The University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll contains two interesting data points that, at first glance, may seem to conflict with one another.

One question shows that less than five months from Election Day, Mainers are largely undecided about the governor’s race. Only 34 percent definitely know whom they will vote for, while 18 percent are leaning toward a specific candidate. Another 48 percent are still trying to decide.

A second question asked respondents whom they would vote for if the election was held today. It shows U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud leading Gov. Paul LePage, 40 percent to 36 percent, and Eliot Cutler in third place with 15 percent. Another 7 percent said they were undecided.

Why isn’t the percentage of undecided voters higher in the second question, if 48 percent of respondents to the first question said they haven’t made up their mind?

Two reasons, according to Andrew Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center.

The question showing that 48 percent of respondents haven’t made up their minds reflects the influence of two factors. One, Smith said, is that Cutler is giving many anti-LePage voters a second option to consider in November.


The second, and equally important, is that it’s June and not that many people are as engaged in the race as they will be this fall.

“If you ask people in June if they know who they’re going to vote for, most people will say ‘no,’ ” Smith said. “Some of them may not even know who the candidates are. That question is really designed to give us a real understanding of where the electorate is. That’s really important because we tend to think that people are paying as much attention to this race as (the media) and I are because we have to. But voters have other things to worry about.”

He added, “We’re dealing with people that don’t think about this stuff that much, and frankly, don’t care that much about it.”

Smith said the “horse race” question essentially forces respondents to make a choice by adding the phrase, “if the election was being held today.”

“That doesn’t mean that they’re going to vote that way in November,” he said.

Another fact: Among likely voters who say they have definitely decided whom they will support, LePage leads Michaud, 53 percent to 43 percent. Just 4 percent of those who have definitely decided support Cutler.

– Steve Mistler

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