AUGUSTA — Just three days from Election Day, Republican Paul LePage has a commanding lead in Maine’s race for governor, according to the latest results of The Maine Poll.

In a race that once was close, the poll shows LePage trouncing the competition, with support from 40 percent of respondents. Democrat Libby Mitchell and independent Eliot Cutler are tied at 21 percent, according to the poll.

Independent candidates Shawn Moody and Kevin Scott are at 4 percent and 1 percent, respectively.
About 11 percent of voters are undecided, according to the poll.

In the latest poll, done by Critical Insights for MaineToday Media, live interviewers surveyed 621 likely voters across Maine on Wednesday and Thursday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

A Maine Poll released about two weeks ago showed LePage at 34 percent, Mitchell at 29 percent and Cutler at 13 percent, with about 18 percent of voters undecided.

“Poll after poll is showing that Paul’s message of job creation and change is resonating, and now we just have to get our voters to the polls, and Paul’s supporters are extremely motivated and we have no doubt that we are going to get a huge turnout from our supporters,” said Dan Demeritt, spokesman for the LePage campaign.

Another poll released Friday also showed LePage in front, with Cutler second and Mitchell third.

The Pan Atlantic SMS Group poll showed LePage receiving support from 37 percent of respondents, with 31 percent for Cutler and 22 percent for Mitchell. Moody was at 3 percent and Scott was at 1 percent. About 7 percent of voters were undecided in the poll.

The Pan Atlantic poll had live interviewers survey 400 likely voters statewide over three nights, from Monday to Wednesday. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. It was conducted independently of any campaign.

The pollster, Patrick Murphy, is a Democrat. His wife, Victoria, is a director of Pan Atlantic and a former chairwoman of the Maine Democratic Party.

The Cutler camp was encouraged by the Pan Atlantic poll and its own polling.

“It is now clearly a two-person race between Eliot Cutler and Paul LePage,” said Ted O’Meara, campaign manager for Cutler. “I think people are almost as sick of the polls as they are the negative ads, so let’s just let the people decide now. We’re confident that with the momentum we’ve got, that Eliot is going to end up the next governor of Maine.”

Dave Loughran, spokesman for the Mitchell campaign, said the polls are all over the map.

“There’s still a televised debate, there’s still President Clinton coming to town (Sunday). Turnout is going to be key,” he said. “We think that voters are still looking at all the candidates and that they’ll decide that Libby is the best candidate to lead Maine.”

Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, said the polls released over the past two days show a couple of clear trends.

“The story is, Paul LePage is still in front. How much he’s in front is unclear, but we can certainly say he’s got a lead outside the margin of error,” he said.

The candidate with the most momentum is Cutler, Brewer said, while Mitchell appears to be fading.
“Eliot Cutler is on the move here, in the right direction, on the rise,” he said. “It’s hard to see much reason for optimism in these numbers if you are in the Mitchell camp.”

According to Nate Silver, a statistician who blogs for The New York Times, LePage has an 84 percent chance of winning.

“It certainly seems, then, that the race is Mr. LePage’s to lose,” Silver wrote in a post Friday. “I would caution that the model has to do a lot of guesswork with respect to three-way races, which haven’t been common in the past … If anything, though, I suspect that Mr. LePage’s chances are a bit better than 84 percent – although also, that Mr. Cutler’s are at least somewhat better than the near-zero chance that our model gives him.”

MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at:
[email protected]