Three polls find no consensus in governor’s race

The candidates for governor in 2014: Democrat and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage, and independent businessman Eliot Cutler. BDN file photos.

The candidates for governor in 2014: Democrat and U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage, and independent businessman Eliot Cutler. BDN file photos.

The big news over the weekend came courtesy of — you guessed it — a poll about the gubernatorial race.

Chris Cousins had you covered yesterday, so I won’t go into the detail (you should really just read his post, here), but the TL;DR is this: In a new poll by the Portland Press Herald/University of New Hampshire, Republican Gov. Paul LePage had a 10-point lead over his Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, 45-35. independent candidate Eliot Cutler lagged 19 points behind the Democrat.

That result would represent a huge shift in the race, but the picture was blurred a bit today, when the results of a new YouGov survey conducted for CBS/New York Times, were released.

YouGov showed Michaud at 37 percent, a 2-point lead over LePage at 35. Cutler was even further behind than most polls have shown, back at 7 percent. (YouGov’s poll was conducted Oct. 16-23, meaning it was in the field two days later than the PPH/UNH survey; its sample included 1,117 likely voters; its margin of error is 5 percent.)

So, what’s going on here?

While the survey results listed above include “leaners” — those who say they’re leaning toward a particular candidate but still aren’t certain which way they’ll vote — it doesn’t seem YouGov pushed very hard on respondents to make them lean.

Often, respondents to polls will initially tell the pollster that they don’t know who they’ll vote for but, with a little prodding, they’ll say which way they’re leaning. But more than one-fifth of YouGov’s respondents were listed as “not sure,” a much higher number than other polls. 

The low number of voters who don’t know who they’ll vote for is considered by many insiders a hallmark of this election. The PPH/UNH poll had just 4 percent undecided. An earlier poll, conducted online Oct. 6-12 for the BDN by Ipsos, had 5 percent undecided (That poll, for what it’s worth, showed Michaud ahead of LePage by 6 points).

Other surveys have had similar results. Public Policy Polling, in a survey conducted Oct. 22 and 23 — making it the most recent poll in the field — split the difference between the PPH and BDN results. It showed LePage and Michaud neck-and-neck at 40 percent, with Cutler pulling 17 percent. There, undecideds only made up 3 percent of respondents.

It appears YouGov had room for respondents to “lean” toward the Democratic or Republican candidate, but not toward the independent (see below). If I’m Cutler, I’m assuming that a lot of those “not sure” voters lean my direction.

YouGovWith only eight days left until the election, you can expect more poll results to be made public. Pan Atlantic SMS is expected to drop their latest survey results tomorrow, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see even more this week as well.

7 stories you need to read

  • Hillary Clinton became the latest — but not the last — big-name Democrat to stump for Michaud in an effort to boost Michaud during a tough midterm election year that favors Republicans. Here’s the story.
  • While Michaud sought the Clinton Bump, LePage earned a few big endorsements of his own: First, from former president George H.W. Bush, and then from Maine students in this year’s mock election. Bush is nice and all, but note that the mock election has accurately predicted the gubernatorial winner for more than two decades.
  • My colleague Nell Gluckman has been your eyes and ears on the campaign in the 2nd Congressional District for months. Make sure to check out her profile on the race as it stands today: A stark choice between two candidates who both veer from the district’s tradition of moderate centrism. (BONUS: Here’s Nell’s coverage of the CBS 13/BDN’s 2nd CD debate.)
  • Of the seven referendums on the ballot this year, none has drawn more attention than Question 1, which asks voters whether the state should ban the us of bait, dogs and traps in Maine’s bear hunt. The question has drawn more than $1.6 million in advertising dollars, reports our Aislinn Sarnacki.
  • The state’s failure to live up to its promise to cover 55 percent of local education costs was a major talking point during this month’s gubernatorial debates, with both Michaud and Cutler pledging to right the ship. But history shows that both are unlikely to succeed. Here’s why.
  • As Election Day draws nearer and nearer, expect the long knives to come out between Cutler and Michaud. The independent, who lags badly in the polls, has called on Michaud to “release” his supporters. The Democrats say Cutler is the only thing keeping LePage’s candidacy alive.
  • Susan Collins, Maine’s GOP senior U.S. senator, remains popular as ever in the face of a strong challenge by Democrat Shenna Bellows. While most see the contest as a foregone conclusion, that has presented a strong debate of the issue. Chris Cousins had this take on a recent debate.




Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.