It’s all candidates across the state can talk about and it’s very obviously what is on citizens’ minds.

It’s the economy, stupid.

According to the latest Maine Poll results, Maine voters are most worried about the lack of jobs and the overall state of the economy.

Nearly half of all respondents said the biggest problem facing Maine is unemployment, jobs or job security, according to the poll conducted by Critical Insights for MaineToday Media.

The poll surveyed about 600 likely voters statewide, using live interviewers making calls on Oct. 27 and 28. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

About a quarter of respondents said the biggest problem facing Maine was the overall economy and about 20 percent said it was high taxes. Education is another top problem facing Maine, according to 13 percent of respondents.

Other issues concerning Mainers were funding and budgetary concerns, waste in state government spending, health care, unfriendly business climate, social programs and welfare, and mandates from the federal government.

Voters’ concerns with these issues also translate to support for certain gubernatorial candidates, according to the polling data.

The most recent Maine Poll showed Republican Paul Le- Page led the field, receiving support from about 40 percent of respondents. Democrat Libby Mitchell and Eliot Cutler were tied, with support from about 21 percent of respondents each.

Independents Shawn Moody and Kevin Scott received support from about 4 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

About 11 percent of Maine voters are still undecided, according to the poll.

Unemployment concerns were tops for about half of those who said they support LePage, Mitchell and Cutler. But taxes were the top concern for 30 percent of LePage supporters, compared with 14 percent of Cutler’s and 9 percent of Mitchell’s.

More LePage supporters also said their top concern was budget issues or government waste than those of Cutler or Mitchell.

Respondents supporting Cut-ler and Mitchell were more likely to cite education as the biggest problem facing the state.

When asked why they thought the state of Maine was in debt, about one-third of respondents said wasteful spending, 13 percent said state leadership, 12 percent said spending on welfare or social programs, 9 percent said lack of businesses, 7 percent said the bad economy and 7 percent said mismanagement or a lack of accountability.

Other reasons cited were poor planning, unemployment or lack of jobs, health care costs, and bonds or debt from prior bonding.

LePage supporters were more likely than Mitchell or Cutler supporters to blame Maine’s debt on wasteful spending, state leadership, or spending on social programs or welfare.

About 40 percent of Le- Page supporters cited wasteful spending as the top reason Maine is in debt, compared with 31 percent for Mitchell and 27 percent for Cutler. About 18 percent of LePage supporters blame state leadership, compared to 11 percent for Cutler and 5 percent for Mitchell. And about 16 percent of LePage supporters blame social programs or welfare, compared to 9 percent for Cutler and 6 percent for Mitchell.

Only 2 percent of LePage’s supporters blame Maine’s debt on the economy, compared to 11 percent for Mitchell and 9 percent for Cutler.

LePage supporters were also more likely to agree with the statement that Maine is not a good place to start or operate a business than Mitchell or Cutler supporters.

Overall, a little more than half of those polled agreed that Maine is not a good place to start or operate a business versus about one-third who disagreed.

Of those who agreed Maine is a bad place to do business, about two-thirds of respondents cited state and local taxes as a reason, with another third citing the regulatory process.

Other reasons for a poor business climate were environmental regulations, labor costs, worker’s compensation costs, health care costs, the availability of qualified labor, and transportation and infrastructure, according to respondents, who gave more than one answer.

Nearly three-quarters of Le-Page supporters agreed Maine is not a good place to start or own a business, compared to about half of Cutler supporters and about one-third of Mitchell supporters.

Looking past Election Day, about one-third of voters said they want a new governor to reduce unemployment. Respondents said they also want the new governor to improve the economy, reduce taxes, reduce government waste, reform welfare, improve education and create a more business-friendly climate.

 

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