BY BEN MCCANNA

Staff Writer

A new poll shows Republican Kevin Raye losing big ground in his bid against Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud.

But a Raye campaign official dismissed the results as old and unreliable, calling it “polling malpractice.”

The survey, which was conducted between Sept. 24 and 28, released Wednesday, shows that 50 percent of likely voters in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District are planning to vote for Michaud, while 29 percent are siding with Raye — a 21 point difference.

When factoring in voters who are leaning toward a candidate, the margin is slightly smaller — 52-32, or a 20-point difference.

The telephone survey was conducted by the Pan Atlantic SMS Group, a Maine-based independent marketing research and consulting firm. It was not commissioned by either party, according to a news release.

In late September, the group surveyed 400 registered likely voters, about half of whom live in the 2nd District. The poll covers the gamut of national races in Maine, with a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.

The 2nd District results, however, have a margin of error of 6.9 percentage points.

A significant percentage of those surveyed — 15.3 percent — are either undecided or wouldn’t answer pollsters’ questions.

Raye’s campaign consultant, Kathie Summers-Grice, questioned the timing of the poll’s release. She noted that it was conducted nearly two weeks ago, while national polls from Rasmussen and Gallup are typically released within days of the phone surveys.

“I find it fascinating that Maine firms hold on to polls for a couple of weeks and then release them,” she said. “It’s really misleading when you release a poll that’s two weeks old that has a 7 percent margin of error — which is unheard of in polling — that only polls 200 people.

“How can you say it’s an accurate snapshot of the race when the presidential race has moved 15 points in two weeks? It’s polling malpractice.”

Summers-Grice said she’s confident Raye is closing the gap with Michaud, adding that the campaign’s independent polling from about two weeks ago shows Raye with stronger numbers.

Michaud campaign spokesman Dan Cashman said the latest numbers are encouraging for the five-term incumbent.

“At the same time, we know there’s a lot of work to do, and a lot of time between now and November. We firmly believe that the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day,” he said.

Cashman added that the Michaud campaign conducted its own independent poll earlier this week and the results were “consistent with, or better than” the Pan Atlantic poll.

The poll also provided insight on unenrolled voters in the district. Half of independent voters said they would vote for Michaud, while 30 percent would break for Raye. Along party affiliations, Michaud inspired more solidarity — 77 percent of registered Democrats said they would vote for Michaud, while 61 percent of registered Republicans favor Raye.

The poll shows a sharp contrast between women and men in the 2nd District. Both groups favor Michaud, but women voters favor Michaud by 32 percentage points, while men favor Michaud by a modest 11 percentage points.

The Pan Atlantic poll results are consistent with two other polls conducted in mid-September, which showed Michaud leading Raye by 19 and 15 percentage points, respectively.

Ben McCanna — 861-9239

[email protected]

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