Wednesday August 28, 2013 | 06:15 PM

WASHINGTON – A statewide poll suggests that Maine Sen. Susan Collins remains popular with the majority of voters across the political spectrum but that the Republican could be vulnerable to a more conservative primary challenger – were one to emerge, that is.

Public Policy Polling's second installment of their results is a hodge podge ranging from your typical favorable/unfavorable ratings of politicians to whether Mainers would rather move to Canada or to The South. Along the way the North Carolina-based pollsters also delve into legalized marijuana, impeaching Obama and even a (presumably entirely hypothetical) political match-up between Maine's senior senator and the King of Horror.

Much of the poll focused on Collins, however, as she prepares to seek a fourth term next year.

PPP said that 57 percent of the 953 respondents approved of Collins, which the firm said makes her one of the more popular members of the deeply unpopular Congress.

The poll was conducted by fully automated telephone surveys – rather than interactive conservations with live pollsters – and had a margin of error of 3.2 percent for the overall survey and 5.5 percent for the smaller survey of Republican voters. (You can find our recap of PPP’s earlier installment on the 2014 gubernatorial race here.)

Collins polled highest – with 61 percent approval – among members of her own party, but 58 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of independents also looked upon her favorably. Those figures were all down somewhat from PPP’s last poll in Maine, however. During that January survey, Collins’ overall approval rating stood at 63 percent and at 66 percent among Republicans, 64 percent among independents and 60 percent among Democrats.

No one has stepped forward to challenge her in the Republican primary yet, despite occasional rumors of a tea party or conservative opponent.

Should a challenger emerge, however, the PPP poll suggested that Maine Republicans were almost equally divided: 48 percent of Republican respondents would prefer a more conservative candidate than Collins while 47 percent would prefer the moderate incumbent.

Independent freshman Sen. Angus King, meanwhile, had an overall approval rating of 57 percent in the poll conducted between Aug. 23rd and 25th. That figure represents 71 percent approval among Democrats, 50 percent among independents but just 26 percent among Republicans.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-District 1, fared poorest in the PPP poll with 41 percent of respondents rating her unfavorably, 40 percent favorably and 19 percent undecided. Pingree’s numbers were clearly dragged down by Republicans, only 10 percent of which regarded her favorably, compared to 63 percent among Democrats.

As explained here by my colleague Steve Mistler, PPP is sometimes accused by Republicans (i.e. the campaign of Gov. Paul LePage) of having a Democratic bias. But the firm has amassed a solid track record of predicting races.

For instance, PPP’s final poll prior to Election Day 2012 predicted that independent Angus King would win the U.S. Senate race with 50 percent of the vote compared to 36 percent for Republican Charlie Summers and 12 percent for Democrat Cynthia Dill. They were within one percentage point for two out of the three: King received 51 percent, Summers got 30 percent and Dill picked up 13 percent.

Following are some other highlights, including a few of PPP’s typically unconventional questions:

-- 54 percent of Republicans polled would support impeaching President Obama.

-- 53 percent of respondents support keeping same-sex marriage legal in Maine versus 38 percent who oppose the status quo.

-- 48 percent of poll takers would legalize marijuana compared to 39 percent who wouldn’t and 14 percent who couldn’t make up their mind either way.

-- 34 percent of respondents believe Collins belongs in the Republican Party while 33 percent said she should really call herself an independent and 20 percent a Democrat. Interestingly, 43 percent of independents saw Collins fitting in better among ranks of the unenrolled.

-- If they had to choose, Mainers would rather move to Canada than to the South -- by a margin of 44 percent to 29 percent, according to PPP. The remaining 27 percent apparently didn’t even want to entertain the idea.

-- Stephen King may be Mainers’ favorite home-grown horror author, but the Democrat might not want to challenge Collins next year (not that he is considering it). Collins would win 54 percent to 31 percent in PPP’s hypothetical showdown between the two Bangor residents. Of course, the U.S. Senate clerks would also probably prefer that outcome rather constantly having to figure out which “Mr. King from Maine” voted which way.

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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.
Kevin can be reached at 317-6256 or kmiller@mainetoday.com

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