New poll shows solid leads for Poliquin, Trump in Maine’s 2nd District

Good morning from Augusta, where there are new Maine-centric poll numbers to peruse thanks to the University of New Hampshire Survey Center and the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.

In the presidential race, which is on everyone’s mind today with the first 90-minute debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump scheduled for tonight, the poll confirmed a trend that has been emerging in recent weeks: Trump is crushing Clinton in the 2nd Congressional District, 48 percent to 34 percent.

Support is reversed in the 1st Congressional District, where 50 percent of respondents favor Clinton, compared with 28 percent for Trump and 14 percent supporting other candidates. Clinton leads Trump statewide by 4 points. Libertarian Gary Johnson attracted 12 percent support and the Green Party’s Jill Stein amassed 3 percent support.

As has been reported over and over again, that means this could be first-ever presidential election in which Maine splits its electoral votes. According to these results, Clinton would take two electoral votes for winning Maine overall and one vote for winning the 1st District. Trump would secure the 2nd District’s one electoral vote.

However, Trump’s emerging dominance in the 2nd District, coupled with the relatively strong showing by Johnson, appears to have narrowed the statewide race. If Trump does surge ahead of Clinton to win a majority of votes statewide, he would earn three Electoral College votes — and fulfill a prediction made earlier this month by his most vocal advocate in the state, Gov. Paul LePage.

In a national Bloomberg Politics poll on the presidential race that was released today, Trump and Clinton are neck-and-neck, each with 46 percent support among likely voters, according to The Hill. With third-party candidates included, Trump bests Clinton by 2 percentage points. The same poll found Clinton with a 6-point lead in August.

Here’s one more poll on the presidential race: Morning Consult has the national race at 38 percent Clinton, 39 percent Trump, 9 percent Johnson and 4 percent Stein.

In Maine’s most-closely-watched race, the rematch in the 2nd Congressional District between incumbent Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin and Democrat Emily Cain, there appears to be a significant advantage for Poliquin, whom the poll found ahead by 10 percentage points, 45 percent to 35 percent, with 15 percent undecided. The poll reflects responses by 231 likely voters in the 2nd District and has a margin or error of about 6 percent.

Here are some other results from the poll:

  • Incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree has towering support over Republican challenger Mark Holbrook in the 1st Congressional District. Pingree, currently in her fourth term, had 64 percent support among likely voters, compared with just 22 percent favoring Holbrook.
  • The legalization of recreational marijuana, which appears as Question 1 on the November ballot, found 53 percent support, driven by younger voters, particularly in southern and coastal areas, according to the Portland Press Herald. Only 38 percent said they were opposed to legalization, with 10 percent undecided.

Maine Today Media will continue to roll out results from its poll throughout the week. — Christopher Cousins

Quick hits

  • Maine is not good for teachers: A new study by the personal finance website WalletHub has found that Maine ranks very poorly as a place to work if you’re a public school teachers. WalletHub’s 2016 Best & Worst States for Teachers found Maine ranks 48th for average starting teacher salary, 49th for median annual teacher salary, 35th for teachers’ growth potential, 22nd in school safety and 46th for public school spending per student. I think our teachers need a bit of love right now, so here’s their soundtrack. (Turn it UP!)
  • An animated guy: Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap stars in two new animated videos that describe the process of registering to vote and of casting a ballot. Titled “Maine Voter Guide Part 1: Registering to Vote” and “Maine Voter Guide Part 2: Casting Your Ballot, are based on the State of Maine Voter Guide and posted on the state’s website.
  • Clean Power litigation: The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., will hear oral arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit brought against the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. A consortium of 27 states is challenging President Barack Obama’s plan for lower carbon emissions, which they argue will create an undue financial burden. Twenty-five states, cities and other government entities, including Maine, have filed motions in defense of the plan against legal challenges. Attorney General Janet Mills, who filed on Maine’s behalf, will gather with proponents of the plan at noon on Tuesday at Lincoln Park in Portland for a news conference to lay out her arguments in support of the call for stricter emissions controls. Proponents of the stricter controls have long argued that Maine — as the northeastern “tailpipe” of the United States –.suffers unfair environmental damage caused by pollutants produces in Rust Belt states that are borne by winds from the west, damaging our environment.
  • Binder reminder: Gov. Paul LePage’s office announced that it will make public the contents of a three-ring binder in which the governor stores clippings and other information about drug trafficking arrests in Maine. The information will be released in response to multiple Freedom of Access Act requests, including ones filed by the Bangor Daily News and Maine chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The binder was one of the major props in last month’s controversy involving statements LePage made about black and Hispanic people from other states coming to Maine to sell heroin and other deadly drugs. It drew national attention after LePage left a profanity-laden voice mail for Democratic Rep. Drew Gattine of Westbrook. In case anyone has forgotten that episode — which drew global attention and spurred another round of calls to remove LePage from office — the binder release today should refresh our memories.
  • Debate watch: Watch The Bangor Daily News this evening for comprehensive coverage of the presidential debate, which begins at 9 p.m. If you’d like to join the Bangor Daily News personally, our Portland and (part of our) political staff are hosting a debate watch party beginning at 8 p.m. at our bureau at Think Tank Coworking at 533 Congress St There will be free food and beverages of your choice, though you’ll have to provide the latter for yourself. It should be a good time, but let us know if you’re coming, will ya? — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

Stephen King’s zinger about Trump

Part of me thinks you don’t care what Stephen King thinks about politics but the BDN’s readership numbers say otherwise: Whenever the BDN posts an item about Maine’s most famous resident author — who is also one of Maine’s most outspoken Democrats — readers flock to it like vampires to a blood bank.

The latest story comes from The Washington Post. In it, King, 69, predictably unloads on Trump. The kicker is sort of clever. When the author asks King if he’ll write a book about a Trump presidency he said he already did: “The Dead Zone.” That’s King’s 1979 book about a man with a really, really, really, really, really bad head injury.

Weird. I’ve read a majority of King’s books and I thought either “Firestarter” or “It” was more appropriate, depending on which candidate you like. — Christopher Cousins


Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.