Mainers are facing a historic congressional election season.
In November, voters will decide whether to keep Sen. Susan Collins — the only Republican representing a New England state in Congress — in the office she has held since 1997. Record-breaking sums of money are pouring into the race from across the country, attempting to sway voters.
Mainers in the 2nd Congressional District will also weigh in on whether first-term Rep. Jared Golden’s moderate voice in the Democratic caucus — following a narrow victory over his Republican predecessor — has adequately suited the split district’s needs.
Leading up to both the primary and the general election, campaign contributions help illuminate the forces acting for and against each candidate.
Follow the money influencing Maine’s congressional races using the interactive dashboards below.
The dashboards bring together data from the Federal Elections Commission covering direct campaign contributions, outside spending and party-coordinated spending. The dashboards aim to provide a broader look at money spent to influence a specific race, beyond just campaign coffers.
How to use these tools
Maine’s Senate race is the focus of national attention, as Democrats seek to flip the seat held by Collins. The Democratic establishment has lined up behind Maine’s Speaker of the House, Sara Gideon of Freeport, who faces a handful of primary challengers. Several unenrolled candidates are also vying for the seat.
The national attention on this contest has helped it break spending records, with the campaigns themselves building substantial war chests and outside groups already pouring in more than $9.2 million as of early June.
Golden narrowly wrested Maine’s 2nd Congressional District from Republican Bruce Poliquin two years ago, with ranked-choice voting determining his win. The race was the first in the country that used the ranked-choice method to elect a federal representative.
The result did two things: it showed how competitive this historically blue district has become and, following Poliquin’s unsuccessful legal challenge of the outcome, it solidified ranked-choice voting’s future for Maine elections to federal office.
Republicans had a competitive three-way primary between Adrienne Bennett, former Gov. Paul LePage’s press secretary; Eric Brakey, a libertarian and former state senator from Auburn; and Dale Crafts, a Lisbon Falls businessman. Crafts won the primary to challenge Golden, the Democratic incumbent.
Longtime Democratic incumbent Chellie Pingree is up for re-election again in the 1st Congressional District, running against Republican Jay Allen. The district is a safe one for Democrats and, as a result, the race has attracted far less spending and attention. The only outside spending as of early June was $10 from the Sierra Club, supporting Pingree.
A note on the data
The data is updated nightly from the FEC. This far out from the election, individual or campaign contributions are updated relatively infrequently, however. Independent and party-coordinated expenditures may reflect new data every day.
There are two easy ways to see the underlying data:
- Visit this Google Sheet, which is updated nightly.
- Use the “download” button at the bottom of the Tableau visualizations above (if the data or crosstab options are grayed out, click on the title of the visualization for which you want raw data before hitting the download button).
For a deeper dive into the data, the complete raw tables queried from the FEC site are hosted in this project at data.world. Accessing that resource requires setting up a free data.world account.
That project also contains the query that generates the Google Sheets data source.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated on June 25, 2020 with a video tutorial to help people use these interactive graphics.