Gov. Janet Mills (D) has a slight three-point edge over former Gov. Paul LePage (R) in Maine’s gubernatorial race, according to a poll released Monday.
The poll, taken by Digital Research Inc. and published by the Bangor Daily News, found Mills at 42 percent and LePage at 39 percent, while 13 percent of respondents said they were undecided or preferred not to answer.
Digital Research conducts a survey in Maine biannually, in the spring and fall. This one took place March 14 through April 7 among 622 registered voters.
The margin of error was plus or minus 3.9 percent, meaning LePage and Mills are statistically tied in their upcoming general election matchup.
LePage, Mills’ predecessor, was term-limited out of office in 2018 but announced last July he would run again, citing a need for “individual liberty, fiscal responsibility, and an economy which empowers everyone including our rural communities.”
Rural communities incidentally tend to favor LePage, according to the poll’s analysis of Maine’s two congressional districts. The analysis revealed a wide disparity in political opinions between Maine’s more densely populated First District and rural Second District.
The First District is made up of southeastern coastal towns like Portland, Augusta, and Kennebunk. The Second District is far larger geographically — expanding over roughly 80 percent of the state — and includes the populous city of Lewiston and Bangor.
In 2020, now-President Joe Biden won the First District 60 percent to then-incumbent President Donald Trump’s 37 percent. In the Second District, Trump defeated Biden 53 percent to 45 percent.
LePage and Mills each performed 20 points better in the districts that leaned toward their respective parties.
LePage garnered 49 percent in the Second District and 29 percent in the First, while Mills came in at 32 percent in the Second District and 52 percent in the First.
The poll, likewise, found the Second District’s incumbent Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) may be in trouble in his race for reelection. Golden, a Marine veteran who has served in Congress since 2019, is facing a challenge from his predecessor, former Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME).
On a generic ballot, respondents in the Second District preferred the Republican candidate over the Democrat candidate by 18 points. The Republican received 42 percent, the Democrat received 24 percent, the independent option received seven percent, and 28 percent said they were undecided or preferred not to say.
President Joe Biden’s significant decline in popularity in Maine may also be dragging down his fellow Democrats, which would follow a pattern of many other recent polls across the country.
The Digital Research poll showed that since last spring, Biden’s approval rating has fallen more than 20 points and is hovering at an abysmal 34 percent.
Economic issues dominated the list of priority issues for respondents, with 16 percent saying the general economy was their greatest issue. Other top issues mentioned included housing costs, energy/gas prices, inflation, and environment/climate change.