The race for governor is a dead heat, with Gov. Janet Mills drawing 42% support and former Gov. Paul LePage backed by 39% of Mainers, according to a new poll released Monday.
The Critical Insights on Maine tracking survey, conducted by Digital Research Inc., asked 622 respondents by phone and online their opinion of a variety of topics. The margin of error is 3.9 percentage points.
The highly anticipated governor’s race between Democrat Mills and Republican LePage won’t go before voters until November. But the survey conducted in March and April shows a tight race with 13% saying they are undecided and 6% saying they would support an independent.
The poll also shows Mills with a strong lead in the 1st Congressional District, with 52% support versus only 29% for LePage. But in the 2nd District, LePage has a commanding lead with 49% support compared to just 32% for Mills.
On economic issues, Mainers are pessimistic, the poll shows. Forty-one percent of Mainers think the state is on the wrong track and 57% say the country is headed in the wrong direction. Sixteen percent believe the economy is the most important issue, with the “high and rising cost of living” characterized as the “most prominent economic concern for Maine voters.”
In that category, 31% named the price of oil and utilities as their top concern, followed by 28% who said the cost of living and 23% who said inflation.
Perhaps more telling, 54% of Mainers think the economy will get worse in the next year, with only 22% saying it will get better. The rest — 22% — predicted it will stay the same.
In addition to polling the head-to-head Mills vs. LePage race, the pollsters asked Mainers whether they approve or disapprove of Mills’ performance. Results show 46% approve and 41% disapprove, with 75% of Democrats saying they approve and just 19% of Republicans approving of her performance.
Mills’ 46% approval is down from 55% in the fall, 57% last spring, and the high watermark of 62% the fall immediately after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Job approval marks for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, continue to show more Mainers disapprove of her performance than approve. Although the poll was taken prior to last week’s leak of a Supreme Court decision that shows two justices Collins’ supported may overturn the abortion decision Roe v. Wade, her disapproval is at 46%.
The numbers for Collins have steadily declined over the years, from her highest approval in the fall of 2013 at 69%.
When it comes to President Joe Biden, 57% of Mainers disapprove of his performance. Last fall, his disapproval was at 45% and the previous spring, most Mainers approved of his performance, giving him 55% approval and just 33% disapproval.
Critical Insights on Maine has been surveying Mainers on many topics for more than 25 years and is the longest-running consistently administered tracking survey in the Northeast, according to the company.