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National poll: King's lead drops to 8 points

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Public Policy Polling, a national polling firm based in Raleigh, N.C., is reporting that the lead by former Maine governor Angus King has been slashed to just eight points ahead of his Republican challenger, Charlie Summers.

PPP’s newest poll on the Maine Senate race finds it much closer than expected, with Angus King leading 43% over 35% for Republican Charlie Summers and 14% for Democrat Cynthia Dill.

King’s popularity is not what it was at the beginning of the campaign: 52% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 35% with an unfavorable one. That +17 spread is down a net 21 points from March when he was at +38 with 62% of voters rating him positively and 24% holding a negative opinion.

The drop in King’s popularity has been across the board, but it’s particularly acute with Republicans. He’s gone from 43/38 with them to now 22/65. His declines with independents (from 69/20 to 57/30) and Democrats (from 74/14 to 69/19) have been more modest.

It’s reaching the point where King may need to more explicitly say he’s going to organize as a Democrat if he wants to win this race. King is winning only 13% of the Republican vote at this point, but he’s losing 26% of the Democratic vote to Dill.

Among those already voting for King 64% want him to caucus with the Democrats if he’s elected to only 9% who want him to side with the Republicans and 23% who are undecided. So he has more to gain by bringing Democrats voting for Dill into the fold than he does to lose by antagonizing his small number of Republican leaning supporters.

If there’s good news for King in this particular poll, it’s that neither of his opponents are exactly setting the world on fire. Summers has a 36/40 favorability rating, and Dill’s is 24/37. Those numbers would suggest neither of them has a particularly high ceiling. So if King can hold onto 45% he’ll probably win—but his position looks a lot less comfortable than it did in polling earlier this summer.

King’s communications director, Crystal Canney, said the campaign is not taking King’s lead for granted. “We currently have a double digit lead in one poll and a smaller lead in another—after $1.7 million in negative advertising from out-of-state right-wing groups,” she said. “It’s obvious this race can’t be taken for granted, and we are not going to.”

There’s nothing too interesting in the Presidential contest in Maine. Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney 55-39, a result pretty much in line with his 17 point victory there in 2008. Obama has solid approval numbers with 54% of voters giving him good marks to 42% who disapprove. Romney is quite unpopular with only 37% of voters rating him favorably to 57% with an unfavorable opinion. He’s not getting any New England home region advantage in Maine.

Voters trust Obama over Romney on foreign policy by a 55/39 margin identical to the overall numbers. Only 34% of voters approve of how he reacted to the situation in Libya this week, while 51% disapprove. Obama also leads Romney 54-42 in terms of who voters trust more on the economy.

Full results of the PPP poll here.

About Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson is the former editor of The Maine Wire and currently producer for the Howie Carr Show. Follow him on Twitter @Stevie_Rob or send him an email at Steve@HowieCarrShow.com.

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