Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is poised to win one of Maine’s electoral votes if the results of a poll released Thursday hold true through the Nov. 6 election.
The Maine Democratic Party quickly criticized the poll’s results because of high-level Republican operatives behind it and the fact that the raw poll data have not been released.
Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, in the northern part of the state, supports Romney over President Barack Obama by 5 percentage points, 49 percent to 44 percent, a result that according to a story by Politico is outside the NMB Research poll’s margin of error. On a statewide basis, Obama leads 48 percent to 44 percent, which means he would get two of Maine’s four electoral votes. Obama also presumably would win the 1st District, giving him a third electoral vote in Maine.
Maine is one of only two states in the country that splits its electoral vote by congressional district. If Romney wins in the north, he would receive one of Maine’s four electoral votes, which given the closeness of the race conceivably could tip the results in Romney’s favor. According to a New York Times polling analysis blog called FiveThirtyEight, the probability that Maine’s 2nd Congressional District could decide the election stood at 0.7 percent as of Thursday, a scenario that ranked 10th as a probable outcome among battleground states. The likelihood that the electoral vote could be decided in first-place Ohio, by comparison, was about 44 percent, according to the blog. Maine has not voted for a Republican in a presidential election since 1988.
Politico reports that Glen Bolger of NMB Research polled 500 likely voters on Oct. 7 and 8, giving the poll a margin of error of about 4 percent. It was unknown how many of the people polled were from the 2nd District.
NMB Research, based in Alexandria, Va., is known to have done hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of survey research for a pro-Romney super-PAC, Restore our Future. According to NBC News, the firm doesn’t list any owners or partners but is located next door to Public Opinion Strategies in Virginia, a partner in which, Neil Newhouse, is Romney’s chief pollster. NBC News reported in March that mail for NMB Research is delivered to Public Opinion Strategies.
Lizzy Reinholt, spokeswoman for the Maine Democratic Party, called NMB Research’s results, which were widely different from what other public polls have shown, highly suspect.
“This was a leaked poll from a super-PAC controlled by [prominent Republican campaign strategist] Karl Rove,” said Reinholt. “Our own polling is light years different, which is why I don’t trust it. Without knowing the methodology there’s no way to know how they did the polling. The notion that Romney would have jumped that much so quickly, that’s enough to know there’s a trouble sign in the polling methodology.”
Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster said Friday that Romney’s lead in northern Maine didn’t surprise him and that he has expected Romney to do well there for several months.
“I’ve believed that from the beginning,” said Webster. “Even three months ago our numbers kept getting better and better.”
Asked how likely it would be for Maine to vote Republican in the presidential race after 24 years of voting Democrat, Webster said “Maine hadn’t elected a Republican Legislature for 38 years before the last time, either.”
In late September, polls by well-known firms Pan Atlantic SMS and Rasmussen Reports showed Obama with a lead of 14 and 12 percentage points, respectively.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Mitt Romney stands to gain two electoral votes by winning Maine's 2nd Congressional District. He stands to gain one.