Monday March 14, 2011 | 03:44 PM

Republican Gov. Paul LePage is more popular with Maine voters than former Gov. John Baldacci was near the end of his term, according to a recent poll by Public Policy Polling.

The North Carolina-based polling firm said 43 percent of Mainers approve of LePage's job performance versus 48 percent who disapprove. About 9 percent of voters said they are undecided. Only 29 percent approved of Baldacci, a Democrat, according to a PPP poll last fall.

The poll showed a gender gap in LePage's support. More than half of women polled - 52 percent - said they disapprove of the new governor, versus 39 percent who approve. About half of all men polled - 49 percent - said they approve of LePage, versus 44 percent who disapprove.

The automated poll was conducted from March 3 to March 6 and surveyed 1,247 Maine voters. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent.

Public opinion on same-sex marriage remains close, according to the poll. About 47 percent of Mainers approve of legalizing marriage for gay couples compared with 45 percent who oppose it and 8 percent who are unsure. Maine voters rejected a law allowing same-sex marriage in 2009, 53 percent to 47 percent.

Click here to see the full polling results.

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