For the first time in Maine’s history, the state’s electoral votes may not all go to one candidate, according to a SurveyUSA poll commissioned by Colby College of Waterville, Maine, and the Boston Globe newspaper.
In what should be a solid-blue state, Democrat Hillary Clinton today barely edges Republican Donald Trump 42% to 39%, eight weeks till votes are counted. Should Clinton carry the state on Election Day, she would pick up at least 3 of the state’s 4 electoral votes. But Maine does not allocate its electoral votes “winner take all.” Maine awards two votes to the statewide winner, and one additional vote to the winner of each of the state’s two U.S. Congressional Districts. Today, Trump leads Clinton by 10 points in C.D. #2. This single electoral vote is inconsequential in a landslide, but in a close race, and depending on how the chips fall in other states, Northern Maine’s half-a-million residents could be kingmakers.
30 days until early-voting begins:
Clinton, who leads by 3, is running 12 points weaker than Barack Obama did in 2012, when he carried Maine by 15 points. Not since 2000, when Democrat Al Gore carried Maine by 5 percentage points, has the state been this closely contested. A 38-point Gender Gap carves up the state. Trump carries Maine men by 17 points. Clinton carries Maine women by 21 points. Trump holds 86% of the Republican base, surrendering 8% to Libertarian Gary Johnson, who polls at 9% overall, but who draws 4 times as many Republican votes as he does Democrat. Clinton holds 88% of the Democratic base, surrendering 5% to Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Independent voters split, 34% Clinton, 34% Trump, 14% Johnson, 9% Stein. (Independent candidate Evan McMullin is not on the ballot in Maine.)
In the 1st Congressional District, which includes greater Portland, along the coast to Camden and up though Augusta and Waterville, Clinton leads Trump by 18 points, 49% to 31%. Regardless of whether Clinton carries the state, she is almost certain to carry this Congressional District, ensuring her of 1 electoral vote. In the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Lewiston and Auburn, Bangor, northern and rural parts of the state and Downeast, Trump leads Clinton by 10 points, 47% to 37%. Those who envision a possible 269-to-269 electoral-vote tie as one 2016 outcome, see Maine’s 2nd District as critical for Trump. Since 1972, when Maine first set up its current allocation system, the state’s 4 electoral votes have always gone to 1 candidate. If CD #2 goes one way and the rest of the state goes another, it will be the first time in history.
Of Trump supporters, 63% say they are voting “for” Trump; 37% say they are voting “against” Clinton. Of Clinton supporters, 64% say they are voting “for” Clinton; 35% say they are voting “against” Trump. 73% of Trump voters cast their vote enthusiastically, compared to 26% who vote for Trump with reservations. 65% of Clinton voters cast their vote enthusiastically, compared to 34% who vote for Clinton with reservations.
Trump leads among voters under age 50. Clinton leads among voters age 50+. Trump leads by 16 points among voters with a high-school education. Clinton leads by 22 points among voters with a 4-year college degree. Clinton leads among the most affluent and least affluent voters. Trump leads among middle-income voters.
In Maine’s 1st Congressional District, incumbent Democrat Chellie Pingree is poised for easy re-election to her 5th term, today 20 points atop Republican challenger Mark Holbrook. In Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Republican Bruce Poliquin, first elected in 2014 when the seat was open, seeks his 2nd term. Today, Poliquin leads Democratic challenger Emily Cain 50% to 45% in a 2014 re-match, when Poliquin defeated Cain 47% to 42%. (Independent Blaine Richardson received 11% of the 2014 vote; there is no independent on the 2016 Congressional ballot.)
54% of Mainers statewide, including 90% of Democrats, 63% of women, 62% of college-educated voters and 56% of Independents, today say they have no confidence in Republican Governor Paul LePage’s ability to govern. 40% of Mainers, including 85% of Republicans, say they have confidence in LePage. Of those with no confidence in LePage, 72% vote for Clinton. Of those with confidence in LePage, 81% vote for Trump. LePage is viewed extremely unfavorably by 48% of voters, compared to just 18% who view him extremely favorably. 64% of Mainers say the level of civility in Maine politics has gotten worse since LePage took office in 2010, 4 times as many as say that civility under LePage has gotten better. When voters are asked about a hypothetical 2018 match-up for United States Senator between Independent incumbent Angus King and LePage, King wipes the floor with LePage, 59% to 37%.
Context and Methodology: SurveyUSA interviewed 1,000 adults from the state of Maine 09/04/16 through 09/10/16. Of the adults 903 were registered to vote. Of the registered voters, 779 were determined by SurveyUSA to be likely to vote on or before the 11/08/16 general election. Of the likely voters, 382 were from the 1st Congressional District (with a theoretical margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5.3 percentage points in either direction), 397 were from the 2nd Congressional District (with a theoretical margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5.0 percentage points in either direction). This research was conducted using blended sample, mixed mode. Respondents reachable on a home telephone (73% of likely voters) were interviewed on their home telephone in the recorded voice of a professional announcer. Respondents not reachable on a home telephone (27% of likely voters) were shown a questionnaire on their smartphone, tablet or other electronic device. The last time a Republican carried Maine was in 1988, when George H.W. Bush of Kennebunkport defeated Democrat Michael Dukakis by 12 points. In 1992, Bill Clinton carried the state by 8 points over Independent Ross Perot, with Bush finishing 3rd. In 1996, Clinton carried the state by 21 points over Republican Bob Dole. In 2004, Democrat John Kerry carried the state by 9 points over George W. Bush. In 2008, Obama carried the state by 17 points. During the field period for this survey, Libertarian Johnson asked, “What is Aleppo?” during a TV interview. It is unclear whether Johnson’s support will diminish or be unaffected by this perceived gaffe, and how that might impact Trump’s support. Most of the interviews for this survey were completed before Clinton called some Trump supporters a “basket of deplorables.” All of the interviews for this survey were completed before Clinton experienced a medical episode during a 09/11 memorial service in New York City. Nebraska is the only other state that allocates electoral votes by Congressional District.