BDN poll shows Michaud likely ahead in governor’s race

A new poll released this morning sponsored by the Bangor Daily News and conducted by Ipsos shows Democratic Congressman Mike Michaud with 42% of the vote in the gubernatorial contest, Republican Governor Paul LePage with 36% and independent Eliot Cutler with 16% of the vote. 8% of likely voters were undecided.

The poll, a non-probability survey conducted by Ipsos from October 6-12 using their online panel and recruitment methodology, does not report a traditional margin of error but instead includes a roughly-analogous credibility interval based on Bayesian statistical modeling. The lead for Michaud appears to be statistically significant at least at the 90% confidence level.

It’s good to see another media outlet, other than the Portland Press Herald, releasing some independent polling this year. In past elections, several newspapers and TV and radio stations in Maine would often sponsor polls, but those surveys have dwindled as research has become more expensive and news budgets have tightened.

It’s also good to see that the BDN is willing to embrace new methods of analysis, including scientific online public opinion research. There has been some debate recently about the methodology of non-probabilistic surveys but Ipsos is a leader in the field and has a strong track record of accurate results. Along with media partner Reuters, they released some of the most accurate state polls of the 2012 election.

One of the more interesting results in this poll is the large gap between the candidate preferences of registered and likely voters. The survey reached 903 registered voters but only 540 of them were deemed likely to cast a ballot, based on a seven-question screen. Michaud’s 6-point margin among likely voters increases to 13 points among all voters, which highlights the importance of the Democratic field program and turnout efforts: the more people they can convince to cast a ballot, the better their candidate will do. Ipsos’ methods seem to allow for more contact with these unlikely voters than telephone surveys (which are seeing decreasing rates of response).

The poll also found Republican Senator Susan Collins ahead with 56% of the vote to Democratic challenger Shenna Bellow’s 31%. Somewhat strangely, independent Erick Bennett was also included as an option in the race, despite the fact that his name will not appear on the ballot.

The survey found the No side leading on Question 1, an initiative to ban bear hunting using bait, dogs and traps, with 49% of the vote. 43% said they favored a ban and 7% were undecided.

This poll is somewhat of an outlier, showing Michaud with a larger lead than previous surveys, but it fits into the general trend seen over the past few months of a close race between Michaud and LePage, with Cutler a distant third.

Mike Tipping

About Mike Tipping

Mike is Maine's longest-writing political blogger and explores state politics and policy with a focus on analysis and explanation. He works at the Maine People's Alliance and Maine People's Resource Center.