July 11, 2012

Press Herald Poll: President leading race in Maine

Respondents give Obama a 49 percent to 35 percent edge over Romney. In congressional elections, King is out in front, as are Reps. Pingree and Michaud.

By John Richardson jrichardson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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The Portland Press Herald poll was conducted by Critical Insights, a Portland-based opinion research firm.

The company called 615 voters around the state from June 20-25. It used random landlines and cellphones and conducted personal interviews.

The results were statistically weighted to reflect the demographics of the state’s voting population.

The poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points for results based on the entire sample, with larger margins for subgroups such as independent voters or older voters.

An additional 100 women were polled to provide additional data on women’s perspectives.

Obama has strong support from Maine women, and from voters who are younger than 35 and older than 55.

Romney's support is strongest among middle-age voters and men, according to the poll.

Voters who were polled said they trust Obama over Romney to handle such issues as international affairs, national security, health care and women's issues. And when asked who they most trust to create jobs – Romney's central campaign issue – 42 percent chose Obama and 42 percent chose Romney.

"That right there is terrible news for Romney," said Mark Brewer, associate professor of political science at the University of Maine.

Brewer said Maine voters like to be able to relate to their political leaders as one of them. "Obama can do average guy a lot better than Romney can," Brewer said. "Mitt Romney doesn't come off as a kind of politician Mainers would warm up to."

Elizabeth Sellner, a 49-year-old mother and independent voter from Portland, said she will vote for Romney because she is determined to remove Obama.

"It's time to move on. ... I wish we could find a president like Ronald Reagan," she said. Asked if Romney could be that president, she said, "I think so. I hope so."


King is in firm control of the race for Republican Olympia Snowe's U.S. Senate seat, according to the poll. While a lot of time remains between now and November, said Brewer, "it's clearly his race to lose."

King's appeal crosses a wide spectrum, according to the poll, with more than 50 percent support among almost every subgroup of voters: men, women, young, old, less educated, more educated, low-income, high-income.

He trails only among Republicans and self-described conservatives, who favor Summers.

The poll did not ask by name about three lesser-known independent Senate candidates, though 1 percent of respondents said they plan to vote for someone other than King, Summers or Dill.

Hatt, the Democrat from Camden, said he doesn't feel obligated to vote for his party's candidate. "I don't know much about her. I know Angus King and I like him," Hatt said.

Some Democratic voters said they are backing King to make sure that a Republican isn't elected. Mainers elected Republican Gov. Paul LePage in 2010 in a race in which independent Eliot Cutler finished a close second and Democrat Libby Mitchell finished a distant third.

"(King) is vastly preferable to any of the Republicans who seem to be wedded to the kind of extremist policies of ... the tea party," said George McNeil, a physician and a Democratic voter from the Steep Falls section of Standish.

King's candidacy as an unattached moderate trying to break through partisanship in the Senate is a message that appeals to Maine voters, according to the poll. Fifty-eight percent of those polled said they want their U.S. senators and representatives to be willing to compromise and vote across party lines, rather than always vote on their principles.

"What irritates me most is how everybody that gets elected seems to fall in line with their party's principles," said James Violette, 65, a retired teacher and unenrolled voter from Nobleboro who is leaning toward supporting King.

Herman London, a Republican and a retired potato farmer from Hodgdon in Aroostook County, said he will vote for Summers and doesn't believe King can change politics in Washington. "I don't think there's any one person we put in there who's going to fix the problem," he said.


Pingree's lead in the 1st Congressional District reflects strong support from Maine's independent voters as well as Democrats, according to the poll.

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Additional Photos

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Jason Bermudez of Portland, a registered Democrat, says he still has faith in President Obama despite the slow economy. “I think he was handed a big mess, and to think that he could have wrapped it all up in four years is a little naïve,” he said.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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Independent voter Elizabeth Sellner of Portland, with her daughter Maiah, says she plans to vote for Mitt Romney because “it’s time to move on” from President Obama.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer


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