September 23, 2010

For candidates, gaps widen

LATEST POLL: Paul LePage gains 7 points; Libby Mitchell loses 3; and Eliot Cutler dips 2

By Rebekah Metzler rmetzler@mainetoday.com
MaineToday Media State House Writer

AUGUSTA - Republican Paul LePage has extended his lead in Maine's race for governor to 18 percentage points, according to poll results released Wednesday.

LePage, the mayor of Waterville, received support from 45 percent of the 500 likely Maine voters who were contacted Monday, according to the poll by Rasmussen Reports.

Democratic candidate Libby Mitchell, the state Senate president, received support from 27 percent of those who were polled. Independent Eliot Cutler had support from 14 percent.

The automated poll, conducted on land-line phones only, has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

The new poll shows LePage extending his lead from the last Rasmussen poll, taken about a month ago. At that time, he had 38 percent of the vote, Mitchell had 30 and Cutler was third with 16.

None of the Rasmussen polls -- three of which have been done since the primary elections on June 8 -- asked voters about independent candidates Shawn Moody and Kevin Scott. Four percent of respondents in the latest poll said they preferred a candidate other than the top three.

Ten percent of the likely voters said they were undecided.

Despite the widening gap between LePage and his rivals, his campaign said it is not taking anything for granted.

"We feel like we still have a lot of work to do, especially in light of the hundreds of thousands of additional taxpayer dollars in public funding (that Mitchell) has yet to spend," said John Morris, LePage's chief of staff.

Jesse Connolly, campaign manager for Mitchell, said the new numbers reinforced the campaign's belief that it is a two-person race.

"The race is going to come down between Mr. LePage and Libby Mitchell," he said. "As voters start to tune in through the last six weeks and understand the difference between Mr. LePage and Libby Mitchell's policies and plans for leading the state, they will see a stark difference and move toward our side."

Cutler's camp dismissed the notion that the new poll shows the Blaine House is out of reach.

"It's just another poll, we're still a long way from Election Day, and if you believed any of the polls back in the primary, we'd be running against Les Otten today," said Ted O'Meara, Cutler's campaign manager. "You have to take them all with a certain grain of salt, and I think people should stay focused on the candidates and what they are saying, what they are proposing and what their ideas are for Maine. That's what's really important."

Poll results released Sunday from a survey done by Critical Insights in collaboration with MaineToday Media showed LePage with 38 percent support, Mitchell with 25 percent, Cutler with 11 percent, Moody with 4 percent and Scott with 1 percent.

Twenty-one percent of the voters in that poll were undecided.

MaineToday Media State House Reporter Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:

rmetzler@centralmaine.com

 

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