October 10, 2010

Political poll sees shift in numbers

The survey for a conservative website finds a narrowing race in the 1st District, and a virtual tie among gubernatorial front-runners.

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

(Continued from page 1)

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Rep. Chellie Pingree, Democratic incumbent

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Dean Scontras, Republican challenger

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Paul LePage    29.6%
Libby Mitchell    28.7%
Eliot Cutler     11.1%
Shawn Moody    4.9%
Kevin Scott    1.6%
Undecided    24.1%

THE POLL, commissioned by the conservative Pine Tree Politics website, was conducted by the Maine Center for Public Opinion, or MECPO, a political research and marketing firm based in Portland.

THE SURVEY, conducted from Oct. 4 through Oct. 7, included interviews with 679 likely voters. The margin of error is 3.76 percentage points.


THIS WEEK: The latest results of The Maine Poll are expected to be published Thursday in The Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Waterville Sentinel.

Smith said he used state voting records to determine how many Republicans, Democrats, Greens and unenrolled voters turned out in Maine's 35 state Senate districts for the past two elections.

"I took an average of those two numbers from each district -- from the primary and the 2009 election -- and used that as an adjustment factor, essentially," he said.

"We used that to determine if we should poll a couple more Republicans or a couple more Democrats or whatever the case might be. I took a snapshot of how many registered voters are in that district, what percentage are Republicans, Democrats and unenrolled, and used that divided into our quota for that district."

Smith is a computer software developer. His first poll was earlier this spring, commissioned by Republican Peter Mills during the primary campaign. The poll showed Mills winning the nomination. Smith, a former Mills staffer, said he evaluated where he went wrong in that poll and is confident in his new methodology.

Two Maine political scientists were skeptical about trying to build a Republican enthusiasm gap into a poll and ending up with accurate results.

"You obviously want to take into account this Republican enthusiasm gap in this election cycle and I can understand the motivation behind that," said Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine in Orono. "But any time you are over-sampling a group like that intentionally, I am kind of leery of those results. It's hard to say what's going on here."

Brewer said it's hard to say if the shift in poll numbers is a result of the methodology or recent controversy surrounding Pingree.

Michael Franz, a political science professor at Bowdoin College, said the polling technique was a bit complicated and could result in skewed data.

"It's possible, because you are making a couple of assumptions based off of previous elections about the turnout numbers for Republicans or for Democrats in certain areas of the state, that may or may not be accurate in this election," he said. "Neither of those were general elections. So the turnout numbers are going to be a little different in a high-profile election like this."

Smith and Gagnon declined to release the results of their poll for Maine's 2nd Congressional District race, because they said they under-sampled some key areas because of poll staffing issues.

They said they will be re-polling the 2nd District race early next week. Critical Insights and MaineToday Media will be publishing the results of their latest poll Thursday.


MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at: rmetzler@centralmaine.com


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Additional Photos

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Paul LePage

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Eliot Cutler

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Libby Mitchell

Shawn Moody,  Eliot Cutler, Paul LePage, Kevin Scott, Libby Mitchell
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Kevin Scott

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