Most Mainers may support ranked-choice voting. But do they understand it?

Good morning from Augusta, where some new polling on ranked-choice voting — apparently one of this year’s more under-the-radar election issues in Maine — caught our eye this morning.

The Portland Press Herald continued releasing results from its mid-September poll of more than 500 Maine voters, finding that 48 percent of respondents supported Question 5 on the November ballot. Another 29 percent of voters said they would vote against the change with 23 percent saying they were undecided.

In all, that’s pretty good news for proponents of the proposal to allow voters to rank choices in gubernatorial, congressional and legislative races with more than three candidate.

But it’s clear that voters aren’t well-versed on the idea, and that issue is confirmed by an internal poll given to the Bangor Daily News on Tuesday by the Committee on Ranked Voting, which is running the campaign. (The BDN typically doesn’t publish or publicize internal polls, but the poll of 603 Mainers was done in the last two weeks and the campaign provided 18 pages of data on questions that haven’t been asked in public polling so far.)

That poll said while 60 percent of respondents favored the reform, only 49 percent would vote for it if the election was held that day. However, when they learned more about it, that number rose to 55 percent. Only 46 percent of respondents said that they were familiar with the proposal, while 43 percent said they weren’t.

The campaign has been trying to educate the public with “beer elections” at Maine breweries during September and more will surely learn about it over the course of October. But it seems that education is still the campaign’s biggest hurdle.— Michael Shepherd

Quick hits

  • U.S. Sen. Angus King is concerned about “unintended consequences” of the first overriden veto from President Barack Obama. On Wednesday, Congress overwhelmingly rejected Obama’s veto of a bill allowing Sept. 11 attack victims to sue Saudi Arabia. Maine’s delegation supported the override. But King, a Maine independent, was one of 28 senators to send a letter to the bill’s Senate sponsors saying there could be “unintended consequences” that lawmakers may have to mitigate, including other countries weakening U.S. immunity protections.
  • The Professional Logging Contractors of Maine asked Democratic 2nd Congressional District candidate Emily Cain to take down an ad in which loggers criticize U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin. The group doesn’t endorse candidates, but worked with Poliquin to fight the new national monument in Maine’s North Woods. The PLC said it is “implied” that the loggers in the ad “represent the view of loggers across the state,” but the ad doesn’t claim a wider endorsement. One of the loggers is Cam Jackson, the son of former Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson, who lost a 2nd District primary to Cain in 2014. — Michael Shepherd

Reading list

The unsolicited pitch of the day

Reporters get a lot of emails. Some of them are useful. Most aren’t. Often, they’re story pitches from out-of-state public relations people whom we have little use for. But sometimes, even they deliver.

William Yates, an Illinois hair loss doctor, “announced research results” on the presidency that just happen to pertain to what he does for work, calling good hair “a requirement” for the White House.

He said Donald Trump won the Republican primary over candidates with thinning hair such as Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee because of “this subconscious phenomenon” among the electorate. On the Democratic side, “Hillary Clinton clearly dominated over Bernie Sanders windblown combover.”

In the general election, Yates says Trump and Clinton are evenly matched because both have “hairlines that give them framing of the face.”

So, his prediction now hinges on the vice presidential nominees, with Republican Mike Pence’s hairline besting that of Democrat Tim Kaine. Trump, Yates says, is our next president. — Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.