Paul LePage is one of the most unpopular Governors in the country. Only 39% of voters approve of him to 55% who disapprove. But there’s a decent chance that he might get reelected next year for the same reason that he won in the first place: a three-way split with a Democrat and an independent that allows him to scrape by with less than 40% of the vote.
Public Policy Polling tested five contests that included LePage, independent Eliot Cutler, and different Democratic candidates and in each LePage comes out ahead even though he only gets 34-37%. Only two of the Democrats we tested (Congress members Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree) poll strongly enough to finish in second place, while the other three (John Baldacci, Janet Mills, and Ethan Strimling) each place third with Cutler grabbing second place honors.
The numbers are:
• LePage 34, Michaud 30, Cutler 26
• LePage 37, Cutler 32, Mills 19
• LePage 37, Cutler 32, Strimling 15
• LePage 37, Pingree 31, Cutler 23
• LePage 36, Cutler 29, Baldacci 27
“Paul LePage’s chances at reelection appear contingent on there being both a strong Democratic candidate and a strong independent candidate on the ballot next year,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “He would have very little chance in a race against just one serious opponent.”
If LePage somehow ended up in a two-way contest, he’d be doomed, according to Public Policy Polling. PPP tested him in head to heads against four potential opponents and he trails each of them by at least 8 points. The one he comes closest to is Eliot Cutler, who he would trail 49/41 in a head-to-head. He trails Chellie Pingree 53/40, predecessor John Baldacci 53/38 and has the largest deficit against Mike Michaud at 57/36.
Michaud’s statewide favorability rating is an incredibly strong 58/23—whether it’s next year or some other time he’s a very prime candidate for statewide office.
Democrats’ wish list for their 2014 candidate is topped by Baldacci at 28%, followed by Pingree at 21% and Michaud at 19%. No one else polls over 6%.
The problem for Democrats though is that if they have a strong candidate and Cutler goes through with his candidacy, the liberal/moderate vote is likely to split enough that a united conservative front puts LePage over the top. With his approval numbers LePage ought to be close to doomed for a second term. But unless either a) Cutler doesn’t run or b) Democrats nominate a very weak Cynthia Dill-esque candidate and let Cutler be their de facto candidate, LePage’s chances at reelection are pretty decent. It’s a complicated situation.
See full results of Public Policy Polling’s poll here.