With less than two weeks until the election, a new poll shows U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin and Democratic challenger Emily Cain virtually tied – again – in the race to represent Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

Cain leads Poliquin 43 percent to 42 percent, with 11 percent of likely voters undecided and 4 percent choosing to vote for another candidate, according to the most recent poll from the Maine Sunday Telegram and the University of New Hampshire. Conducted from Oct. 20 to Oct. 25, the poll surveyed 341 likely voters in the 2nd District and has a margin of error of 3.8 percent.

Those numbers represent a substantial swing in Cain’s favor from a September poll that showed Poliquin ahead of her by 10 points, but they also fall in line with a June poll that produced similar results showing the candidates to be virtually tied.

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

The 2016 rematch is the most expensive U.S. House race in Maine history, drawing more than $12 million in candidate contributions and outside spending. Poliquin now has a $70,000 fundraising advantage over Cain and has spent less than she has, maintaining a lead of more than $800,000 in cash on hand.

Along with a close congressional race, the poll also showed a narrowing race between presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the 2nd District and an increase in voters reporting that Poliquin’s refusal to comment on or endorse Trump means they are less likely to vote for him.


As the election nears, voters appear to have stronger feelings about both 2nd District candidates, with both seeing increases in favorability and unfavorability ratings. In the most recent poll, both candidates held favorability ratings of 35 percent, while more voters had an unfavorable opinion of Poliquin than they did of Cain.

Forty-two percent of voters viewed Poliquin unfavorably, compared to 36 percent for Cain; but more voters also said they didn’t know how they felt about Cain, at 22 percent, while just 14 percent were unsure about Poliquin.

Matthew Newman, a Democrat from Garland who participated in the recent poll, said he plans to vote for Cain because he sees her positions as being more in tune with the current political climate and in a better position to address the “unbridled racism” that has risen in national rhetoric. He also said he is skeptical of Poliquin’s touting himself as a businessman.

“I tend to veer away from people who say, ‘I have business experience, so I can run government,’ ” said Newman, 43. “I’ve held small positions in town government, and from what I’ve seen, that isn’t always true.”

Jon Cavanaugh, a registered Republican from New Vineyard who was a poll respondent, said he plans to vote for Poliquin because he’s done a good job as a first-term congressman and he doesn’t see a reason to change.

“I haven’t seen anything from Emily Cain that would give me a reason to change,” said Cavanaugh, 67. “I think it will be fairly close, but I hope Bruce wins.”


Both candidates have a strong hold within their parties, with the support of about 80 percent of registered voters. Poliquin has a slight lead among those who identified as independent, but the candidates were basically tied among unenrolled voters.

The race also stands to be influenced by the presidential race, with Republican nominee Trump looking to pick up at least one of Maine’s four electoral votes in the 2nd District.

Clinton now leads Trump by three percentage points in the 2nd District, polling at 43 percent compared to his 40 percent. That’s a 17-point swing from the September poll, which showed Trump ahead of the Democratic nominee by 14 points in the 2nd District.

Meanwhile, 18 percent of voters said the fact that Poliquin has not endorsed Trump publicly makes them less likely to vote for him, while 78 percent said it makes little difference. In September, 12 percent of voters said they wouldn’t support Poliquin because he hadn’t voiced support for Trump, while 80 percent said it made little difference.

Gail Cates, a registered Democrat from Moscow who said she identifies more as an independent, said she will vote for Poliquin and it doesn’t bother her that he hasn’t commented on Trump.

“That’s his own opinion. It doesn’t matter,” said Cates, 62.


The poll showed that 56 percent of 2nd District voters, like Cain, support a minimum-wage increase, while 37 percent are opposed. Poliquin has not commented on the issue but said in a debate on WAGM-TV that he is “not consumed with this issue about forcing a specific wage on businesses” and that he doesn’t want to see labor costs rise.

But Cain also supports universal background checks on the sale or loan of guns, while Poliquin has said he is against them. Cain has only 33 percent support among gun owners in the 2nd District, according to the new poll.

Voters in the district are nearly divided in their support for universal background checks, with 49 percent against the measure and 47 percent in support.


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