February 3, 2011

Poll shows Mainers dissatisfied with, mistrustful of assistance programs

By John Richardson jrichardson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

"That's a really high number. That gives you a bit of a sense that LePage's support is really coming from a reaction to a perception of big government," Franz said.

"This is also a social issue as well as an economic issue. It's a little bit easier to beat up on programs that seemingly help people who aren't helping themselves."

While the majority of all poll respondents agreed that Maine has a responsibility to provide assistance to people in need, 36 percent of LePage supporters said they agreed. Twenty-eight percent of LePage supporters said they disagreed, completely or somewhat. Thirty-five percent were neutral, and 1 percent did not know.

Sixty-one percent of LePage supporters gave Maine an unfavorable rating for its management of public assistance programs. Twenty-four percent of Mitchell supporters and 45 percent of Cutler supporters rated the management as poor or unfavorable.

Eleven percent of LePage supporters said they believe that more than three-quarters of the people receiving assistance are "gaming the system." No Mitchell supporters said the number was that high, while 4 percent of Cutler supporters said it was.

Mitchell, a longtime state legislator, is supported by voters who are less critical and skeptical of the programs, the poll confirms. Mitchell has defended the state's programs on the campaign trail, but also said she wants to help more recipients move from welfare to work.

Nearly three in four Mitchell supporters -- 74 percent -- agreed that the state has a responsibility to help.

Cutler generally falls in between, with supporters who are somewhat frustrated with the programs. Cutler has issued his own welfare reform plan, which includes a time limit for cash assistance.

Sixty-six percent of Cutler supporters said they agreed that the state has a responsibility to help.


Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at: jrichardson@pressherald.com


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