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Friday November 04, 2011 | 02:53 PM

A poll of Maine voters contains an early campaign season snapshot of good news and bad news for President Obama.

The good news in the Public Policy Polling survey is that Obama leads potential GOP challengers in Maine by a comfortable margin, though not by the 18-point margin with which he won the state in 2008 over John McCain.

However, Obama’s approval rating among the 637 Maine voters surveyed between Oct. 28-31 is just 47 percent, with 48 percent of the Mainers surveyed disapproving of the president’s job performance, PPP found. That is down from a 51-44 percent margin seven months ago, PPP said in a release about its poll.

Democrats approved of Obama by 75-17 percent, a lower than usual rating from his own party, and he lagged 46-49 percent with independents, the poll found.

Still, there is some good news for Obama a year out from the 2012 election, according to the PPP poll. Mainers currently don’t like the GOP alternatives.

Republican Mitt Romney is the best liked of the GOP presidential field, and his favorability rating is minus 11. Herman Cain stands at a minus 14 approval rating, while the rest of the pack fares far worse, with Rick Perry coming in at minus 50 points, with just 16 percent of Mainers approving of him versus 66 percent disapproving.

In the head to head horse race poll, Obama leads Romney 49-38, and the rest of the GOP field by wider margins, the poll found.

“Barack Obama probably doesn’t need to worry about actually winning Maine,” said

Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling, in a statement. “But his being under water there in his approval numbers speaks to the difficulties he’s having even in states that he won by wide margins in 2008.”

PPP calls itself a Democratic polling company, but notes that polling expert Nate Silver of the New York Times found that its surveys in 2010 actually exhibited a slight bias toward Republican candidates. The Maine poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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