Poll numbers and election results look so much alike people tend to confuse them. But there are enough big differences that we should never forget what we are looking at when we see the latest numbers.

There are no “undecided” votes on Election Day. Real voters, as opposed to survey participants, have to pick a candidate.

And there is no margin of error when the votes are counted, just a winner and some losers. But there is such a margin in the best of polls.

Then what conclusion should we draw from the Critical Insights Poll conducted for MaineToday Media? This governor’s race is just starting.

The headlines have focused on Democrat Libby Mitchell’s slight lead on Republican Paul LePage, who had been shown to be well ahead in every previous poll. The three independent candidates, Eliot Cutler, Shawn Moody and Kevin Scott, don’t appear to be making any headway as serious contenders.

Running a close third in the contest, however, is a candidate who will not be appearing on the ballot, the one named “don’t know.” Of the likely voters questioned by pollsters Monday, 26 percent say they are undecided about whom to vote for, with just over a month left before the election.

That makes this important election a wide-open contest, and the pressure is on the candidates to use what little time they have left to show us what kind of governor they would be if they got the most votes in the real poll on Election Day.

The pressure is on them, but not just on them. Over the next four weeks it’s up to voters to recognize that this race is still to be decided and one of these five candidates will lead the state for the next four years.

For anyone who hasn’t done so yet, it’s time to engage with the process and learn about these candidates before recording a vote for real.

That means looking at policies and proposals and determining who has the best plan. It also means looking at character and experience and determining who has the best ability to carry their plan out.

These poll numbers don’t tell us who is going to win when the votes are counted in November.

But they do tell us one thing: This race is just beginning and everybody should get involved.