October 2, 2012

Poll Analysis: King still the front-runner, but lead erodes

A statewide survey also finds strong backing for same-sex marriage and a growing lead for Obama.

By John Richardson jrichardson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 3)

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Michael Wingfield of Portland: “Gay or straight, we all have a right to marriage.”

Photos by John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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Jennifer James of Shapleigh: “(Political attack ads are) awful. (The parties) just degrade each other. It doesn’t make either side look good."

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

It follows a similar poll conducted in June and was designed to measure trends in opinions and voter sentiments and track the rise and fall of candidates and campaigns. In both cases, the polls produced more than 100 pages of data tables which the Press Herald analyzed to produce articles, print and online graphics and to guide coverage of the elections.

For the latest poll, Critical Insights called 618 likely voters around the state from Sept. 12 through Sept. 16. It used random landlines and cellphones and conducted live personal interviews. An additional 100 women were polled to provide deeper data on women's perspectives on key issues.

The results were statistically weighted to reflect the demographics of the state's voting population. Results were weighted by gender, age, region of residence and political affiliation.

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.


TODAY: Key poll results in the election for president, the U.S. Senate, Congress and the same-sex marriage referendum.

MONDAY: The same-sex marriage poll results and returns from the 2009 repeal referendum suggest where the battlegrounds lie across Maine.

TUESDAY: Sharp distinctions that reflect “the two Maines” concept emerge from poll results in the 1st and 2nd congressional districts.


If the poll results hold through Nov. 6, Maine could become the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in a statewide referendum. (Three other states -- Maryland, Minnesota and Washington -- also will vote on that question Nov. 6.)

No one expects the 21-point lead to last, however. Maine has proven to be narrowly divided on gay marriage in past elections.

And, even with a strong lead, the issue is clearly dividing Maine voters along partisan, social and economic lines. The polls says:

81 percent of Democrats said they would vote "yes," while 64 percent of Republicans say they would vote "no."

86 percent of Obama supporters back same-sex marriage, while 75 percent of Romney supporters oppose it.

79 percent of King supporters back same-sex marriage, while 77 percent of Summers supporters oppose it.

69 percent of college graduates support the referendum, while 56 percent of people with a high school education or less oppose it.

77 percent of 18- to 34-year-old voters support it, while 50 percent of voters over 65 oppose it.

"I grew up traditional. That's the way I look at it," said 50-year-old Marc Roy, an independent voter from Biddeford who plans to vote "no."

Eric Moynihan, a 58-year-old independent voter from Yarmouth, said he will vote "yes" on same-sex marriage and believes it will win this time because of the strong support so far.

"I'm pretty confident that gay people can have strong marriages and are strong citizens," said Moynihan.

Michael Wingfield, a 57-year-old musician from Portland, said he will vote "yes," too. "Gay or straight, we all have a right to marriage."


The races for Maine's two seats in Congress have seen little change since June, according to the poll.

That is no surprise given the low-key campaigning, especially in the 1st District. Both candidates in the 2nd District have taken their campaigns to the television airwaves, but the ads began too late for any effect on the Critical Insights poll.

Voters who participated in the poll said they haven't paid as much attention yet to the congressonal races. Support falls closely among party lines, according to the poll.

"I am not a huge fan of Chellie Pingree. She's just too liberal for me," said Kathy Hodge, a Republican from Lebanon who plans to vote for Courtney.

John Bernard of South Portland, like most Democrats, is a fan. "I think she's done well. I have a lot of respect for Chellie," he said.

Michaud and Raye each have strong support from their parties in the 2nd District, although Michaud's is stronger. Michaud also is supported by more than half of independent voters and 20 percent of Republicans, the poll says.

Pingree is married to S. Donald Sussman, majority share owner of The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:


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Eric Moynihan of Yarmouth: “I’m pretty confident that gay people can have strong marriages and are strong citizens.”


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