What’s in a poll?

A recent poll conducted by Critical Insights of Portland was good news for Gov. Paul LePage. From the spring to the fall, his approval rating jumped from 31 percent to 47 percent.

LePage supporters said the numbers are indicative of support for the governor’s pro-business initiatives. Critics said LePage’s numbers are high at the moment because he hasn’t done or said anything controversial in recent weeks.

But, how seriously should those numbers be taken?

Consider this:

Critical Insights conducted a poll last fall prior to the November election that saw LePage take the Blaine House and saw incumbent U.S. House members Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, both Democrats, hold off Republican challengers.

The firm’s polling data last year did not seem to match election results.

A poll released Oct. 28, 2010 had Dean Scontras holding a four-point lead over Pingree. Pingree ended up winning 57-43.

That same poll showed Michaud with a four-point lead over Jason Levesque. Michaud ended up winning 55-45.

On the governor’s race, Critical Insights’ Oct. 28 poll had LePage with a commanding lead over Democrat Libby Mitchell, but the poll did not indicate strong support for Independent Eliot Cutler, who overtook Mitchell considerably near the end and nearly leaped LePage on Election Day.