BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Newly released campaign finance numbers show record-breaking spending in the race for Maine's 2nd Congressional District, where Democratic challenger Emily Cain is looking to unseat Republican incumbent Rep. Bruce Poliquin.
With three weeks left before Election Day, spending by the campaigns and outside groups has hit $11 million.
It's hard to watch TV and not see ads for Cain and Rep. Poliquin, either by the candidates own campaigns or by outside groups trying to influence the outcome of the second district election.
According to recently released campaign finance reports, Poliquin's campaign has raised more than $3.1 million compared to about $2.8 million for Cain. Although Cain did out-raise Poliquin this quarter. in total, their campaigns have raised about $5.9 million. More than $5 million has poured into the district by outside groups.
University of Maine political science professor Amy Fried said there's a number of reasons why Maine's 2nd District is so competitive. Its makeup is pretty evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, and its voting has reflected that.
"It's a centrist district. The district did vote for LePage in 2014," she said. "I believe it also voted against marriage equality in 2012."
"It has been a Democratic district on the presidential level for a number of years," she said, adding that the Poliquin-Cain race could certainly play a role in the presidential race.
I think it's certainly connected to the presidential race and the Clinton campaign has said its starting to spend in the 2nd District," she said. "It's also starting to spend in the 2nd District of Nebraska, and these are the only two states where the electoral votes can be split by district."
Bangor attorney Tim Woodcock, a former staffer for Sen. Bill Cohen, agrees the split electoral vote may be bringing money to the 2nd District. He also believes that Republicans may feel that the districts loss of manufacturing jobs and mill closings may give them a foothold.
"I think that there are a lot of elements in the district at this point that might encourage some to think it would go red," he said.
The more heavily-Democratic 1st Congressional District race is being eclipsed on the spending front. Democratic incumbent Rep. Chellie Pingree has raised about $560,000, her Republican challenger Mark Holbrook raised about $83,000.