New poll shows Clinton widening Maine lead but 2nd District still up for grabs

Good morning from Fort Kent (more on that later), where a new poll shows Democrat Hillary Clinton with an expanded eight-point statewide lead among Maine voters over Republican Donald Trump, 44 percent to 36 percent, in a four-way race.

According to the new poll by the progressive Maine People’s Resource Center, an affiliate of the Maine People’s Alliance, Clinton is also within a percentage point of Trump in the crucial 2nd Congressional District, 39 percent to 40 percent, in a four-way race.

Those totals, which result from phone and online surveys of 892 voters Oct. 7 through 9, reflect a significantly improved standing for Clinton compared with a September poll from the same organization. That poll had Clinton virtually tied statewide and 11 points down in the 2nd Congressional District. Her commanding lead in the 1st District remains commanding.

Hanging in the balance is one of Maine’s four electoral votes, which the Trump camp has been pursuing aggressively with three trips to Maine for the candidate so far and another scheduled for Saturday.

Clinton has countered with a Bangor rally led by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders last Friday and a scheduled Orono campaign stop Thursday by Chelsea Clinton, the candidate’s daughter.

According to the center, the latest poll does not account for the full impact of the release last week of the 2005 tape of Trump making lewd comments about sexual assault because some of the polling was done prior to that release. It also doesn’t reflect Sunday’s presidential debate and comes just after the release of new documents released in the Clinton email scandal that could damage Clinton moving forward.

The poll suggests that in Maine, preference is shifting slightly to Clinton from two third-party candidates in the race. The latest survey also indicates a decreasing number of undecided voters in the race. Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein garnered 8.8 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively, and 8.2 percent were undecided. All three of those numbers were down by approximately 2 points.

Clinton’s increased lead and Trump’s static support suggest that his base is solid but perhaps at or near its ceiling.

The poll has a margin of error of 3.3 percent.

The poll in Maine echoes what has happened nationally in recent days: Clinton increasing her lead. However, the bombshells in this race keep dropping and there are still nearly four weeks left before Nov. 8. — Christopher Cousins

Quick hits

  • Gabby Giffords visit: Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat from Arizona and co-founder of the gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC, will visit Portland on Wednesday as part of her six-week bus tour across America to raise awareness against gun violence. In Maine, Giffords will advocate in favor of Question 3 on the November ballot, which seeks to require background checks for all private gun sales. Giffords will appear at Congress Square Park at noon.
  • The Amazing Mal: Mal Leary of MPBN, who is considered by both reporters and politicos as the dean of Maine political journalism, will continue his service to the National Freedom of Information Coalition as its president. Leary, who is also vice president of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition, is a rugged advocate for transparency at both the governmental and individual levels. On Tuesday, Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin felt the Leary bite during a media event in Skowhegan. After Poliquin refused to answer questions about his support or opposition to Donald Trump — about whom Poliquin has been largely mum — Leary said “Congressman, you cannot hide.”
  • Question 4 ad debut: Mainers for Fair Wages, which supports raising the minimum wage in Maine through Question 4 on the November ballot, is scheduled to release its first television ad today during an 11:30 a.m. news conference at the Bangor Public Library. The group will also discuss a new report about Maine’s working seniors.
  • New Riverview facility approved: A new forensic facility to be built next to the state-run Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta was approved Tuesday by the Augusta Planning Board by a 5-0 vote, according to Keith Edwards of the Kennebec Journal. The 21-bed facility is designed to serve patients who have committed crimes but were deemed mentally unfit for trial or conviction. This debate isn’t over, though. Some lawmakers have criticized the LePage administration for moving forward with the project without sharing enough information about it, including how it will be funded.

Reading list

Just about as ‘northern Maine’ as possible

This wasn’t my idea. My editors have dispatched me on a tour of the 2nd Congressional District. First stop: 300 miles from home in Fort Kent. It was a stellar drive and the people here, including my BDN colleague and host Julia Bayly at Rusty Metal Farm, are welcoming and cordial.

The trip hasn’t been without its hiccups. I was somewhere near Pittsfield when I realized that in the scramble to leave and get the kids ready for school Tuesday morning, I forgot three dress shirts I had prepared to take with me. That leaves me with a pile of undershirts from Renys. The dressiest shirt I have with me, other than the one I wore Tuesday, has a picture of John Lennon wearing a “New York City” T-shirt on it. I’m thinking that might be one of the worst clothing choices there is for northern Aroostook County. I’m eyeing a light fleece as my outer shell for the next couple of days.

Also left behind is my iPod because I couldn’t find one of the wires I need to connect it to my car. That led to a lot of scanning on the radio and about 100 miles listening to the God’s Country radio station, which I think has a policy that they don’t play any music that doesn’t mention Jesus. There was some great music, including one song which is now today’s Daily Brief soundtrack.

Enjoy, and stay tuned for more notes from my trip. This will end by week’s end somewhere in Oxford County. — 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.