A Suffolk University poll of likely midterm voters in Maine shows independent Angus King with a commanding lead over Republican Eric Brakey in the race for U.S. Senate.

Meanwhile, the race for governor is tied at 39 percent between Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, a Democrat, and Republican businessman Shawn Moody, with independents Teresea Hayes, the state treasurer, at 4 percent, businessman Alan Caron at 3 percent and nearly 16 percent undecided.

In the U.S. Senate race, which will be determined by ranked-choice voting, 52 percent preferred King, the incumbent senator and a former Maine governor. A majority of votes on Election Day would automatically stop the state’s process of tabulating voters’ second, third or subsequent choices. King was followed by Brakey, a state senator, (25 percent) and Democrat Zak Ringelstein, an educator, (9 percent), with 15 percent undecided. The poll also measured the outcome if the vote count were to continue to the second round. In that case, King widens his lead over Brakey, 58 percent to 27 percent.

“Angus is King in round after round in Maine,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “The poll suggests Maine may not need a second round for U.S. Senate.”

About ranked-choice voting

Maine is the first state to use ranked-choice voting for the U.S. Senate and Congressional elections and party primaries. It will not be used for the upcoming governor’s race. Ranked-choice voting allows the second choice votes from the first round’s loser to be reallocated to the remaining contenders. The process continues until a candidate has reached 50 percent. This survey is the first public poll ever to measure a statewide general election race using the ranked-choice voting methodology.

The state is divided over this voting process: 47 percent approved and 43 percent disapproved, with Democrats and Republicans clashing along party lines. Among registered Democrats, 71 percent approved, and 21 percent disapproved, but among Republicans, 67 percent disapproved, and 22 percent approved.

Nearly two-thirds (66 percent) of voters were extremely or very interested in the U.S. Senate race, while 25 percent were somewhat interested, and 9 percent were not interested.

Voters in the U.S. Senate race reported their top concerns as Donald Trump (24 percent), the economy (19 percent), health care (16 percent), and immigration (16 percent). 

Views of Trump

The president struggles in a state he lost by only three points in 2016. Fifty-five percent disapprove of Trump’s job performance, while 41 percent approve. Nearly half (46 percent) want their vote in November to change the direction in which Trump is leading the nation, while 30 percent said they want their vote to support Trump’s way. Nearly 21 percent said that their vote in November doesn’t have much to do with Trump and his policies.

LePage & Medicaid expansion

Outgoing Gov. Paul LePage is seen unfavorably by 52 percent of voters, while 37 percent have a favorable view of him. A majority, 56 percent, disagreed with his refusal to go through with a voter-approved expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, while 40 percent agreed with that decision.

Methodology

The statewide survey of 500 Maine likely voters was conducted Aug. 2 – Aug. 6. The margin of error is +/- 4.4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Marginals and full cross-tabulation data are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, dpaleologos@suffolk.edu.