More than 40 percent of Maine respondents to a national survey said the coronavirus pandemic is the most important issue facing the country and more than half described the virus as “not at all under control.”

Additionally, 60 percent of Maine participants in The Associated Press’s national VoteCast survey disapproved of President Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, while 69 percent approved of how Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has responded to the crisis.

The results from Maine appear to mirror the national sentiment, at least when it comes to the top concerns on voters’ minds as they headed to the polls on Tuesday or were awaiting results after casting their ballots early.

Among the 1,859 Mainers who participated in AP’s survey, 43 percent listed the coronavirus pandemic as the most important issue facing the country, compared to 42 percent of respondents nationwide. Twenty-six percent of Maine respondents listed the economy and jobs as their top concern compared to 27 percent nationwide, while health care was the most important issue for 10 percent of Mainers and 9 percent nationally.

Conducted in all 50 states by NORC at the University of Chicago, the VoteCast survey expects to poll an estimated 140,000 registered voters between Oct. 26 and when the polls close on Tuesday. Participants could answer the questions by phone, by mail or online. The Maine results had a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

The results, both in Maine and nationally, show an electorate deeply concerned about the coronavirus pandemic, as infection rates once again surge, as well as strong frustration with the direction of the national economy.


In Maine, just 17 percent of respondents said they believed COVID-19 was “completely’ or “mostly” under control compared to 55 percent who described the virus as “not at all under control.” Among a smaller group of 448 respondents in Maine, 65 percent said the federal government should place a higher priority on limiting the spread of the coronavirus “even if it damages the economy,” while 31 percent favored the government limiting damage to the economy even it meant a worsening virus.

Mainers were much more likely to approve of how Mills or the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, had responded to the pandemic (69 percent and 79 percent, respectively) than the president (39 percent)

Additionally, nearly six in 10 survey participants in Maine disapproved of Trump’s overall job performance as president – a statistic that would seem to support consistent polling showing the president trailing Democrat Joe Biden in the state by double digits. On the question of honesty, 62 percent of respondents said they did not believe Trump was “honest and trustworthy” versus 42 percent who lacked trust in Biden.

The Maine respondents had more confidence in Biden’s ability to handle the coronavirus than Trump (58 percent versus 30 percent) but were almost equally split on who would better handle the economy, with Trump edging his Democratic opponent 46 percent to 45 percent.

The initial batch of VoteCast survey results released Tuesday night by the AP did not contain results on how respondents voted or planned to vote in the presidential election or Maine’s high-profile Senate race between Republican Sen. Susan Collins, Democrat Sara Gideon and independents Lisa Savage and Max Linn. But the results did include responses to questions about whether participants viewed candidates favorably or unfavorably, in general.

Collins, who is seeking a fifth six-year term in the Senate, was viewed very or somewhat unfavorably by 53 percent of the 1,843 respondents, while 34 percent had a somewhat or very favorable opinion of the senator. Gideon, meanwhile, was viewed favorably by 49 percent of respondents and unfavorably by 46 percent, with 3 percent undecided.

In another indication of Collins’ challenge with Maine voters this year, 54 percent of the more than 1,800 respondents said the senator supports Trump “too much” while 14 percent viewed her as offering the president “too little” support, with roughly one-third indicating she supported him “about the right amount.”

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