AUGUSTA — Republican Paul LePage is running “slightly ahead” of the field in Maine’s race for governor, according to a poll released Monday.

LePage, the mayor of Waterville, received support from 38 percent of the 500 likely voters who were contacted Thursday, according to the poll by Rasmussen Reports. The automated poll, conducted on land-line phones only, has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

A similar poll released about a month ago showed LePage with support from 39 percent of likely Maine voters.

Libby Mitchell, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, also held steady in the new poll, with 30 percent of voters supporting her, compared with 31 percent in July.

Independent candidate Eliot Cutler had support from 16 percent of those polled. Four percent said they were supporting another candidate and 11 percent said they were undecided.

Spokesmen for Shawn Moody and Kevin Scott, independent candidates, said they were disappointed that Rasmussen declined to ask voters about all five candidates on the ballot, and they questioned the poll’s accuracy.

“By only listing some of the choices, many voters are led to a selection or a name they recognize, not necessarily one they will ultimately support,” said Dennis Bailey of the Moody campaign.

Michael Pajak, communications director for the Scott campaign, said people shouldn’t look at the poll seriously because it’s asking only part of the question.

“There are five candidates. They are only asking about three of them. That’s really all you need to know about it,” he said.

Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, dismissed claims that the poll was inaccurate because it didn’t ask about Moody and Scott.

“I don’t think it matters a great deal,” he said. “But for what it’s worth, if this was my poll, I would put them all on there. They are all on the ballot, so you put them all on.”

Brewer and Jim Melcher, a political science professor at the University of Maine at Farmington, said the big message from the poll is that LePage is maintaining his lead.

“A lot of Democrats thought LePage made a number of mistakes a few weeks ago. Some were talking about his train trip being a disaster and calling it the ‘crazy train’ tour,” Melcher said. “But the numbers haven’t fallen off.”

Brewer said he was surprised by LePage’s ability to weather the bad press.

“The fact that his number hasn’t really moved despite a rough patch there has got to be somewhat reassuring for his campaign,” Brewer said. “I think these numbers are a win for LePage; it’s a loss for Cutler, in the fact that he seems to have stagnated at this point. For Mitchell, it’s kind of a draw.”

 

MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at: [email protected]