With just three days left until Election Day, the gubernatorial contest is still a neck-and-neck race, and the two frontrunners will spend the last weekend of the campaign trying to open up a lead ahead of the election on Tuesday.

With four of the last five public polls showing Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud and incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage in a tie, the two rivals both have full schedules, and the parties are ramping up the get-out-the-vote machines that many believe will decide who occupies the Blaine House for the next four years.

Meanwhile, independent candidate Eliot Cutler will continue to campaign, but the strength of his candidacy was reduced greatly this week when, citing the unlikelihood of victory, he gave his supporters his blessing to vote for one of his opponents. His highest-profile supporter, U.S. Sen Angus King, switched his endorsement to Michaud almost immediately, and Cutler’s campaign has reduced its advertising on several TV stations by half.

Both LePage and Michaud have brought nationally known surrogates to rally their party faithful and ensure supporters show up when the polls open Tuesday.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told a crowd of LePage supporters in Bangor on Tuesday that they needed to make the governor their “mission” until Election Day. Christie will return to Maine on Nov. 3 for one last rally. It will mark his fifth visit to Maine to stump for LePage this election season.

In the past eight days, f ormer U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama have urged Michaud’s supporters to volunteer for the campaign’s voter turnout effort.

Turnout drives — known in political circles as GOTV, for “get out the vote” — are crucial in tight contests, especially in non-presidential election years, said Ron Schmidt, a political science professor at the University of Southern Maine.

Voter enthusiasm declines steeply when there’s no president to vote for, he said. Reversing that lack of enthusiasm takes sustained messaging, not only about values or policy agendas, but about things as basic as who the candidates are, and where and when to vote, he said.

“The GOTV campaigns are an attempt to provide that sort of sustained repetition,” Schmidt said Friday. “It’s phone banks by each party, calling members, reminding them to vote, where the polls are, finding out whether they need rides to get there.” Schmidt said research indicates it takes several phone calls to get an unenthusiastic voter to go to the polls.

Democrats have touted the party’s 44 field offices throughout the state, and party Chairman Ben Grant said Thursday that volunteers have already made 2 million calls to Maine voters.

Republicans, with 25 field offices, said they’re working “smart and hard” to get out the vote.

“We’re being smart with our call lists and walk lists,” said GOP party spokesman David Sorensen. “We’re sending those remotely. If a volunteer is somewhere far from a field office, we’ll send them a list so they can go do it on their own, pounding the pavement and making calls.”

While volunteers work the phones and the streets, the candidates will continue criss-crossing the state Saturday, Sunday and Monday in a final push to make their case to voters.

Michaud will meet with voters and business owners in Portland, Lewiston and Boothbay Harbor on Saturday. The Democrat is scheduled to meet with leaders from Maine’s Indian tribes in Calais on Sunday. It’s likely that King will also make his first appearance with Michaud on the campaign trail sometime this weekend.

LePage will be at the Blaine House on Saturday morning for a food drive to benefit the Good Shepherd Food Bank, where he’ll be joined by Maine’s Republican U.S. senator, Susan Collins. The media has been invited to attend, as Collins — a prohibitive favorite to win a fourth Senate term on Election Day — is expected to give her “full support” to the LePage campaign.

Collins, identified by polls as the most popular politician in the state, has long given a tacit endorsement to LePage, but Saturday will mark the first time this election season that the two have appeared together at a campaign event.

While Cutler may have given his supporters the green light to jump ship, his campaign continues. According to a spokeswoman, he’ll be in Old Town on Saturday morning before heading to York County for various campaign events and a house party in the evening. On Sunday, he’ll be at various events in South Portland all day.

Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and,...