Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree holds a comfortable lead over a pair of Republican challengers ahead of her re-election campaign in Maine’s 1st District, according to a Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram Poll.

Pingree, a four-term incumbent, leads Mark Holbrook 56 percent to 34 percent in a head-to-head match-up. She also leads Ande Smith, 55 percent to 34 percent, according to a survey of 248 likely voters in the 1st Congressional District conducted June 15-21 by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

Although Holbrook has been declared the winner of the June primary, the margin was only 55 votes and a recount has been scheduled for later this week.

In Maine’s other congressional race, first-term incumbent Bruce Poliquin, a Republican, and Democratic challenger Emily Cain are virtually tied, the Telegram poll found.

Among 227 likely voters in Maine’s 2nd District, Poliquin had 41 percent support and Cain was just behind at 40 percent – with 12 percent undecided.

That race is a rematch of the 2014 election, which Poliquin won with 47 percent support. Cain earned 42 percent of the vote and independent Blaine Richardson finished third with 11 percent.

Both congressional races in Maine could be affected by the presidential election, which historically means higher turnout, and polarizing candidates on both sides.

Pingree’s lead over both Holbrook and Smith is bolstered by 85-87 percent support among Democrats and 55-61 percent support among independent, or unenrolled, voters.


Maine’s 1st Congressional District, which comprises York, Cumberland, Knox, Sagadahoc and Lincoln counties and parts of Kennebec County, is much more liberal than the northern, mostly rural 2nd District.

Pingree, 61, of North Haven, previously served four terms in the Maine Senate from 1992 to 2000 – the last four years as majority leader. Since being elected to the House in 2008, Pingree has not been in danger of losing her seat, and both Republican challengers have no prior political experience.

Holbrook, of Brunswick, is a professional counselor and former police officer. Smith, of North Yarmouth, is a former nuclear engineer officer aboard Navy submarines and now works as an attorney focusing on cybersecurity and technology.

One big takeaway among those polled was how unknown both Smith and Holbrook were. Asked to rate the candidates as favorable, unfavorable or don’t know, 70 percent said they didn’t know for Holbrook and 66 percent said they were unsure about Smith.

Pingree, meanwhile, had a favorability of 49 percent, and only 12 percent of those polled didn’t know.

Addie Philbrook, 81, of Vinalhaven, was among those polled. She said she thinks Pingree has done a good job in Congress and plans to vote for her again.


“I think she’s trying to help the elderly, which Maine has a lot of,” Philbrook said. “I’m a Democrat, but I don’t always vote that way. I’ve supported Susan Collins. But Pingree is far better than the Republicans I’ve seen run for that seat in recent years.”

While Pingree appears safe, Maine’s 2nd District race looks to be much closer, at least at this stage.

Poliquin, 62, a former state treasurer under Gov. Paul LePage, was elected in 2014 after the seat became vacant when former U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democrat, stepped down to run against LePage.

Cain, 36, spent 10 years in the Maine House and Senate before running for the U.S. House seat two years ago.

For a sitting congressman, Poliquin had a low favorability rating of 33 percent, according to the poll, although it was still higher than Cain’s favorability of 30 percent.

But Poliquin also held an edge in unfavorability – 32 percent viewed him unfavorably, compared to only 20 percent who felt that way about Cain. The Democrat did have a much higher percentage of those who didn’t know – 37 percent – compared to only 23 percent who are unsure about Poliquin.


Both Poliquin and Cain poll well within their respective parties, the poll found, and Poliquin has a slight edge among independent voters – 30 percent to 27 percent, although that group also is 25 percent undecided.

Roger Ryan, 36, of Belmont, is not among the undecided. He said he thinks Poliquin is much better suited to represent the 2nd District.

“I think Emily Cain is a little wacky and very liberal,” he said.

Does he think the race will be close?

“Boy, I hope not,” he said. “I’ll be sad if it’s close.”

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