Hoodo Mohamed looks through a rack of clothing while helping a customer Eid shopping at the Al Madina Store in Lewiston, Maine, Friday, April 29, 2022, owned by her mother. Credit: Andree Kehn / AP

Androscoggin is the Maine county coming closest to matching the demographic and political shifts of a changing U.S., the polling firm Echelon Insights found.

It highlights the relative diversity and youth in Maine’s second-largest city of Lewiston and its twin city of Auburn. Both are distinct in the nation’s whitest state and the one with the highest median age, while the area’s status as a swing electoral bloc has long been recognized in state politics and has continued during the last several elections.

Androscoggin was named the 255th “most typical” county out of just over 3,000 in the U.S. by Echelon Insights on Tuesday. The firm used the 2020 presidential election margin and demographic data on race, education, income, religion and other topics to score counties on how closely they matched the national median.

The reasons for this go to the region’s rich history. The Lewiston area has been known as a political swing area for decades, due largely in part to a large Franco-American population and a Republican-led move in 1972 to eliminate “big box” voting, which allowed people to automatically vote for every party candidate at once.

The city remains heavily Democratic by party registration. Many Republicans have won there, notably former Gov. Paul LePage, who was born in the city. Since the early 2000s, the Lewiston area has been changed by thousands of immigrants from Somalia and other African countries. The rest of Androscoggin County remains rural and conservative.

Trump won the county by less than 3 percentage points in 2020 over President Joe Biden, who won Maine overall. Biden lost in the more conservative 2nd Congressional District, which is represented by Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat from Lewiston.

Androscoggin stands out in Maine, where it has the largest non-white population of any county at 13.1 percent, according to 2020 census data. Nearly 21 percent of its population is below age 18, which is the highest mark in the state, close to the national average of 22 percent.

York was second most at 334th and Sagadahoc was close behind at 337th. Aroostook was the least typical county in Maine at 2,288th in part because of a swing toward Trump in the 2020 election and an aging population.

The most representative counties in New England were ones in greater Boston with significant suburbs and Hispanic populations. Providence County, Rhode Island, ranked 10th-most typical in the nation, followed by the adjacent Massachusetts counties of Bristol at 24th and Worcester at 37th.

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...