Many voters in the 2nd Congressional District don’t yet know who Emily Cain is, but the Democratic candidate may have a slight edge over Republican Bruce Poliquin, according to a poll by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center commissioned by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.

The poll of 222 likely voters in the 2nd District, conducted June 12-18, found Cain leading Poliquin 44 percent to 39 percent. The 2nd District survey is part of a larger, statewide election and issues poll conducted for the Telegram.

Cain’s advantage is within the 6.5 percent sampling error. Seventeen percent of 2nd District respondents said they were undecided about the race, which will likely be the most competitive of the three congressional races.

Cain is relatively unknown but is liked among those who know the former state House minority leader, the poll found. Thirty-two percent of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of her, 17 percent view her unfavorably, 7 percent said they were neutral. Another 45 percent said they don’t know enough about her.

Poliquin is also relatively unknown, but only 23 percent said they had a favorable opinion of him. Twenty-six percent said they had an unfavorable opinion of the former state treasurer, while another 43 percent said they don’t know enough about him.

Cain has the advantage among Democrats (87 percent to 4 percent) and a slight edge among unenrolled voters (33 percent to 28 percent). Cain also has a 49 percent to 30 percent lead over Poliquin among women voters and a 62 percent to 15 percent lead among people who support abortion in all circumstances.

Poliquin has a large advantage among Republicans (78 percent to 7 percent). He also does well among respondents who said abortion should be illegal (66 percent to 30 percent) or only available in limited circumstances (52 percent to 35 percent).

Poliquin also leads Cain among gun owners, 45 percent to 38 percent.

With less than five months remaining before Election Day, the other two congressional contests appear less competitive.

In the U.S. Senate race, Republican Sen. Susan Collins leads Democratic challenger Shenna Bellows, 72 percent to 17 percent, with 10 percent undecided.

Collins’ support is rooted in both political parties and independents. She is backed by a majority of Republicans (86 percent), independents (87 percent) and Democrats (53 percent).

Bellows does best among those who voted for 2010 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Libby Mitchell, 52 percent to 38 percent. However, Collins “sweeps nearly every other demographic category,” according to a UNH analysis of poll results.

In the 1st District race, Democratic incumbent Chellie Pingree leads Republican Isaac Misiuk, 56 percent to 21 percent, with another 20 percent undecided.

Pingree leads overwhelmingly among Democrats (86 percent to 2 percent), Misiuk leads with Republicans (57 percent to 16 percent). Each candidate has the support of 26 percent of unenrolled voters, but 36 percent of that group is still undecided.

Pingree has a 54 percent favorable rating in the 1st District, while 28 percent have an unfavorable opinion of her. Misiuk, 25, is running for public office for the first time. Eighty percent of respondents said that they don’t know enough about him.

The poll also showed that the referendum question that would make certain bear-trapping practices illegal is favored by 48 percent of respondents while 44 percent oppose it, a statistical tossup.

The issue is relatively unknown, according to the poll. Voters who know a great deal about the measure oppose it by a wide margin, 67 percent to 31 percent. Those who have heard a little about the measure favor it (55 percent to 32 percent), as do those who have heard nothing about it (54 percent to 37 percent).

Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at:

smistler@pressherald.com

Twitter: @stevemistler