A new poll released Tuesday by Mike Michaud’s campaign for governor shows the Democrat with a 4-point lead over incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage, with independent Eliot Cutler in a distant third place.
The poll, conducted March 3-6 by Normington, Petts & Associates, a firm with a long history of polling for Democrats, surveyed 800 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent. Including so-called “leaners,” the results show 39 percent support for Michaud, 35 percent for LePage and 16 percent for Cutler. Democrats said the poll confirms what several previous polls have shown: that Michaud is leading the race by a slim margin with almost eight months left before the election.
“Poll after poll confirms that this is a tight race between Congressman Michaud and Gov. LePage with Congressman Michaud as the clear frontrunner,” said Matt McTighe, Michaud’s campaign manager, in a prepared statement. “Voters trust Mike and know he is the only candidate in the race with a proven track record of bringing Democrats, Republicans and independents together to do what’s best for all Maine people.”
Brent Littlefield, who is LePage’s senior political consultant, dismissed the release of the poll numbers Tuesday as an effort to boost Michaud’s fund raising.
“Every time Michael Michaud feels a need for help in begging for more campaign money, he trots out another poll seeking to calm his potential Democratic donors,” wrote Littlefield in response to question from the BDN. “If someone wants to believe these polls, I have a bridge in Bangor to sell them.”
Littlefield declined to answer questions about whether he disputes the poll numbers or whether he has any data that indicates anything different.
Ted O’Meara, Cutler’s campaign manager, also dismissed the poll results as biased.
“Another poll by a Democratic pollster for a Democratic candidate showing the Democrat in the lead. We’re not surprised or disheartened,” said O’Meara in a prepared statement. “By every measure Eliot is far ahead of where he was four years ago and the response he is getting from Republicans, Democrats and independents as he travels throughout Maine is overwhelmingly positive. It doesn’t matter what polls say in March; all that matters is what voters do in November.”
A list of “selected survey responses and demographics” released by Normington Petts show that 34 percent of the polls respondents identified themselves as Democrats, 32 percent Republican and 34 percent independent. The breakdown between males and females was 50/50 and 55 percent said they were between 40 and 64 years old.
Michaud also scored ahead of LePage and Cutler on a series of questions who “has the right experience to be governor,” who “cares about people like you,” who “understands the problems facing the middle class,” and who “understands how state government works.” On the question of who has the “best chance of beating Paul LePage,” Michaud was identified by 69 percent of respondents, compared with 18 percent who chose Cutler.
Lizzy Reinholt, Michaud’s campaign spokeswoman, said the campaign commissioned the poll and chose to release it now to show that support for Michaud is rising.
“There hasn’t been a public poll release in a while and this lets folks know the status of the race,” she said. “We are continuing to see a lot of support for Mike from across Maine.”
Reinholt declined to release the full poll results to the BDN because, she said, some of the questions tested messaging that could be used in the campaign.