New poll shows Michaud with slim 2014 edge, plus Mainers love Sens. King and Collins

New polling results from the Portland-based firm Critical Insights indicate Democratic U.S. Rep. Michaud would edge a slim victory if the gubernatorial election were held tomorrow.

The poll also indicates that Mainers like Obama just a little bit less than the nation as a whole does, and that residents of the Pine Tree State just love Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King.

BDN photos by Mario Moretto (King, Michaud) and Troy Bennett (Collins).

Critical Insights has conducted its “Tracking Poll” twice annually for 17 years. The poll was conducted via landline and mobile phones from Sept. 27 through 30, when the firm interviewed 600 randomly selected likely Maine voters. The poll’s margin of error is +/- 4 percent. 

It’s worth noting (at least to me) that the relatively wealthy seem to be slightly over-represented in the survey; one-third of respondents said their annual household income was more than $75,000 per year. The median household income in Maine is just $46,000 per year.

Critical insights also didn’t provide any cross-tabulations, so it’s hard to know exactly what the numbers say when they provide tidbits like “Mike Michaud polls better with respondents over 65 years old.” Efforts to contact the firm Thursday to ask about the wealthy skew and to request cross-tabs were unsuccessful.

The poll was also conducted before the federal shutdown began, and before Gov. Paul LePage declared a state of civil emergency as a response to that shutdown, so … consider that as you read on.

Now, let’s get into the goodies:

  •  If the race for governor were held tomorrow, the results state, Michaud would win with 33 percent of the vote, though his victory is within the margin of error. Incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage would pull 30 percent of the vote, and Independent Eliot Cutler would draw 24 percent. Another 13 percent were undecided. (Another recent in one Maine swing district, SD 26, showed LePage winning with 42 percent of the vote, so remember, the election is a year away).
  • President Barack Obama’s favorability among Mainers dropped below 50 percent for the first time since Spring 2012, and for only the fourth time since he was inaugurated. Just 46 percent of respondents said they have a favorable opinion of the president, compared with 53 percent of national respondents in a September Gallup poll. 
  • Nearly two-thirds — 63 percent — of respondents said they approve of the job first-term Independent Sen. Angus King is doing in Washington. That’s a 14 percent jump since the poll was conducted six months ago. Just 17 percent disapprove of King’s job performance, and 20 percent didn’t know or refused to answer.
  • Republican Sen. Susan Collins fared even better: 69 percent approved of her job performance, while 20 percent disapprove and 11 percent didn’t know or refused to answer.
  • Gov. Paul LePage saw a slight uptick in his job approval ratings — 39 percent approved of his handling of state business compared with 37 percent six months ago. Still, 53 percent disapprove of his job performance.

Here’s my personal favorite: In response to the question, “All in all, do you think things in Maine are generally headed in the right direction, or do you feel that things are off on the wrong track?” about a third of respondents, 35 percent, said things were headed in the right direction while 47 percent said things were going the wrong way. 

The interesting insight in this response, though, is that Gov. LePage is a big reason why respondents answered the way they did — regardless of whether they felt warmly or cool on the state’s direction.

Among those who said things are going the right way, a plurality — 20 percent  — said it was because of the governor.* One-third of those who thought things were headed in the wrong direction also cited the governor as their reason why. 

There’s a lot of other information in the poll results. Read the whole thing here.

* Another 20 percent listed “general optimism” as their reason for optimism. “Balancing the budget” (whatever that means) and “gradual improvement in the economy” were worth 16 and 13 percent, respectively.

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.