Shenna Bellows, the Democratic challenger to Maine’s incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, is picking up traction, at least with Democrats. That’s the result of a recently conducted Public Policy Polling survey commissioned by the Bellows campaign and shown to the Bangor Daily News on Friday.
The poll, conducted four days after Bellows completed her 350-mile walking campaign from Houlton to Kittery, shows that overall, Bellows still trails Collins by 24 points. UPDATE: While I mentioned the spread on original posting, I forgot to include the overall topline. Collins leads Bellows 57-33.
But, it indicated that 64 percent of Democrat respondents said they planned on voting for her. That may not seem like a big deal, but it’s 20 points more than Bellows was polling with Democrats in a June poll commissioned by the Portland Press Herald/UNH, which showed bellows pulling in only about 44 percent of her own party.
Bellows seemingly got a big boost among Democrats as a result of her walk across Maine. 71 percent of Democrats polled said they’d heard about Bellows recently because of the walk, compared with 15 percent who saw a TV ad and 14 percent who chose “other.”
Growth among Democrats is undoubtedly a good thing for Bellows. If she’s going to pull off an upset victory of Collins — the most universally popular politician in the state and the favored winner by a long shot — she’ll definitely need her party’s support.
But she’ll also need to pull in a lot of unenrolled voters. The campaign didn’t release figures indicating how Bellows fared with nonpartisan voters, but that groups makes up 37 percent of all registered voters in the state, and the PPH/UNH poll had 81 percent of them going for Collins. That poll was conducted two months earlier though, so that figure may have changed, even if only slightly.
The PPP poll, conducted with pre-recorded questionnaires August 16-18, surveyed 679 likely Maine voters, among which were 258 Democrats. The survey was conducted via landline telephones across the state, and was weighted for age and gender. The margin of error for the poll was 3.8 percent; the margin of error among in th Democratic subset is 6.1 percent.