The latest poll regarding Maine’s gubernatorial race shows the Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, with a small but statistically irrelevant advantage over incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage, and independent candidate Eliot Cutler trailing far behind.
The latest survey, commissioned by the Portland Press Herald and conducted Sept. 18-25 by pollsters at the University of New Hampshire, shows Michaud polling at 40 percent to LePage’s 38 percent. Cutler drew the support of 12 percent of respondents, and 10 percent were undecided.
Even including those who said they are “leaning” toward a particular candidate, Michaud retains the same margin over LePage, 41 to 39. The two-point margin in both scenarios is well within the poll’s 4.4 percent margin of error.
Do the preceding paragraphs sound familiar? Because by now they should. The basic shape of the race — Michaud with a small advantage, within the margin of error — hasn’t really changed since June.
Those of you who follow polling will likely have seen something in the past few years about the superior track record of “expectation” versus “preference” in predicting the outcome of elections. Basically, when a pollster asks respondents who they expect will win an election, rather than who the respondents support, the poll yields results that more accurately predict the outcome.
The idea here, according to researchers David Rothschild and Justin Wolfers, is that by asking someone what they expect an outcome to be, you’re drawing on a larger pool of information. The respondent is forced to consider not only their own preference, but to assess the preferences of everyone they know, as well as media coverage, debate performance, and campaign narrative. Rothschild and Wolfers said asking about the respondent’s expectations was like “turbocharging the sample size.”
Anyway: The PPH/UNH poll showed something interesting: Even though more respondents said they supported Michaud than LePage, the “expectation” number was flipped: 38 percent said they thought LePage would win, and 37 percent predicted a Michaud victory. Just 5 percent though Cutler would be the state’s next governor.
Back in June, when PPH/UNH conducted its first poll, 43 percent said they believed Michaud would win, compared to 31 percent for LePage and 7 percent for Cutler.
That’s a big shift in the public’s perception about the shape of this race; Even though only about the same number of people say they plan on voting for LePage, far more are predicting that he’ll be the eventual winner.
7 stories you need to read
- Gov. Paul LePage will participate in five previously scheduled gubernatorial debates. In case you’ve not been paying attention, the governor’s attendance was in question for the last couple weeks.
- Given all the elections coming up in November, it’s easy to forget Mainers will also decide on several bond questions. Darren “Charts” Fishell, our intrepid biz reporter, has this breakdown of Question 3, a $12 million bond for business innovation, downtown development and the rural economy.
- LePage made a brief appearance with GOP women in Scarborough last week in an effort to court women voters, who in public polls so far are more likely to support Michaud. .
- The owners of a private road in Wiscasset are asking to change its name from “Redskins Drive” to “MicMac Drive” after the original name drew broad criticism from Native American groups and others.
- U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was in Portland last week to raise money for Bruce Poliquin, the GOP’s candidate in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. I wish I could tell you more than that, but Boehner did no interviews with local press, and the fundraiser in Portland was so closed-door that not even the Republican’s 1st District candidate was invited.
- Lawmakers on the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee have ordered a thorough investigation into the state’s troubled Riverview Psychiatric Center.
- Democrats on the Legislature’s Education Committee rejected LePage’s nomination of a former conservative blogger Susan Dench for placement on the University of Maine System board of trustees, citing concerns over her views on gender and new allegations of plagiarism.