AUGUSTA — A poll released today by The Maine People’s Resource Center says Angus King has a big early lead in the race for a U.S. Senate seat, and that Pres. Obama has an edge among Maine voters over likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

The Maine People’s Resource Center is affiliated with the Maine People’s Alliance, a liberal advocacy group. It was the first to release poll results last year showing Portland mayoral candidate Michael Brennan leading his rivals in the race. Although the findings drew criticism of the group’s polling methods, the poll results for Brennan and the other candidates in Portland’s first ranked-choice mayoral election proved to be extremely accurate.

MPRC’s spokesman said in a written release that the poll results should be kept in perspective because it is so early in the campaign season.

“What these numbers mostly show is name recognition,” said Communications Director Mike Tipping. “These results tell us where candidates are starting, not where they’ll end up.”

The survey of likely Maine voters suggests that Obama leads Romney, with 54.6 percent of the vote in a head-to-head race in November. This is consistent with national groups that rate Maine as leaning Democratic in the presidential race.

The MPRC poll indicates that the hypothetical presidential race is closer in Maine’s second congressional district, also as expected.

In Maine’s two congressional races, incumbents Chellie Pingree, D-1st District,  and Mike Michaud, D-2nd District,  have strong leads over Jon Courtney and Kevin Raye. Courtney and Raye face primary challengers in June but are considered the likely nominees.

Voters appear to be up for grabs in the June 12 primary elections for U.S. Senate, with the  biggest blocks of Democrats and Republicans undecided, according to the poll.

Among those who support a candidate, state Sen. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth, and former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap are in a statistical tie for the lead on the Democratic side and Secretary of State Charlie Summers leads all other candidates in the Republican contest, with more than double the support of second-place candidate Maine Treasurer Bruce Poliquin.

A test general election match-up between Summers, Dunlap and independent candidate and former governor Angus King sees King leading with 56 percent of the vote and the Republican and Democratic candidates trailing by wide margins. King garners larger shares of unenrolled and Democratic voters than he does Republicans.

A majority of respondents – 58 percent – said they support legalizing same-sex marriage in Maine. This support is similar to, though slightly higher than, support found in Public Policy Polling poll last month.

MPRC says it surveyed 993 registered and likely voters between March 31 and April 2. The margin of error is 3.11 percent at a 95 percent confidence level, the group says.

The poll was done using automated phone calls, also known as interactive-voice response, or IVR polling. Some traditional pollsters who use personal interviews say the automated method is inconsistent, with results that are wrong as often as they are right.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.