How is a vote for Cutler rational?

Cynthia: Mike, “rational choice theory” applied to politics suggests that self-interested voters will do a cost-benefit analysis in the voting booth and base their choice on which candidate will maximize their personal gain and minimize their loss if elected.

Given the polls to date and a recent muddled press conference, how does a Cutler supporter rationalize his or her vote on Nov. 4?

Mike: No rationalization necessary! There is this myth within the “61%” sticker community that the vast majority of voters want ABL — anyone but LePage. It simply isn’t true; see the recent Press Herald poll showing the governor beating Mike head-to-head.

Eliot’s supporters are voting for him because they want Eliot to be governor, thus “maximizing their gain.” I agree that some do not want Paul LePage, but they don’t want Mike Michaud either! If Eliot had dropped out, you’d probably see a statistically significant number of blank ballots or “Mickey Mouse” write-ins. Or maybe “Jim Longley” — can we bring him back?

Cynthia: The odds of Eliot Cutler winning the election are about as good as our bringing Jim Longley back from the dead. And the poll you cite is obviously a statistical outlier: the undisputed trend shows Michaud and LePage in a dead heat, with Cutler far behind.

There’s only two possible reasons a Cutler supporter would “vote his dreams” at this point. Either he can afford four more years of a LePage administration, or he’s under the spell of “irrational exuberance.” There are people, after all, who will spend $845,000 for a Porsche plug-in hybrid to “save money” on gas. They might vote for Cutler. And of course some people believe in magic.

But let’s assume the Cutler camp sticks to its guns and votes with their hearts and not their minds. When Gov. LePage is then re-elected with 43 percent of the vote as you predicted last week, what is his mandate? Are we in for four more years of the same?

Mike: Cutler’s camp doesn’t like sticking with guns — that is an area of overlap with Mike.

Anyway, the governor’s mandate begins with him “cooling down,” which even a Frenchman can do. I’ve pointed it out before, but most Mainers agree with the governor’s policy goals; they just don’t like his style.

We’ll see significant policy advancement in three areas. First, energy, especially with two or three new Republican governors in New England — we won’t have the Deval Patrick hokey-pokey where he’s in, then out, then in, et cetera. Second, welfare reform coupled with job training and placement programs. And third, I believe we may finally have a chance for real tax reform.

The real question is: will Democratic legislators be willing to work with a second LePage administration? The 125th Democrats were, while the 126th Democrats were not. What does the 127th hold?

Cynthia: Mike, the chances of Paul LePage “cooling down” are even less than a Cutler victory or successful seance! So let’s imagine four more years of energy policy LePage-style. Can it get any better than scaring off a $120 million deal with a Norwegian company booked to build offshore wind turbines, or paying Cate Street Capital “investors” millions to test a few wood coal recipes?

And bird-dogging the poor while DHHS frits aways millions at Riverview, shreds public documents at the CDC and pays ridiculous “consultants” to plagiarize reports about welfare reform is brilliant, too — topped only by the Department of Health and Human Services “training” people. Training them to do what? Take phone calls from frantic disabled folks waiting for a ride to the doctor?

If Paul LePage is re-elected, I do agree we need people in Augusta willing to tip-toe around and not make Him mad. In fact, if He returns to the Blaine House, we need a 127th Legislature chock full of enablers. And who knows? Maybe codependency is the key to tax reform.

Mike: So, subsidizing foreign windmill companies with millions of dollars from ratepayers to the exclusion of UMaine would have been good, but subsidizing experimental Maine torrefied wood companies is bad? Just want to make sure I’m following the dizzying logic!

But whether you call it “codependency” or bipartisanship, that is where many reforms need to begin. “Good” bipartisanship is when all sides make real structural reforms that have positives and negatives from both points of view. “Bad” bipartisanship is when bills turn into Christmas trees, with junk hanging off of them to buy votes from all sides, stiffing the taxpayers.

Unfortunately, “good” bipartisanship has been mostly jettisoned. See the attacks on Republicans for “tax cuts for the rich,” which Democrats voted for, which Emily Cain hated. But now she really likes them. This isn’t helping the dizzyness. Are we at the point where everything is merely campaign fodder, with good policy out the window?

Cynthia: We are at the point, my friend, when good citizens must take a hit or two of smelling salts and march into the voting booth. The time is now to make a rational choice of re-electing Paul LePage, or electing Mike Michaud, governor of the state of Maine.