AUGUSTA, Maine — A recent poll suggests Maine voters may reverse their 2009 decision and legalize same-sex marriage this fall.
A survey conducted by North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling of 1,256 Mainers over the weekend revealed that 54 percent believe same-sex marriage should be legal. Forty-one percent said Maine should not allow gay couples to wed.
In November, voters will be asked for the second time in three years how they feel about an issue that has become a wedge in many states across the country.
When asked a question that is similar to what will be on the ballot — “Do you favor a law allowing marriage licenses for same-sex couples that protects religious freedom by ensuring no religion or clergy be required to perform such a marriage in violation of their religious beliefs?” — 47 percent of those polled said yes, 32 percent said no and 21 percent were not sure.
“It looks like Maine will reverse its 2009 vote on gay marriage this fall,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “That’s symbolic of the shift in public opinion that’s occurred on this issue over the last few years.”
The poll was conducted in tandem with a survey of the U.S. Senate race in Maine in the wake of Olympia Snowe’s decision to forgo reelection to a fourth term.
The PPP survey skewed slightly Democratic. Of those polled, 43 percent identified themselves as Democrats, 34 percent as Republicans and 23 percent as unenrolled. The poll also had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent.
The poll also showed Maine Gov. Paul LePage with a 52 percent disapproval rating, down from a similar PPP poll conducted last fall.
If the 2010 gubernatorial election was held now, independent Eliot Cutler had support of 43 percent polled, followed by LePage (35 percent) and Democrat Libby Mitchell (19 percent).
The poll predicted that Democrats are in strong position to make gains in the state Legislature. Fifty-one percent said they would generally vote for Democratic candidates if the election were held today, compared with 37 percent of voters who preferred a Republican candidate.
Among independent voters, 42 percent say they would vote for Democrats and 28 percent say they would vote for a Republican.
The House and Senate are both controlled by Republicans for the first time in several decades.