A new poll shows Democrat Janet Mills with an 8-point advantage over Republican Shawn Moody in Maine’s gubernatorial race while suggesting a dead heat in the hotly contested race in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

The campaigns of Moody and Terry Hayes – an independent who was not named in the poll – questioned the accuracy or methodology of the late-season survey.

The Emerson College poll of nearly 900 registered Maine voters shows that Mills, the state’s attorney general, was the top choice for 49.7 percent of respondents while 41.7 percent chose Moody, a business owner.

But the survey did not ask about independents Hayes or Alan Caron, another independent who dropped out of the race and endorsed Mills on Monday but whose name remains on the ballot. Instead, 5 percent of respondents selected the option of “someone else” while 3.6 percent were undecided.

The poll was conducted with automated systems on both telephone landlines and online. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

While there has been a relatively small amount of polling in Maine this election season, Emerson’s survey is the latest to suggest that Mills has opened a lead over Moody. An online poll conducted by Portland-based Pan Atlantic Research also put Mills up 8 percentage points, although Moody’s campaign dismissed the results as skewed.


Moody’s political consultant, Brent Littlefield, said Wednesday the campaign feels “very confident” that Maine voters will elect Moody next week.

“For years and years and years, I have been noting the false polls which arrive just before the election in Maine and, for years, I have been correct that the outcomes have been different than the polls,” said Littlefield, who also advised Gov. Paul Le- Page’s gubernatorial campaigns as well as U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-District 2.

Located in Boston, Emerson is one of a growing number of colleges and universities conducting political polls. In 2016, an Emerson poll conducted in late October showed Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump by 4 percentage points in Maine. In the end, Clinton received 3 percent more votes than Trump in the state.

Yet poll methodology can have a significant impact on accuracy.

In the case of the current Maine poll – conducted Oct 27-29 and paid for by the college – Emerson did not call any cellphones despite federal data estimating that 53 percent of households nationwide are now “wireless-only.” More than 70 percent of respondents were reached on landline telephones while 28 percent participated via online survey.

Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire’s Survey Center, said the majority of responses his teams often receive are from people reached on cellphones. So relying on landlines for 72 percent of results seems high. But Smith said that doesn’t mean the results can’t be accurate, particularly during a midterm election when people willing to answer a survey call are likely to be more politically engaged.


Smith said not naming Hayes when asking questions could affect the results.

“If a candidate spends a considerable amount of money in a race, (survey participants) might recognize the name from advertising” and respond affirmatively during a survey, Smith said. “That suggests for me that the third-party candidate is significantly under-represented in that poll.”

A Hayes campaign spokesman blasted the omission even as he suggested Hayes is the only person who can defeat Mills.

“It’s outrageous for a poll to come out six days before an election that doesn’t include the independent candidate who is also Maine’s State Treasurer and who has spent $1.4 million on a highly credible Clean Elections campaign for Governor,” Hayes campaign manager Kyle Bailey said in a statement. “It’s the kind of stunt you would expect from partisan pollsters, it’s wrong, and it’s misleading to Maine voters.”

The Mills campaign also downplayed the poll’s suggestion of a sizable gap between the two contenders.

“Our campaign is taking nothing for granted because we believe the election will be much closer than this poll suggests,” Mills spokesman Scott Ogden said in a statement. “That’s why Janet continues to work hard, traveling across the state and talking to Mainers who tell her they’re excited to support our campaign because she will lower the cost of health care, strengthen public schools, and grow our economy – not simply offer more of the same.”


In the race for Maine’s 2nd District, the poll found 46.7 percent of respondents supported Democratic challenger Jared Golden versus 45.6 percent support for incumbent Poliquin. That poll involved 441 respondents and had a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.

Roughly 3 percent of respondents favored “some one else” (there are two independents, Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar, in the race) while 4.3 percent were undecided.

The Emerson results, combined with other polls, strongly suggest the 2nd District race could be decided by ranked-choice voting.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, meanwhile, drew support from 56.2 percent of respondents living in Maine’s 1st District. Her Republican opponent, Mark Holbrook, was supported by 31 percent of participants while 7.2 percent supported independent Marty Grohman and 5.6 percent were undecided. The margin of error is 4.9 percentage points.

In Maine’s U.S. Senate race, independent Sen. Angus King was polling at 50.4 percent, just above the threshold needed to avoid a ranked-tabulation in the three-way race. His opponents, Republican Eric Brakey and Democrat Zak Ringelstein, received 37.2 percent and 5.2 percent support among survey respondents, with 6.6 percent undecided.

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