Democratic challenger Jared Golden prevailed Thursday in a Maine congressional contest, defeating a Republican incumbent in the first federal race in the country in which a ranked-choice voting system was used to determine the winner. After Election Day, Golden, a state representative, narrowly trailed Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) in a four-way race in which no candidate received 50 percent of the vote. The result flipped Thursday after the rules of the ranked-choice system were applied. The system allows voters to cast ballots for their candidate but also rank other contenders in order of preference. If no one wins more than 50 percent of the vote outright, those choices are factored in.
At noon Thursday, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap and his office powered up “instant runoff” software while streaming on Facebook Live to announce the results: Golden won with 50.5 percent of the vote to Poliquin’s 49.5 percent.
The result was the latest Republican-held congressional seat to flip Democratic. Overall, Democrats have won 38 seats that were previously held by Republicans. Democrats have won 230 seats to 198 for the GOP, with seven races undecided.
Poliquin unsuccessfully sought a temporary restraining order from a federal court Tuesday, seeking to stop the state from using the system.