In new poll, Pan Atlantic used wrong wording for Question 1, retracts results

Poll results released today by Pan Atlantic SMS has been retracted due to inaccurate wording of Question 1.

The poll asked: “Do you want to make it a crime to hunt bears with bait, traps or dogs, except to protect property, public safety, or for research?”

Instead, the final Question 1 wording, which will appear on the Nov. 4 Maine ballot is as follows: “Do you want to ban the use of bait, dogs or traps in bear hunting except to protect property, public safety, or for research?”

“When we did our last poll, the wording [of Question 1] hadn’t been finalized,” said Patrick Murphy, president of Pan Atlantic SMS Group. “So the error was because one of the folks here just reinserted the previous wording.”

“The recent poll used the wrong ballot question language, not what the voters will see on election day and therefore the results are not representative of the strong support for a Yes vote on Question 1,” said Katie Hansberry, director for the YES on 1 campaign. “We can feel the momentum and believe Maine voters want to ban the cruel and unsporting practices of bear baiting, hounding, and trapping.”

Wording is everything, so Pan Atlantic SMS Group will not be posting the results of the poll on their website. However, the group did send the poll to media outlets Tuesday morning, before the error was discovered.

The poll found that there is a 9 percentage point margin between those voting “no” and “yes.”

  • 47.8 percent voted “no”
  • 37.1 percent voted “yes”
  • 4.6 percent were undecided but leaning toward “yes”
  • 3.1 percent were undecided but leaning toward “no”
  • and 7.3 percent were undecided and refused to say which way they were leaning.

“This [poll] seemed like a bit of an anomaly,” said James Cote, manager for the NO on 1 campaign. “Every poll we’ve seen shows us in the teens to low 20s as far as having a lead, and this one is a little tighter.”

Cote said the poll “doesn’t seem very trustworthy” because of the 9 percent margin of error and the fact that “only 400 people” were polled.

“For every poll, we [the NO on 1 campaign] do at least 800 calls,” Cote said.

Murphy said they will not be conducting another poll on Question 1 before Election Day.

Earlier this month, the Portland Press Herald made the same wording mistake as Pan Atlantic in the third poll they conducted for the general election. PPH used the word “crime,” which will not be used in Question 1 in November. You can view the incorrect wording on page 20 of the poll at www.documentcloud.org/documents/1346517-portland-press-herald-poll-oct-26-2014.html#document/p1.

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.