the utopia of socialism.
Ethan: Venezuela? Americans aren’t even allowed in Canada, since Trump made us the COVID capital of the planet!
Phil: I say Biden wins the popular vote by 5 points, but loses the Electoral College by 10, including one electoral vote from Maine.
Ethan: All four Maine Electoral College votes for Biden in my column, as he wins the state by 10 and the 2nd Congressional District by a hair.
Phil: Biden will win Maine, but only by 5. How about our U.S. Senate seat? Toughest one to predict, I think, but I see Susan Collins squeaking it out after ranked-choice voting, 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent.
Ethan: This is the toughest one to predict. And I definitely see it as very tight. A month ago, I would have said an easy 6-point victory for Sara Gideon, but now I see a 2-point win, 51 percent to 49 percent after Lisa Savage gets 6 percent and Max Linn gets 3 percent on the first ballot.
Phil: So I take it from your last prediction, that you believe the U.S. Senate will go Democrat?
Ethan: Did I mention a blue wave? U.S. Senate flips 52-48, with Mitch McConnell finally retiring back to the nearest Death Star.
Phil: I say the Senate stays red, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie for majority rule.
Ethan: That will definitely send some of us liberals packing. Do we need to predict Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden’s races? I think we both agree it will be double-digit victories for both.
Phil: Yup. OK, lets get local. Much like the national scene, I don’t see much party flipping at the State House. Sad to say, Republicans won’t pick up any seats in the Maine Senate or House. Democrats retain 21 and 86 seats, respectively.
Ethan: Music to my ears, but I actually think we’ll expand the Senate majority by at least one and we’ll get to 90-plus in the House. The early vote advantage from Democrats, Gov. Janet Mills’ 68 percent approval for her handling of COVID-19, and the fact that Republicans left 24 seats unchallenged will propel the expansion.
Phil: OK, let’s get even more local. Although I don’t live in your fair city, from my vantage point, the opposition to Portland’s five referendums have expended considerable effort explaining the consequences of your attempts to overregulate the market. Facial surveillance and short-term rentals will pass, but rent control, the Green New Deal and minimum wage lose.
Ethan: While two out of five will make a strong statement to the City Council that they need to start listening, I actually think the $25,000 a day they are spending from fancy offices in San Francisco, Chicago and the Chamber of Commerce is not penetrating. I say all five referendums pass.
Phil: OK, how about a couple wild cards? I say Thom Tillis retains his U.S. Senate seat, on the coattails of Trump winning North Carolina.
Ethan: Nope. Neither Trump nor Tillis win North Carolina. My wild card is Lindsey Graham losing his seat in South Carolina, after which he and McConnell will live happily ever after on that Death Star.
Phil: And just to be clear, I like fresh clams in my chowder, not canned.
Ethan: And I like my bagel untoasted, with a side of lox.