In the survey of 400 likely voters, Michaud garners 40% support, compared to 31% for incumbent Governor Paul LePage and 26% for independent candidate Eliot Cutler. The poll was conducted July 11-16 and has a statistical margin of error of +/-4.9%, 95 times out of 100.
The NEA often supports Democratic candidates and the usual caveats about internal polls should be observed. The fact that the survey was sponsored by the national organization and not the affiliated Maine Education Association may show a degree of national interest in the race.
We’re still 15 months out from the election, and there hasn’t been much polling so far. The only other survey released publicly was a Democratic Party internal poll last month showing Michaud and LePage running neck and neck shortly after the Congressman launched his exploratory committee.
LePage’s supporters shouldn’t necessarily bemoan these results, despite the numbers showing him down from the 38% of the vote he achieved in 2010. LePage has just emerged from a bruising legislative session and will now have some time to consolidate his support and bring his numbers up in a less stressful political atmosphere.
The results are less encouraging for Eliot Cutler. If this survey and the Clarity Campaigns poll are accurate, then he has slipped into third place. If political progressives and moderates are looking to choose the best anti-LePage option, more numbers like these could prompt a significant shift in support away from Cutler and towards Michaud. As the poll shows, if this were a two-person race between Michaud and LePage, the bulk of Cutler’s supporters would back the Democratic candidate.
Earlier this month, the Rothenberg Political Report changed its rating to predict that Michaud has a slight advantage, but this is the first poll showing him in the lead.
With this much time before the election, anything can happen. I look forward to some independent public polling in this race.
Full memo available here.