Maine is a rare presidential battleground where the winner doesn't necessarily take all.
Unlike most states, which award every electorate vote to the candidate who wins the statewide popular vote, Maine gives two to the overall winner and one to the victor in each of its two congressional districts.
Strategists with both campaigns say Sen. John Kerry (search) holds the edge in Maine overall and in the state's southern congressional district. The northern district is the most competitive.
Democrat Al Gore (search) won the state with 44 percent in 2000, gaining all four electoral votes, with independent Ralph Nader (search) taking nearly 6 percent of the vote. Democrats lost their bid to keep Nader off the ticket this year, a development that could help President Bush.
Polls in September showed Nader's support at 3 or 4 percentage points, and analysts believe most of his backing comes from potential Kerry voters.
Bush and Kerry are saturating Maine's airwaves with television ads, although Kerry and his party are on twice as heavily as Bush and the GOP.
BY THE NUMBERS:
16 — Years since Maine voted for a Republican for president.
101,470 — Vacation homes, 15.6 percent of all homes in the state that calls itself "Vacationland."
17 million — Acres of forest.
29,000 — Number of moose.
— "He has been in the Senate for 20 years and he's done nothing. He's made promises and he hasn't followed through. Why would that change now?" — Barbara Stevenson, a commercial fishing boat owner from Portland, who also said, "The only thing that's worse than Bush is Kerry."
— "I don't like this war at all. I thought it was kind of a rush to get into it. It just makes me sad every time I hear of some young ones getting killed, 21, 22 years old." — Walter Mattson, a Korean War veteran from Stockholm who is leaning toward Kerry.
Turnout of 67.3 percent of the voting age population in the last presidential election was second only to Minnesota's 68.8 percent.
Democrats fought to the state Supreme Judicial Court but failed to keep Ralph Nader off the ballot. Democrats fear Nader, who won 5.7 percent here four years ago, will siphon votes from Kerry. Independents are the largest voting bloc in the state.
WHAT TO WATCH ON ELECTION NIGHT:
People drawn to the polls for referendums to cap taxes or end bear baiting could affect the election in unpredictable ways. The focus will be on the conservative 2nd Congressional District, where turnout by hunters who generally support Bush could help the president. Maine could split its four electoral votes, so Bush could win one vote in the 2nd district even if he loses statewide.
IN MAINE FOUR YEARS AGO:
Democrat Al Gore won, 49 percent to 44 percent. A Portland lawyer was blamed for leaking records of Bush's 1976 drunken-driving arrest in Kennebunkport less than a week before the election, but political scientists said the news probably didn't affect the outcome.