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Profile: Maine

RON FOURNIER

Associated Press

U.S. President George W. Bush and John Kerry could end up dividing Maine's four electoral votes.

Unlike most states, which have winner-take-all systems for their electoral votes, Maine gives two to the statewide winner and one to the victor in each of Maine's two congressional districts.

Mr. Kerry's advisers say their polls show the Democrat leading Mr. Bush statewide and in the state's southern congressional district. The northern district is the most competitive.

Mr. Bush's advisers say their boss is slightly ahead of Mr. Kerry statewide. Public polls show the race tight.

Democrat Al Gore won the state 49 per cent to 44 per cent in 2000, with independent Ralph Nader taking nearly 6 per cent of the vote. Democrats are suing in an effort to keep Mr. Nader off the ticket this year.

Maine is one of several states won by Mr. Gore that Mr. Bush has a chance to put into the GOP column Nov. 2. The biggest threats for Mr. Kerry are Wisconsin, Iowa and New Mexico, his advisers say. They are a bit less worried about Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Maine, but acknowledge that Mr. Bush is pressuring them.

Mr. Bush's family owns an oceanside estate in Kennebunkport, a Republican bastion.

The campaigns spent moderately on television commercials during spring and summer, with each spending about $1.5-million before Labour Day. In September, both sides increased their advertising as polls showed the race tightening.

BY THE NUMBERS:

4 -- Number of electoral votes, which can be split. Two go to the statewide winner, one to the winner of each of Maine's two congressional districts.

96.4 -- Percentage of white residents, highest in the nation.

57 million -- Pounds of lobster hauled in Maine waters in 2002.

89 percent -- Portion of Maine that is forested, nation's highest.

WHAT TO WATCH ON ELECTION NIGHT:

Independent Ralph Nader and Green candidate David Cobb could draw enough votes to sway a tight election. Democrats are suing in an effort to remove Nader from the ballot. Keep an eye on Maine's conservative 2nd Congressional District. If Bush wins the northern district, he would get one electoral vote even if Kerry wins the state. The state's electoral votes have never been split in the 35 years since the current system was enacted.

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IN MAINE FOUR YEARS AGO:

Gore beat Bush 49-44 percent even though Nader, on the ballot as the Green party nominee, took 5.7 percent of the vote. Gore's margin was smaller in the conservative 2nd District.

Gore had a slight advantage among independents, and big margins from women and middle-aged voters. Those who voted for Ross Perot in 1996 went 2-to-1 for Bush in 2000.

Associated Press writers David Sharp and Glenn Adams contributed to this report.

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