PORTLAND, Maine — A new poll shows that Barack Obama has a 19-point lead over John McCain in Maine and that Republican Sen. Susan Collins maintains a 17-point lead over Democratic challenger Tom Allen.
The independent poll released Tuesday by Market Decisions also shows that a referendum question asking Mainers if they want to allow a casino to be built in Oxford County is too close to call.
With a week left before Election Day, the poll says 54 percent of those surveyed were for Obama, with 33 percent for McCain. Fifty-four percent were for Collins, and 37 percent for Allen. On the casino question, 49 percent said they were for a casino and 48 percent were opposed.
The poll found that 87 percent of likely voters who were surveyed were dissatisfied with the way things are going in the U.S., said Curtis Mildner, president of Market Decisions. Fifty-seven percent of those who said they were dissatisfied were for Obama, and 28 percent were for McCain; 15 percent were for someone else or undecided.
The presidential election a year ago was expected to be a referendum on the war in Iraq, but has since turned into a referendum on the economy, Mildner said. Either way, Obama’s message of change has caught on with voters, he said.
“A year ago it was the war in Iraq people wanted to change. Now it’s the economy people want to change,” Mildner said. “The fact that so many people are dissatisfied says ‘regime change,’ regardless of the issue.”
Market Decisions, a Portland-based research firm, conducted the telephone survey of 425 people between Oct. 13 and 26. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.
In the Senate race, the poll found that Collins leads Allen among those who are dissatisfied with the way things are going. Of the likely voters who said they were dissatisfied, 50 percent were for Collins and 40 percent for Allen.
The poll results suggest a tight race on the casino referendum. Less than 4 percent of those surveyed were undecided.
Mildner said voters apparently are being influenced by the large amount of advertising in support of a casino. Olympia Gaming of Las Vegas is proposing to build a $184 million resort casino in Oxford that would have slot machines and table games. The company says the casino would have 800 employees.
The poll also showed strong support a referendum question that would do away with a newly passed tax on beer, wine, soda and other beverages that would help fund the state’s Dirigo Health program.
Sixty-six percent of those polled said they favored repealing the tax, with 28 percent against a repeal.
Mildner said repeal supporters have run an effective grass-roots campaign with posters and campaign signs at convenience stores, bars and restaurants.
“I think the difference in the campaign has been the level of advertising in support of the referendum,” he said. “It’s everywhere.”