A new poll from Public Policy Polling today shows two very different potential elections in 2014. If Governor Paul LePage (who has consistently had one of the lowest approval ratings of any governor in the country) faces a Democratic candidate one-on-one, he goes down hard. The poll shows him behind by a minimum of 13 points in each of the sample ballots.
If, however, independent candidate Eliot Cutler enters the race, as he did in 2010 and seems likely to do again, LePage becomes favored to win re-election.
The main reason for this is that LePage has done a good job maintaining his base over the past two years and still commands the same level of support that he won with in the last gubernatorial contest. This support hasn’t increased, but neither has it diminished. In this poll he maintains between around 35%-40% of the vote, regardless of the number or names of his opponents.
Cutler also seems to have his own upper limit. In this poll, even against the weakest Democratic challengers considered (Janet Mills and Ethan Strimling), Cutler only gets 32% of the vote. Only if there is no Democrat in the race at all does his support rise high enough to defeat LePage. This points towards there being a significant Democratic base that it would be difficult for him to ever shake loose (although if anything could do it, it would probably be the fear of another four years of LePage).
While this poll (and Cutler’s apparent wishes to run again) would seem to bode well for LePage, there is a path to victory for Democrats outlined in these numbers. Two potential candidates – Representatives Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud – poll ahead of Cutler and if they were to enter the race and maintain that kind of lead, it would damage his arguments about electability and likely greatly erode his support to their benefit.
I should also mention that this poll is almost two years out, and anything can happen.
Other interesting numbers from this survey:
Former Governor John Baldacci has a favorable/unfavorable rating that is negative (40/46), but still higher than LePage’s job approval numbers (39/55).
Of all the candidates named, only Baldacci, LePage and Ethan Strimling have approval numbers that are a net negative. Rep. Mike Michaud is viewed the most favorably (58/23) of the candidates reviewed.
0% of Democrats want Steve Woods to be their nominee.