A new poll released on Sunday from Public Policy Polling (sponsored by Maine Conservation Voters Action Fund) shows Governor Paul LePage and Congressman Mike Michaud statistically tied in the race for governor (Michaud at 43% and LePage at 42%) with Cutler trailing at 11%. The survey sampled 1,059 likely voters for a margin of error of +/-3%, at the 95% confidence level. This is a similar result to other polls over the last few months, indicating a remarkably stable race, especially for a 3-way contest in Maine.
The PPP poll was completed September 9th. A CBS/New York Times poll conducted by YouGov using an online panel completed on September 2nd showed a 1-point margin for LePage and a Rasmussen poll completed on September 4th showed a 4-point margin for Michaud. All of these results show a difference between the two top candidates within the surveys’ margins of error.
While these polls don’t show either LePage or Michaud as a clear front-runner in the race (poll aggregators indicate that Michaud likely has a very small lead), they do show a wide and consistent gulf between the Democratic and Republican candidates and independent candidate and 2010 2nd-place finisher Eliot Cutler.
This is bad news for the Cutler campaign. All three polls come after his public endorsement by Senator Angus King in mid-August and after his campaign has been on the air with TV ads (as have the other candidates and outside groups). This is a point where, if movement was going to happen in his direction, it might begin to be seen in the polling results. With no apparent momentum for the independent and such a close race between the top two candidates, Cutler’s supporters (most of whom count Michaud as their second choice) may soon feel increasing pressure to back the Democrat in order to prevent LePage winning a second term.
The Cutler camp seems to be aware of this dynamic. On Sunday night, shortly after the release of the PPP poll, campaign manager Ted O’Meara sent an email to supporters claiming that “internal data” shows Cutler “gaining momentum.” He provided no polling results or other evidence to back up this assertion.