Maine poll: GOP congressional hopefuls gain ground

Posted Oct. 29, 2010, at 9:10 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 02, 2010, at 5:04 p.m.

By David Sharp

PORTLAND, Maine — Both of Maine’s congressional races have tightened into a statistical dead heat, according to a poll released Friday.

The poll commissioned by MaineToday Media shows Republican Dean Scontras leading Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree for the first time, 45 percent to 41 percent in their 1st District congressional race. In the 2nd District, Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud had 44 percent to GOP challenger Jason Levesque’s 40 percent.

There was no clear leader in either race, however, because the numbers were within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 6 percentage points. The poll of likely voters was conducted by Critical Insights.

The poll showed that undecided voters are plentiful: 11 percent of 1st District respondents were undecided and 14 percent were undecided in the 2nd District.

GOP spokesman Lance Dutson was encouraged. “What we see from the legislative races to the top of the ticket is what we’re seeing in these numbers: Mainers are ready for a change,” Dutson said Friday.

Democrats attacked the poll’s veracity. Pingree’s campaign said the sample appeared to be weighed heavily toward Republicans even though Democrats outnumber Republicans in Maine. They also noted that the

sample size was smaller than Pingree internal polls showing Pingree leading Scontras.

Michaud’s campaign also indicated the poll was out of whack compared with its internal polls showing a sizable lead for Michaud, who’s seeking his fifth term.

Arden Manning, Democratic campaign manager, said he felt that the sample size — around 300 voters in each of the congressional districts — was too small. He also said he wasn’t overly concerned about the outcome in the governor’s race, with a sample of more than 600, because polls “have been all over the place.”

“From a Democrat’s perspective, we’re not taking anything for granted,” Manning said. “We’re working to make sure Democrats get out and vote.”

The poll also looked at a referendum proposal for what would be Maine’s first casino to offer table games in addition to slot machines. It showed that 52 percent of respondents want the casino, which would be located in Oxford County, while 43 percent oppose it.

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