PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Democratic President Barack Obama on Tuesday turned back a challenge by Republican Mitt Romney in Maine, winning all four of the state’s electoral votes.
Even though a Republican hasn’t won in Maine in more than 20 years, Romney had hoped to win at least one of the state’s electoral votes in northern Maine.
Maine is one of two states that split its electoral votes, allocating them in part by congressional district. But Obama won both the 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts on Tuesday.
Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant said voters gave Obama the sixth consecutive victory by a Democratic presidential candidate in the state because they wanted him to complete what he started.
‘‘He had to clean up a huge mess, and he’s done a great job getting part of that done,’’ Grant said Tuesday evening. ‘‘He deserves another four years to finish the job.’’
Roughly eight in 10 Maine voters characterized the U.S. economy as not so good or poor, and voters said Obama would handle the economy better than Romney by a slight margin, according to preliminary results of exit polls conducted for The Associated Press by Edison Research.
Portland voter Pat Proulx-Lough, a clinical counselor supervisor in the state department of correction, said she voted for Obama because she felt that he’s in touch with the needs of regular people.
‘‘Most of the people I work with worry about whether they have enough gas to get to work, or money to heat their homes,’’ she said. ‘‘They’re choosing whether to take their medicine or eat, or turn on the heat, or pay the rent. People are being evicted. There’s a lot going on. There’s a lot to be concerned about.’’
The scenario of Maine dividing its electoral votes has long intrigued political observers but has never happened since the system was put in place in 1969. The state allocates two votes to the statewide winner and one to the winner of each of the state’s congressional districts.
Maine last voted for a Republican when George H.W. Bush won in 1988. Four years later, Democrat Bill Clinton carried Maine and Bush came in third behind independent Ross Perot.
Nonetheless, Republicans have eyed the state’s sprawling 2nd Congressional District in the past two elections as a source of at least one potential electoral vote.
Two super political action committees — Restore Our Future and American Crossroads — pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into Maine for television ads in hopes of bolstering Romney’s chances.
One of the Crossroads-sponsored ads featured ‘‘Dirty Harry’’ actor Clint Eastwood telling viewers that Romney is the man who can turn the country around, and another criticized Obama over his policies on China. The Restore-sponsored ads targeted Obama over the nation’s unemployment rate, falling incomes and high government debt.
Democrats said the 11th-hour spending was an act of desperation, but pre-election polls showed a tighter race in the district, which includes northern and eastern Maine.
In the end, about eight in 10 voters said they made up their minds about a presidential candidate before October, according to exit polls.