Both campaigns for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District released internal poll numbers Monday with widely different results.
Each shows U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud in the lead, but one conducted for Republican challenger Kevin Raye shows him closing the gap.
Michaud leads by 7 percentage points in Raye’s poll, and 25 in Michaud’s.
Raye’s campaign was the first to release its numbers Monday following several weeks of independent polls that have shown double-digit leads for Michaud. Their poll, which was conducted in part by Raye’s campaign consultant, shows Michaud leading 47 to 40 percent — a far cry from the 20 percent margin reported last week in an independent publicly released poll.
Raye’s poll was conducted Oct. 10 and 11 by Eaton River Strategies and the results were processed by Scientific Marketing. The pollster used an automated telephone system to survey more than 1,200 likely voters in the district, with a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points, according to a news release from the Raye campaign.
Eaton River is owned by Kathie Summers-Grice — Raye’s campaign consultant — and Scientific Marketing is owned by former Republican U.S. Rep. David Emery. Emery said their numbers signal bad news for Michaud.
“Any incumbent who is at or near 50 percent in October is in serious trouble,” Emery said in the release. “Mike Michaud is now well below 50 percent and Kevin Raye is showing impressive gains as Election Day nears.”
Three independent surveys conducted in mid- to late September showed Michaud leading by comfortable margins — between 15 and 20 percentage points. On Monday, Michaud’s campaign spokesman Dan Cashman questioned the sudden deviation in Summers-Grice’s data.
“It’s a little suspect that the person who is managing Raye’s campaign is the first one to come out with a poll showing him within 15 points,” he said.
Later, Cashman released Michaud’s own internal poll, which shows the Democratic incumbent leading 58 to 33 percent.
The survey was conducted Oct. 8 and 9 by polling company Normington Petts. Pollsters interviewed about 400 likely voters by telephone and the results have a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points, Cashman said.
Of the people surveyed in Raye’s internal poll, 30 percent were Democrats, 29 percent were Republicans and 35 percent were unenrolled. Of the people surveyed in Michaud’s internal poll, 37 percent were Democrats, 35 percent were Republicans and 28 percent were unenrolled.
Earlier on Monday, Raye’s campaign received support from U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, who joined the Republican challenger in Portland for a private fundraiser, Caverly said.
Sessions is chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. In June, the committee named Raye as one of 38 notable candidates running for the House — a group called the Young Guns. The committee has launched a multimillion-dollar television blitz in support of 21 Young Guns — 55 percent of them — but so far, Raye hasn’t been included.
Caverly said Sessions gave no indication of whether the committee will begin airing ads in the 2nd District race, adding that it would violate election laws if the committee shared that information with the campaign.
On Friday, the Michaud campaign launched its third television ad — a negative ad that questions spending by Senate president Raye. The ad contends that Raye spent $20,000 to install a kitchen in his Augusta office to serve as a private Republican lounge. Caverly has characterized Michaud’s ad as a “false and misleading negative attack complete with fake pictures,” and has called for its removal from the airwaves.
Early in the campaign, each candidate released positive ads, but in early October the race turned negative when Raye’s campaign released an ad showing two older women criticizing Michaud.
Cashman said Michaud’s newest ad was a natural response to Raye’s and it had nothing to do with poll numbers.
Ben McCanna — 861-9239