The man who continues to dominate the polls in the gubernatorial election says he isn’t taking anything for granted as yet another survey puts him well ahead of the competition.

The Maine Poll taken Monday has 38 percent of respondents voting for Republican Paul LePage, followed by 25 percent for Democrat Elizabeth “Libby” Mitchell. Eliot Cutler, an unenrolled candidate, follows at 11 percent. And unenrolled candidates Shawn Moody and Kevin Scott had 4 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

“My feeling about polls is very simply this: They were wrong during the primary, they’re likely wrong now,” LePage said. “So we have to work our butts off until Nov. 2. We’ll know then what the real vote is.”

The poll asked voters about their biggest concerns, and economic issues unsurprisingly dominated. According to the poll, 30 percent of those surveyed listed the lack of jobs/unemployment as their top concern, followed by the “bad economy” at 24 percent and taxes at 12 percent.

“If the polls are accurate, then that’s why I’m leading. That’s what I’ve been saying: ‘It’s the economy, stupid,’” LePage said. “We need to get jobs, jobs and better jobs.”

Jesse Connolly, a political consultant to Mitchell’s campaign, said he thought the poll results showed the election is a two-way race between his candidate and LePage. There’s still a “sizable chunk” of voters who have yet to make up their minds, Connolly said.

According to the poll, 21 percent of those surveyed were undecided.

“I think the way people respond in a poll is very different from how they vote on Election Day,” Connolly said. “They’re going to be looking for an experienced leader who can help guide the state out of this economic turmoil. I think Libby is going to be the candidate they’re going to choose.”

The televised debates will be an important factor in the race, said Connolly, with the first scheduled for next Saturday.

“We think her message is going to resonate with a statewide audience,” Connolly said. “We expect these numbers to tighten.”

Edward “Ted” O’Meara, Cutler’s campaign manager, noted that “polls are not predictors of outcomes, they’re a snapshot in time.” O’Meara said the campaign’s internal polls show Cutler doing “much better” than the results in The Maine Poll.

“Would we have liked to see better numbers than those in this poll? Obviously. Do we think the numbers are going to get better? Yes,” said O’Meara. “A lot of people are starting to tune into the election, and we’re building a campaign that can win.”

O’Meara said the campaign’s polling shows Cutler as the second choice of many voters who support LePage and Mitchell.

“As people move away from the two partisan candidates, the one place that they will come to by better than 3-to-1 is Eliot’s campaign,” O’Meara said.

Moody said he thought the pool of undecided voters seemed to be growing as the campaign progressed. A recent poll put them at 12 percent, compared to 21 percent in the latest poll.

“Those are going to be available voters, they’re in place, so to speak,” Moody said. “I think we’re going to be viewed as the new fresh candidate.”

Moody said his campaign launched an aggressive TV ad campaign last week and also did a big mailing, neither of which would be reflected in the recent poll.

Michael Pajak, Scott’s campaign manager, also noted that 21 percent pool of undecided voters, calling it a “cause for hope.”

Most voters the campaign talks to are looking for honesty and integrity in candidates, Pajak said.

“As they do take a closer look at the candidates, I hope those voters find those qualities in abundance in Kevin Scott,” Pajak said. “We may find some positive movement.”

Staff Writer Matt Wickenheiser can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:

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