Democrats are leading in each of Maine’s three biggest races, according to a new poll, with House Speaker Sara Gideon, 2nd District Rep. Jared Golden and former Vice President Joe Biden holding leads with a little over three months until Election Day.
The poll, released Tuesday by Colby College, surveyed 888 Maine voters between July 18 and 24. It had a margin of error of 3.9 percent.
The poll had Gideon with 44 percent of the vote compared to 39 percent for incumbent Sen. Susan Collins, while 6 percent of voters said they planned to vote for a third-party candidate and 12 percent were undecided. It is one of several public polls over the past few months to show Gideon with a narrow lead. Colby’s own poll in February showed the two virtually tied.
Maine’s U.S. Senate race is among the most closely watched in the country. Former Green Party candidate Lisa Savage and pro-Trump conservative Max Linn will be on the ballot along with Gideon and Collins in November in the ranked-choice race.
Among respondents in the 2nd District, 45 percent planned to vote for Golden, the freshman congressman from Lewiston, while 33 percent planned to support former state Rep. Dale Crafts of Lisbon, the Republican nominee. Golden’s support was strongest among younger voters, with 56 percent of those under the age of 35 saying they planned to vote for him.
Forty-two percent of voters in the poll had a favorable opinion of Collins, while 52 percent had an unfavorable opinion. The Republican senator was ahead of President Donald Trump, who 39 percent of respondents viewed favorably compared to 59 percent unfavorably, but roughly in line with former Gov. Paul LePage.
Gideon was more popular, with 46 percent of voters holding a favorable opinion of her while 36 percent held an unfavorable opinion. Among voters who said they would not vote for Collins, 42 percent said they would be voting affirmatively for Gideon, while another 39 percent said their motivations were to vote against Collins.
Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, was viewed favorably by 51 percent of voters, while 44 percent had an unfavorable opinion. In a head-to-head matchup, 50 percent of respondents said they plan to vote for Biden in the general election, while 38 percent said they planned to vote for Trump.
Biden also put up a decent showing in the 2nd District, which Trump carried by 10 points in 2016. He led Trump by 3 percentage points, with 45 percent saying they planned to vote for the former vice president while 42 percent planned to vote for Trump. The president particularly struggled among women voters, those under the age of 35 or over the age of 65 and voters who had completed a four-year degree.
The poll also showed that Gov. Janet Mills — who has been criticized by Republicans over tourism restrictions aiming to prevent the coronavirus — remained popular, with 59 percent of voters seeing her favorably and only 35 percent viewing her unfavorably. Those were comparable numbers to an April poll from Critical Insights.
Mills’ coronavirus response also got good marks, with 59 percent saying they thought the governor moved at the right speed in reopening Maine’s economy, while 27 percent said they thought she moved too slow and 11 percent said she moved too fast.
LePage, who has said he will likely run against Mills in 2022, was less popular, with 43 percent of respondents holding a favorable view of him, while 50 percent held an unfavorable view.
Coronavirus remained at the top of voters’ minds, with 71 percent saying it was a serious health problem in the United States, while 60 percent said it was an important health issue in Maine. Maine is one of a handful of states that has managed to avoid rising virus cases this summer.
A vast majority of votes — 64 percent — said they were supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement, which had advocated for addressing racial injustice in policing and other systems. But only 43 percent were supportive of shifting funds in their community from police to other social programs, while 47 percent did not support such a reallocation.