Saturday, May 25, 2013
By Steve Mistler firstname.lastname@example.org
A new poll shows that independent Angus King is the heavy favorite to succeed U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, and that a ballot question that would allow same-sex couples to marry in Maine has strong support.
The poll is the first since last week's Republican and Democratic primaries narrowed the field of candidates for Snowe's seat.
It asked likely Maine voters whom they would choose to replace Snowe, who is not seeking re-election. Fifty percent picked King. Secretary of State Charlie Summers, the Republican nominee, drew 23 percent, while Democratic state Sen. Cynthia Dill got 9 percent.
The poll did not include three lesser-known independent candidates. It was commissioned by WBUR, the Boston affiliate of National Public Radio, and conducted by the nonpartisan MassINC Polling Group.
The survey of 506 likely Maine voters, done Wednesday and Thursday, has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
King, who served two terms as governor, is the best known candidate, according to the poll, and enjoys a 60 percent favorability rating.
Only 5 percent of the respondents said they hadn't heard of him. Thirteen percent said they had heard of him but had not decided whether to vote for him.
Summers has a 27 percent favorability rating, the poll says, with 31 percent of respondents saying they had heard of him but had not made up their minds about him. Twenty-three percent said they hadn't heard of him.
Fourteen percent of the respondents said they have a favorable view of Dill. Thirty-five percent said they had never heard of her, and 30 percent said they had heard of her but hadn't decided whether to vote for her.
The poll shows a higher rate of undecided voters -- 17 percent -- than some recent surveys. Steve Koczela of MassINC Polling said that is likely because pollsters didn't ask a "leaner question" when respondents said they were unsure whom they would vote for in November.
The undecided rate could be good news for Summers and Dill because it indicates that some voters may not be settled on King.
"Now that the field is finalized, people are giving themselves a little bit of space to figure out who the three candidates are," Koczela said. "You have a lot who have identified an initial preference, but there's still a significant number who haven't made up their minds."
The poll also shows that 55 percent of respondents favor a state law to allow same-sex couples to marry. The poll question closely mirrored the one proposed by advocates of gay marriage, including a phrase saying the law would exempt clergy members from performing same-sex marriages if doing so conflicted with their religious beliefs.
The draft of the ballot question released by Summers last week does not mention the exemption, which supporters of same-sex marriage believe is significant to the proposal's chances of passing in November.
Summers opposes same-sex marriage.
Mainers United for Marriage, which is campaigning for the new law, said the poll tracked with national surveys showing increasing support for gay marriage.
"Polling in Maine -- and around the country -- consistently shows that voters are changing their minds about allowing same-sex couples to receive a marriage license," said Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage, in a written statement. "In the past two years, we've had more than 88,000 one-on-one conversations with Maine voters, and we can see a difference."
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