The Maine People's Resource Center has released the results of a public opinion poll of likely Maine 2012 voters, with survey information on the presidential race, both races for Congress, the U.S. Senate primary and general elections and the November referendum on equal marriage.
The timing of the poll, coming after candidates have announced their intentions but before campaigns have begun in earnest, means that these results show only the current lay of the land and an early snapshot in time, rather than necessarily being predictive of final election outcomes.
“What these numbers mostly show is name recognition,” said MPRC Communications Director Mike Tipping. “These results tell us where candidates are starting, not where they’ll end up. Obviously, incumbents and those who have been in the public eye have an advantage at this point.”
The survey results show President Obama with a statewide lead against likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney, taking 54.6% of the vote, but depict a much closer race in the Second Congressional District. The Second is often referred to as Maine’s “swing district” due to the separate apportionment of its Electoral College vote and it could be a target for both campaigns.
In the two Congressional races, Incumbents Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud have strong leads over challengers Jon Courtney and Kevin Raye.
In the primary elections for U.S. Senate, to be decided in June, undecided voters represent the largest blocks within each party, including more than 50% of likely Democratic voters. Among those who support a candidate, Cynthia Dill and Matt Dunlap are in a statistical tie for the lead on the Democratic side and Charlie Summers leads all other candidates in the Republican contest, with more than double the support of second-place candidate Bruce Poliquin.
A test general election match-up between Summers, Dunlap and independent candidate Angus King sees King leading with 56% of the vote and these potential Republican and Democratic candidates trailing by wide margins. King garners larger shares of unenrolled and Democratic voters than he does Republicans.
Governor Paul LePage's 38.9% approval, 56.3% disapproval rating in this poll represents a sharp decrease from his 44.3/46.0 rating in November, 2011 and a smaller but significant decrease from his 41.1/52.7 rating nearly one year ago in May, 2011.
A majority of respondents (58%) indicated support for same-sex marriage being legal in Maine. This result is slightly higher than but does not represent a statistically significant difference from the results of two other recent public polls.
MPRC has a reputation for accuracy in public opinion research. In 2010, The National Council on Public Polls found MPRC to have produced the most accurate results of evaluated polls for the Maine gubernatorial election.
In 2011, MPRC released the most accurate survey results on all four statewide ballot issues and also polled the Portland mayoral election, with a result that the Portland Press Herald described as "uncannily close."
In January of this year, the Portland Phoenix counted the Center’s public opinion research among the top “twelve sweet ideas for 2012,” declaring that “MPRC is elevating the discourse around what Maine people actually think and want.”
Full results and methodological information available here: