New poll: LePage remains among least popular governors

Good morning from Augusta, where there is a gap between Gov. Paul LePage’s performance in the 2014 election and his approval rating in a new poll released by the Morning Consult.

The online poll, which claims a margin of error of 5 percent, pegged LePage’s approval rating at 38 percent, with 58 percent of respondents surveyed between January and May of this year saying they disapprove of LePage. Four percent were undecided. Those numbers are nearly identical to what a Morning Consult poll found in November 2015.

LePage’s approval rating is about 10 points off from his tally in the 2014 election, when more than 48 percent of voters re-elected him.

LePage has been interested in polls lately. He noted in a press release on Tuesday that only 6 percent of the public “has any confidence in the media,” citing an Associated Press story from April.


I felt a little better when I looked at the actual poll data, which showed that while only 6 percent had “a great deal of confidence” in the media, 52 percent had “only some confidence,” followed by 41 percent with “hardly any confidence at all.”

These still aren’t numbers I’m going to call my mom about.

Anyway, in the new poll about all U.S. governors, LePage’s approval ranked fifth from the bottom. Connecticut Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy of Connecticut and Republican Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas had the highest disapproval ratings, at 64 percent and 65 percent, respectively.

Eight of the country’s top 10 most-approved-of governors in the Morning Consult poll were Republicans, with Gov. Charlie Baker, R-Massachusetts, at the top with 72 percent approval. — Christopher Cousins

New rules implemented on General Assistance for immigrants

The Department of Health and Human Services has released its final rule regarding the administration of General Assistance benefits to certain immigrants. The rule follows passage of a law in 2015 that sought to allow immigrants seeking asylum to be eligible for General Assistance cash benefits for two years. The bill became law after Gov. Paul LePage missed the deadline to veto it.

According to Maine Equal Justice Partners, a legal aid organization that represents low-income Mainers, the final proposed rule has been improved since it was originally proposed but remains contrary to the intent of the 2015 bill.

“The rules violate state law and directly contradict the intent of the Legislature when it passed a law last year to ensure that asylum seekers are not harmed because of a failure in federal law,” said Robyn Merrill, MEJP’s executive director, in a written statement.

The rule allows General Assistance for immigrants who have applied for asylum and are awaiting a decision, but not immigrants who are taking steps to apply for federal work permits, refugee assistance or other relief programs.

“The Legislature recognized that taking away people’s only form of financial support when they are unable to work due to a broken federal immigration process would have devastating and unacceptable consequences for these individuals, their families, Maine communities and our state,” said Merrill.

The LePage administration and some Republicans have long argued that General Assistance should be available to immigrants only after they have been granted citizenship or asylum. — Christopher Cousins

Quick hits

  • New research from the AAA foundation found that fatal crashes involving drivers who recently used marijuana doubled in Washington after the state legalized recreational use of the drug. The percentage of Washington drivers involved in fatal crashes went from 8 percent to 17 percent between 2013 and 2014. AAA expressed concern about legal marijuana intoxication limits, which it argued are not backed by science, in the face of some 20 states, including Maine, which are considering legalizing recreational marijuana this year.
  • Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree announced Wednesday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has agreed to re-evaluate the standards for foods labeled “healthy.” Pingree has long been focused on improving labeling on food and increasing its availability. Pingree said that because the current rules focus too much on low fat diets, they discount the nutritional value of, for example, a snack bar made with nuts.

Reading list

Maine’s political dialogue has gone to the dogs

For months, 2nd Congressional District candidate Emily Cain, a Democrat, has been sending out fundraising emails “written” by her dog Bartlet.

“She’s crisscrossing Maine’s second district so much that sometimes we go a whole WEEK without playing tug-of-war,” “said” Bartlet in a recent email. “That’s ruff!”

I swear I am not making this up. (h/t to Dave Barry)

The Republicans won’t be outdone. Maine Republican Party Executive Director Jason Savage landed a dog “interview” with Gov. Paul LePage’s new Jack Russell Terrier, Veto. The “exclusive” Q&A first appeared on the Maine Wire, a site hosted by the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center.

It doesn’t look like the governor was given an advance copy, judging by Veto’s revelation that LePage gives “great belly rubs.”

I’m working on a fact-check. Here’s your soundtrack.  — 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.