A poll commissioned by Republican candidate Bruce Poliquin reveals a tight race in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.
The survey, conducted by the GOP polling firm Public Opinion Strategies*, showed Poliquin trailing Democrat Emily Cain by four points, 37-33. That falls within the poll’s margin of error of 4.9 percent. Nearly one-quarter of those surveyed August 17-19 remained undecided, according to a memo from POS.
Cain’s campaign on Tuesday said the POS poll results were similar to others they’d seen, including the Portland Press Herald/University of New Hampshire survey in June, which also showed Cain with a lead that fell within the margin of error.
Perhaps more interesting than the Cain-Poliquin split, the POS poll also showed independent Blaine Richardson commanding 6 percent of the vote. That’s a far cry from an electoral mandate, obviously, but it shows that Richardson is a factor in the race.
Richardson is a former Republican and staunch conservative who left the party this year to run as an independent, which essentially assured his place on the ballot. Conventional wisdom showed that Richardson’s support would come at the expense of Poliquin, who added credence to that idea last week when he called Richardson and asked him to drop out of the race.
That’s why Richardson’s 6 percent is interesting: It’s more than the spread between the two front-runners. If the Republican candidate got his way, and Richardson left the race, it’s possible the contest would be even closer, and may even tip in Poliquin’s favor. That said, Richardson has made clear he has no intention of dropping out.
Matt Hutson, Poliquin’s campaign manager, said Tuesday that he wasn’t worried about Richardson’s showing.
“I think you’ll see more and more folks, who are former supporters of Blaine’s coming around and supporting Bruce,” he said. “They’ll see that Blaine has no chance of winning, and they’ll want to see someone win who represents the values of the 2nd District.”
Cain’s campaign spokesman, Dan Cashman, didn’t say much about Richardson or the poll, but said Cain remains confident about her chances.
“2nd District voters support Emily because she shares their values and has always stayed at the table to do what’s right for Maine’s middle class,” he said.
Obviously it’s still a long way to go until Election Day, and with 24 percent of the 2nd District’s voters still undecided, there’s still a lot of room for change. But if things remain this close, low-polling Richardson will be as important in deciding who gets sent to Washington as anyone else.
* The poll was conducted August 17-19, and was conducted with live interviewers. Public Opinion Strategies surveyed 400 likely Maine voters, 100 of which were reached via cell phone. POS uses a stratified polling methodology to poll a sample representative of Maine’s gender, age and geographic demographics.