Second Congressional District Rep. Mike Michaud had a double-digit lead over Republican challenger Jason Levesque in polling conducted last week for The Maine Poll.
But with 28 percent of respondents undecided and six weeks until the Nov. 2 elections, the outcome is still very much in doubt.
Another recent poll found the race to be more competitive. A survey released Sept. 9 by Public Policy Polling showed the Democrat with only a seven percentage-point lead over Levesque, 45-38, and the polling firm said that Michaud is “vastly under-performing” compared with his previous races.
In the MaineToday Media poll conducted last Monday, congressional district residents were asked who they would vote for if the election were held now, and 48 percent selected Michaud, compared with 28 percent for Levesque, a 35-year-old Auburn businessman. Despite Michaud’s 20-point advantage, though, the remaining 28 percent of respondents either didn’t know who they would vote for or declined to say.
The MaineToday Media telephone poll included 287 registered voters in the 2nd Congressional District. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points at a 95 percent degree of confidence.
Some political observers think that, regardless of what the different polls say, Michaud is likely to win re-election. Sandy Maisel, a political science professor at Colby College in Waterville, thinks any poll is “suspect” if it doesn’t show Michaud with a “comfortable lead.”
“He is extremely popular with all parts of the political spectrum and has worked hard to stay that way,” Maisel said of Michaud, 55, of East Millinocket. “Levesque remains basically an unknown quantity to most in the district.”
Christian Potholm, a government professor at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, thinks a combination of factors will ultimately favor Michaud.
“Michaud works hard, has solid blue-collar support and has a great deal of support among those who hunt and fish,” Potholm said, “so any challenger has a hard time getting any traction.”
But Levesque says he is closing the gap. In an interview this week, he said the recent survey from Public Policy Polling reflects the hard work of his campaign.
“I’m looking forward to this phase of this campaign; I’m going to continue doing what I have been the last 14 months — listening to thousands of Mainers,” Levesque said.
“I need to get to the voters of Maine who are upset with the fact that the country and the state are going downhill and voters who care about their children’s future and care about good jobs in Maine.”
Michaud, in an interview last week, said he’s not concerned what different polls say. “I feel really good about the chances and I’m going to keep doing what I’ve always done and keep focused on the job people elected me to do,” Michaud said. The first debate between the two candidates is at 4 p.m. Sept. 25 at Hollywood Slots Hotel & Raceway in Bangor.
While Michaud has solidified the support of his Democratic base, according to Public Policy Polling, many Republican voters remain undecided, “so that unity gap will likely close in the next two months.”
The Maine Poll suggests that, of people who are unlikely to change their minds, Levesque has a slight edge. Of respondents who said they would vote for Michaud, 67 percent said they “definitely” would and 33 percent said they “probably” would. Of those who said they’d vote for Levesque, 74 percent said “definitely” and 26 percent said “probably.”
Among undecided respondents, 63 percent said they were not leaning toward either candidate and 28 percent said they didn’t know.
The Maine Poll also offers insight into the voters each candidate is attracting:
• Michaud, who is Franco-American, has the support of half of the respondents who identify with that ethnicity, while Levesque captured 18 percent of those respondents. The remaining 31 percent weren’t sure.
• 45 percent of women preferred Michaud; 23 percent Levesque; and 28 percent weren’t sure.
• 51 percent of men preferred Michaud; 34 percent Levesque; and 10 percent weren’t sure.
• Michaud dominated among younger voters, getting the support of 67 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds, compared with 16 percent for Levesque. Seventeen percent of young voters didn’t know who they’d vote for.
Among respondents aged 35 to 64, Michaud garnered 46 percent to Levesque’s 31 percent. Twenty-one percent didn’t know. Among the eldest group — those 65 and older — Michaud won 48 percent to Levesque’s 28 percent. Eighteen percent didn’t know.
• Michaud and Levesque closely divided respondents who didn’t graduate from college, 40 percent to 34 percent, in favor of Michaud. However, Michaud prevailed among college graduates, 63 percent to 18 percent.
Morning Sentinel Staff Reporter Scott Monroe can be contacted at 861-9239 or at: