In first poll since Michaud came out, he’s still ahead; LePage base is solid

Mike Michaud’s announcement that he’s gay has done virtually nothing to shift the race.

In the first public poll since Michaud came out, Public Policy Polling found that, in a race with Michaud, LePage and Cutler, Michaud wins narrowly:

  • Michaud: 38%
  • LePage: 36%
  • Cutler: 15%

In August 2013, the same polling organization had Michaud at 39%, LePage at 35% and Cutler at 18%.

Considering normal margins of error, these are very stable numbers, although Cutler cannot be happy that he’s changed the most — by losing three percentage points.

Gov. LePage has been running and governing in a way to appeal to his base. As poll numbers show, that base is very loyal.

You can see the stability of LePage’s base in the consistency of his vote: 36-39%

LePage gets 36% when paired with Michaud and Cutler.

If only he and Michaud were running, LePage would receive 39% and Michaud 53%.

And if only he and Cutler were running, LePage would receive 38% and Cutler 49%.

No public poll since Michaud said he’d likely run for governor has had LePage ahead. Yes, I know LePage told a conservative women’s group he has “a very strong lead,” but there’s still no evidence for that.

LePage’s base isn’t going anywhere, but it’s also unlikely that, after his support being stable so far, it will grow.

If this race is this close right before the election, voter enthusiasm and mobilization will matter a lot. That’s what gets voters to show up and vote.

Asked about the impact of Michaud’s coming out, 71% say it doesn’t matter

However, a few more say it makes it less likely they’ll support him (15%) than those that say it makes support more likely (12%).

Here’s the specifics:

Does Mike Michaud’s announcement that he’s gay make you more or less likely to support him for Governor next year, or does it not make a difference?

Results: More likely 12%, less likely 15%, doesn’t make a difference 71%, not sure 2%

It’s worth keeping in mind, though, that it very well could be that not everyone is honest in answering this question. There may be instances of a “social desirability effect,” as some say they aren’t biased when in fact they are.

But right now, it looks like virtually no impact.

What to keep on eye on: favorability and approval ratings

41% approve of LePage’s job as governor and almost everyone has an opinion of him. 54% disapprove and 5% are not sure. At this point, Maine people have made up their minds about LePage.

In contrast, Cutler’s favorability is only 29% but a lot of people don’t have an opinion about him. 32% see him unfavorably but 39% are not sure. Cutler has done little since the 2010 election to leave a mark on many Mainers’ consciousness.

And Michaud has the strongest favorability (or approval ratings), with most Mainers having a view about him, although not as many as LePage. 51% see him favorably, compared to 33% unfavorably and 16% not sure.

The LePage campaign, with its stable base, will try to bring down Michaud’s favorability numbers and to potentially scramble the race to create a similar dynamic to 2010.

[Addition]: Keep in mind the usual provisos about single polls: Pay attention to trends, always look at multiple polls, all polls have margins of error, all polls are snapshots in time and don’t predict the future.

Multiple public polls can be found at this link.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.