Phil: OK, political science geek, what’s your take on the latest Maine Sunday Telegram poll showing the race for governor at 41 percent Michaud, 39 percent LePage, 14 percent Cutler?

Ethan: Nothing new, except it’s remarkable that Cutler’s campaign is still barely beating Tom Connolly’s 1998 total (13 percent).

Phil: Tom who?

Ethan: My point exactly. Right now, Cutler may end up closer to single digits than he will to 20 percent. But either way, he is keeping LePage in the game and may just hand him another four years.

Phil: May I say again, don’t count Cutler out. He is ahead of where he was in 2010 when people began giving him another look. The moment of truth is still coming.

Ethan: The moment of truth is here. Let me be the first pundit to say it: Put a fork in Cutler. He will not win. In 2010, the percent of undecided at this point was 26. In 2014, it is 6. At this point in 2010, Cutler had twice as much cash available as Libby and LePage. In 2014, he has a third of what those campaigns hold. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, despite two months of relentless attacks on both, Michaud and LePage’s supporters are getting firmer, not softening. According to this poll, 70 percent of the electorate is now locked in, compared to 52 percent last June. The only thing left to decide is whether Paul or Mike will be inaugurated in January.


Phil: Thirty days is a long time in politics. Pollsters tell you what voters thought yesterday, not what they will decide in a month. But speaking of Paul or Mike, one thing I noticed is that Michaud’s attacks against LePage on social security appear to be having an impact. Michaud is currently leading LePage by 12 points among seniors. His lead was only 5 among this same group in the June survey.

Ethan: Yes. It also explains why LePage is spending so much energy and money trying to reverse the self-inflicted damage of calling social security “welfare.”

Phil: But on the flip side, people in the poll heavily agree with the governor’s position that welfare often does more harm than good and that municipalities should not be giving welfare to illegal immigrants.

Ethan: Yes, but they also agree heavily with Michaud that the minimum wage should be raised. Even 59 percent of Republicans! The one who is inaugurated may be the one who wins the debate on whether this race is about welfare or wages.

Phil: While you may be willing to put a fork in Cutler, I am about ready to do the same for Emily Cain. She is down 10 percent, and that’s before the National Republican Campaign Committee started spending the $1.5 million it just injected.

Ethan: Not so fast. While the national investment is certainly a sign that Republicans think Bruce Poliquin can win, the polling I have seen outside the Telegram is much more mixed. I have seen numbers showing Cain up and I have seen numbers showing Poliquin up. But the one thing I haven’t seen is anyone with a double-digit lead. This result is an outlier and hence should be taken with a grain of salt.


Phil: Wait a minute. You believe the poll numbers when they show Cutler down, but you don’t when they show Poliquin up? Have you allowed your blue sunglasses to shade the gathering dark clouds?

Ethan: The Telegram’s numbers in the governor’s race have been confirmed numerous times by other public pollsters. Not so much in the CD2 race. That said, I acknowledge that Poliquin may be leading. Just not by that much.

Phil: Another interesting note was the generic ballot test for the state House and Senate. While you guys clearly have an advantage in the House, 42 percent to 35 percent, the margin shrinks dramatically in the Senate: 39 to 38. If there is any kind of wave this fall, the Senate presidential gavel may well return to its rightful owner: the Republicans.

Ethan: Those numbers are a bit concerning. That said, it is hard to see the math where Republicans actually take control. While a generic ballot split certainly indicates it could go either way, the Democratic ground game will easily make up 2 to 3 points.

Phil: As we both know from running successful Senate campaigns, the party ground game is important. But most important is the actual candidate. If you are strong (or weak) and you work hard, your chances of beating/riding a wave are much improved. We’re about to witness how effective each candidate has been at building networks and organizational prowess.

Ethan: Yes. Brace yourselves, gentle readers, every portal you own – phone, mail, email, newspaper, radio, television – is about to be hit with an election nor’easter!

Phil: In the end, with all due respect to our employer, all the poll really tells us today is that the fate of Maine’s public policy leaders is about as clear as a crystal ball with fake snow floating about. Well, that and the fact that Susan Collins will win.

Ethan: Wait a minute!

Phil: Sorry, out of space.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.