Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Sara Gideon gets a tour of ReVision Energy in South Portland on Friday. The Maine House speaker led Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, by eight percentage points in a Bangor Daily News-Digital Research poll released on Tuesday. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Democrats have healthy leads in Maine’s major races, with House Speaker Sara Gideon holding a 5-percentage point advantage over U.S. Sen. Susan Collins among likely voters and the party’s edge over Republicans extending down the ballot, according to a new poll.

The Bangor Daily News-Digital Research poll surveyed 500 registered voters between July 28 and Aug. 9. The sample was split equally between Maine’s two congressional districts and by those reached by phone and online. The margin of error in the survey was 4.4 percentage points.

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A hard path for Susan Collins and 5 other takeaways from the BDN’s Maine poll

Democrats are leading in Maine’s major races, according to a Bangor Daily News-Digital Research poll conducted in late July and early August.

The margins in the poll were roughly in line with several similar polls conducted in Maine over the past few weeks. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, led President Donald Trump by 8 points among registered voters statewide, though he had only a 1-point lead in the 2nd District over Trump, who won the district in 2016.

In the highly watched U.S. Senate race, 43 percent of likely voters said they were backing Gideon compared to 38 percent for Collins. Gideon’s lead grew to 8 points among all registered voters and shrank to 3 points among only voters who said they were absolutely certain they would vote. Other races showed less of a disparity between registered and likely voters.

Among registered voters, Lisa Savage, a former Green party candidate running as an independent, picked up 5 percent of the vote. The poll did not include independent candidate Max Linn, who announced he was leaving the race shortly before the poll began but later decided to stay in. Their race will use ranked-choice voting.

Gideon also held an advantage over Collins when it came to second-choice votes among Savage supporters. The Senate race also showed splits along demographic lines, with Gideon performing especially well with women and college-educated voters while Collins led among voters with only a high school education and those living in the 2nd District.

The 2nd District is likely to receive particular attention this fall, as Trump won its one electoral vote by 10 points in 2016, but freshman Rep. Jared Golden narrowly ousted an incumbent Republican two years later. Collins, of Bangor, will be looking to put up a healthy margin in the district to offset a likely loss in the more liberal 1st District.

Golden was 9 points ahead of former state Rep. Dale Crafts among registered voters. The poll suggests it would not be a surprise to see some ticket-splitting between the three contested races in the independent-minded district, as Collins and Biden also led, though both the Senate and presidential races were within a few points and nearly a quarter of voters remain undecided in each race.

In the solidly liberal 1st Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, looks poised to cruise to another term, with 48 percent of voters saying they planned to vote for her compared to only 21 percent for her challenger, Waldoboro physician Jay Allen.

Democratic advantages extended down the ballot, with 45 percent of respondents in the poll saying they planned to vote for Democratic candidates in local or state legislative races, while only 37 percent planned to vote for Republicans.

The poll also found that Sen. Angus King, a former two-term governor re-elected easily in 2018, remained the most popular elected official in Maine, with 55 percent of voters approving of his performance while 23 percent disapproved. Gov. Janet Mills also remained popular, with 54 percent of respondents approving of her performance and 33 percent disapproving.

Collins remains underwater, as she has been in polls over the past year, with 37 percent of voters approving of her performance while 49 percent disapproved. Maine’s senior senator has seen her popularity drop significantly since the start of Trump’s presidency, with 60 percent of voters saying their opinion of her had grown more negative over the past few years while only 15 percent said their view of her had grown more positive.

Both Golden and Pingree remain relatively popular, though a third of voters in each district did not have an opinion on them. Forty-five percent of respondents approved of Pingree with 23 percent disapproving and 40 percent approved of Golden with 27 percent disapproving. 

This poll of 500 likely Maine voters was paid for by the Bangor Daily News and conducted between the dates of July 28 and Aug. 9 by Digital Research/Critical Insights, a Portland-based firm. You can view the questions and full breakdown of the political portion of the poll here.