Three new polls in governor’s race show Michaud ahead in two, LePage ahead in one

So it looks like we’re in the time of the gubernatorial campaign when a lot of polls get released.

The race has looked stable, with Michaud narrowly ahead of LePage and Cutler lagging. Two of the three new polls confirm that picture, while the other does not.

You can see these below (but note that these are not in date order).

Late September/early October 2014 polls in the Maine governor's race

Late September/early October 2014 polls in the Maine governor’s race

The poll from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (GQR above) has Cutler at 15%, LePage at 39% and Michaud at 43%. Only 3% are undecided. This is a poll of 605 likely voters conducted October 5-7 and the poll has a margin of error of 4%.

The poll from Pan Atlantic SMS is the only one to show LePage ahead and has the largest Cutler vote preference. Cutler is at 19.5%, LePage at 39.3% and Michaud at 33.6%. This is a poll of 400 likely voters conducted September 23-29 with a margin of error of 4.9%.

The CBS/NYT poll, like the GQR poll, shows a Michaud lead. It has Cutler at 10%, LePage at 35% and Michaud at 37%. This is a poll of 1531 likely voters conducted September 20-October 1 with a margin of error of 2.8%.

So what’s going on?

One poll is different from the others. It also happens to be the poll with the smallest sample and the largest margin of error.

The other polls have larger samples, smaller margins of error and finished sampling more recently.

Those facts don’t, by themselves, establish that the poll that’s different is wrong.

However, I will repeat something I’ve said multiple times — the trend is your friend.

When you see all the polls going in one direction, you can feel fairly confident about what’s going on.

In this case, there is one poll that’s off the general trend, the Pan Atlantic SMS poll with LePage ahead. It is certainly possible that it’s right and the others are wrong. That could happen.

However, when the Maine governor’s race started to shift in 2010, it showed up in numerous polls.

So unless (or until) there are more polls with similar findings, it has to be considered an outlier.

Based on these three polls as well as the poll averages and poll trends, at this point in the Maine governor’s campaign, it still looks like Michaud is narrowly ahead of LePage and Cutler is lagging.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.