September 28, 2012

July Poll: A third of Mainers losing ground financially

Cost-of-living increases and limited job options take a toll, just some of the economic concerns on voters' minds.

By Eric Russell
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Today's poll: Are you better off?

Is your economic situation better or worse than it was two years ago?



View Results

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Alex Hebert, 21, of Biddeford is laying brick this summer before the beginning of his senior year at UNE. He said the sluggish economy hasn’t hit him as hard as it has his parents.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Suna Waken, 23, of Portland works at a cafe on Marginal Way but wants to be a teacher. “I really wanted to establish myself by 30. ... I just feel like it should be a little easier,” she said.

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Beverly Schweitzer, 56, of Richmond fits into all three categories. She's out of work because of a disability, but she's worried less for herself and more for many of her struggling family members.

Schweitzer said she's hopeful that things will rebound but, unlike some other Republicans, she doesn't blame President Obama.

"The president just doesn't have control over some of these things," she said.

York agreed and said it's unfair to think that a president, or any high-ranking politician, "can snap their fingers and fix the economy."

Still, Obama's support in Maine is softest among those who consider their personal situation to be worse. And 77 percent of Romney's supporters said the economy and jobs have a major impact on their vote, compared with only 60 percent of Obama's supporters.

Those who said things are better now than two years ago said the main reason is that they got a new job or a better job.

Alex Hebert, 21, of Biddeford will be a senior at the University of New England in the fall. This summer, he's laying brick. He said the sluggish economy hasn't hit him as hard as it has his parents, but he hasn't had to look for a steady job yet.

"Come talk to me in a year," he said.

There's no shortage of opinions on how to improve the economy. Tackling taxes and government spending usually top the list.

More than half of those surveyed said the country should spend more on education and infrastructure, even if that means raising taxes.

The breakdown was predictable -- 61 percent of Republicans favored lowering taxes and cutting spending, while 72 percent of Democrats favored spending more and raising taxes. Unenrolled voters -- the largest bloc in Maine -- were more likely to favor more spending and taxes. Households with income greater than $100,000 were less likely to favor raising spending and taxes.

Melcher, at UMaine-Farmington, said people tend to like spending cuts in the abstract, but like them less when talk turns to particulars.

There was less disparity in the poll about who should be taxed more. Seventy percent were in favor of changing the federal tax structure to ask wealthy Americans to pay more. That number is in line with national polling numbers.

"For top earners, there is no reason you shouldn't pay more," said Lucas Butler, 22, a Democrat and a recent college graduate from Caribou who is still looking for a job.

McGowan, the car salesman and registered Republican, cautioned against increasing taxes, even on the rich.

"They are the ones creating jobs," he said. "More taxes are going to hurt businesses and force them to cut jobs, not add them." Schweitzer, of Richmond, fell somewhere in the middle.

"I think we need to raise some taxes and cut some spending," she said. "It needs to be both. Right now, it seems like nothing is happening."

Staff Writer Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

Twitter: @PPHEricRussell

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Jim Cannon, 43, a freelance graphic designer from Windham, said he thinks the economy is better but still has room for improvement. He keeps getting jobs, but on a contract basis.


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Today's poll: Are you better off?

Is your economic situation better or worse than it was two years ago?



View Results