Sara Gideon continued to hold a narrow lead over U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in a new Colby College poll of Maine released Wednesday also showing a close race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2nd Congressional District.
Gideon, a Democrat, received 46.6 percent of the vote, compared with 43.4 percent for Collins, a fourth-term Republican. The independent candidates in the race, Lisa Savage and Max Linn, trailed with 4.7 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively. About 3.6 percent of voters were undecided, according to the poll released six days before the Tuesday election.
The survey suggests ranked-choice voting will be a dominant factor in deciding the winner, according to Dan Shea, a Colby College government professor and lead researcher on the poll of 879 Mainers conducted from Oct. 21-25 with an error margin of 3.4 percentage points.
That process may break toward Gideon. More than half of voters who picked Savage as their first choice ranked Gideon second, with 29 percent picking Linn as their second choice and 13 percent picking Collins. The smaller group of Linn voters were less consistent in their use of ranked-choice voting, according to the poll.
The survey gave Biden, a Democrat, a 13-point lead statewide over the Republican president statewide. But the gap between Maine’s two congressional districts was big. In the more conservative 2nd District, Biden received 46 percent of votes to Trump’s 42 percent.
The president won the heavily rural district by 10 percentage points in a historic split of Maine’s electors in 2016. It has also been the subject of unprecedented campaigning late in the election cycle. Trump visited a Levant orchard on Sunday, six days after sending Vice President Mike Pence to a rally in Hermon. Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, visited for the second time on Tuesday.
“Four years ago, President Trump won Maine’s Second CD with relative ease,” Nicholas Jacobs, another Colby faculty researcher working on the poll, said in a statement accompanying the poll. “However, right now Joe Biden has a real shot at taking it away from him.”
That close race comes as Maine’s two Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives look to be in cruise control. Rep. Jared Golden of the 2nd District led former state Rep. Dale Crafts, R-Lisbon, with 56 percent of votes to the Republican’s 31 percent. Rep. Chellie Pingree of the 1st District had a wider lead over Republican newcomer Jay Allen.