New Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram Poll: As Nov. 4 approaches, race for Gov. tightens

A new poll commissioned by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram shows that the gubernatorial race has tightened between Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage, with Independent Eliot Cutler still behind.

The University of New Hampshire Survey Center conducted the poll by surveying 482 likely voters over the phone from Sept. 18 to 25. The majority of respondents (72 percents) said they plan to vote in the election. The results show Michaud leading LePage by two points—40 percent to 38 percent, respectively—and Cutler coming in at 12 percent. Michaud’s two-point lead is not statistically significant, however with about a month left to go until Election Day, it shows how the race towards the Blaine House has tightened between the Democratic and Republican candidates.

When asked who they think will win the race, poll respondents showed Michaud is virtually tied with LePage at 38 and 37 percent, respectively. This was a big shift from a similar poll taken in June, in which 43 percent of respondents thought Michaud would win, compared to 31 percent for LePage and 7 percent for Cutler. According to polling experts, voters’ opinions about who will win can be a better metric for predicting the final outcome than their actual voting preferences. This is especially true for a three-way race like this, where undecided anti-LePage voters may vote for whichever non-Republican candidate they perceive as having the best chance of winning.

Voters are still wondering what effect Cutler will have on the final outcome of the election. While few think he can win, some say they will vote for him based on principle. According to an interview with University of New Hampshire Survey Center Director Andrew Smith, “A wasted vote may be somebody’s important ideological statement.” Cutler finished second to LePage in the 2010 election. An expanded explanation of the poll results can be found in the Portland Press Herald (Sept. 29).

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