Maine Election-Day Penny Poll
Federal Expenditure Preferences

Held among registered voters at polling places in 11 communities on Election Day, 2011
Sponsored by the Maine Bring Our War $$ Home Campaign

  1. About the Poll
  2. Results
    1. Results by Town
    2. Results by Category
  3. Data
    1. Penny count
    2. Percentage table
  4. Coverage
    1. State Press Release
    2. State Op-Ed
    3. Mount Desert Islander Guest Column

About The Poll

How it was done -- Voters exiting the polls were encouraged to take 10 pennies that were offered to them and distribute them among 10 jars labeled with ten categories of federal discretionary spending in porportion to the way they would prefer to see their tax dollars spent. (Note: "discretionary" spending excludes insurance programs such as Social Security and Medicare, and payment on the principal of the national debt.)

The Categories -- The categories and examples with which the jars were labelled were as follows (click to see the results by town for the given category):

Defense     Afghanistan/Iraq Wars, Weapons systems, Homeland Security,
Armed forces personnel (except Vet benefits)
Education Public/higher education, Head Start, Job training
Environment / Science Energy, Environmental protection, Interior/parks, Space exploration
Food / Agriculture School lunches, Farm Subsidies, Nutrition Programs, Food Stamps
General Government Congress/Whitehouse, Judicial/Courts, Foreign Aid, Postal Service
Health Care Medicaid, Research, Public/Consumer Health
Housing / Urban Development Affordable Housing, Shelters, Community Development
Interest on National Debt Annual interest owed (not payment on principal)
Transportation Rail/highway, Airlines, Shipping
Veterans Benefits VA hospitals & healthcare, Housing, Education/training benefits

The examples provided for these categories were mutually exclusive in the eyes of people of various ideological or political views. For instance, people who like the idea of food stamps might not appreciate subsidies of large-scale agribusiness, while people who think environmental protection is important might not approve of space exploration. Having to make decisions based on the categories as presented made the job of deciding more difficult than some expected, but it mirrored the problem members of Congress have when a favorite bill gets watered down or loaded with unwanted riders.

The Towns -- The original dry run of the poll run in the summer aimed at (and succeeded in) getting at least one town in each county. The towns for the Election Day poll were selected by a very important criterion -- towns where volunteers were available (click a town to see its results):

Federal Expenditure Preferences of the Maine Voters Polled

Percentages, with number of participants
(See also By Category)
Click on graph for printable PDF

Belfast federal expenditure preferences
Belgrade federal expenditure preferences
Bowdoinham federal expenditure preferences
Lewiston federal expenditure preferences
Monroe federal expenditure preferences
Old Town
Old Town federal expenditure preferences
Orland federal expenditure preferences
Portland federal expenditure preferences
Skowhegan federal expenditure preferences
Southwest Harbor
Southwest Harbor federal expenditure preferences
Wilton federal expenditure preferences

(See also By Town)
Click on graph for printable PDF

Defense spending preference by town
Education spending preference by town
Environment / Science
Environment / Science spending preference by town
Food / Agriculture
Food / Agriculture spending preference by town
General Government
General Government spending preference by town
Health Care
Health Care spending preference by town
Housing / Urban Development
Housing / Urban Development spending preference by town
Interest on Natioinal Debt
Interest on Natioinal Debt spending preference by town
Transportation spending preference by town
Veterans Benefits
Veterans Benefits spending preference by town

(see also the data/graph spreadsheet)


Penny count by down


 State  Belfast  Belgrade  Bowdoinham  Lewiston  Monroe  Old Town  Orland  Portland  Skowhegan  SW Harbor  Wilton
Defense6.   Defense
Education19.518.816.418.419.119.524.521.019.616.516.818.2   Education
Environ/Science9.313.712.512.18.410.58.89.413.   Environ/Science
Food/Agric9.811.48.910.78.912.   Food/Agric
General Govt2.   General Govt
Health Care17.519.816.614.422.313.516.918.921.316.316.617.3   Health Care
Housing/UrbDev6.   Housing/UrbDev
Debt Interest7.   Debt Interest 
Transportation7.710.   Transportation
Vets Benefits13.27.311.711.211.414.411.816.76.615.915.515.6   Vets Benefits
Total   100.0100.0100.0100.0100.0100.0100.0100.0100.0100.0100.0100.0   Total
Voters20749353135190109447108100213295331   Voters
 State  Belfast  Belgrade  Bowdoinham  Lewiston  Monroe  Old Town  Orland  Portland  Skowhegan  SW Harbor  Wilton

Last updated: 24 November 2011