Gov. Janet Mills and U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, the Democrats atop Maine’s November ballot, held leads in a new Maine poll released Thursday, despite a roiled economy at the top of both voters’ minds and Republican election hopes.
The governor drew support from 49 percent of voters compared with 39 percent for former Gov. Paul LePage. In a ranked-choice voting contest, Golden had 47 percent to 39 percent for former Rep. Bruce Poliquin and 8 percent for independent Tiffany Bond in the survey of 800 likely Maine voters by Portland-based Pan Atlantic Research.
Inflation and high costs have marked this midterm election for the unpopular President Joe Biden. Things looked bloody for Democrats when fuel prices escalated in the spring, but they gained some momentum in the summer after the U.S. Supreme Court ended federal abortion rights.
In recent weeks, Republicans’ prospects have improved in national polling. That has not yet trickled down to the Maine data.
Public polling has been relatively scant in the state’s biggest races, but the Pan Atlantic survey marked the fourth straight one in which Mills held a double-digit lead on LePage, a longtime rival going back to her time as attorney general.
Growth in the southern Maine suburbs has complicated the electoral picture for LePage, who won his 2010 and 2014 elections in three-way splits. While independent Sam Hunkler is in the race, he only gained 1 percent support in this poll and looks unlikely to affect the outcome. FiveThirtyEight gives Mills a 91 percent chance of winning.
The race between Golden and Poliquin has divided election forecasters, with Golden leading polls so far and raising more money, but the national environment tilting toward Poliquin and Republicans in a district that is trending in their direction. The Democrat held commanding polling leads in 2020 but only beat Republican Dale Crafts by 6 percentage points.
National groups are taking note. The 2nd District has seen $25 million in ad spending and reservations through Election Day, according to AdImpact data from last week. Republicans are expected to outspend Democrats by $3.5 million, but that could shift before Election Day.
They may take heart in the policy matters cited by Maine voters in the Pan Atlantic poll. A whopping 71 percent of voters said inflation was very important in their voting decisions, including 81 percent of Republicans. Next highest were health care at 51 percent, taxes at 50 percent, jobs at 45 percent and abortion at 39 percent.