When a poll released Sept. 9 showed U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, clinging to a 45-38 lead over Republican challenger Jason Levesque, Levesque's campaign fired off an optimistic news release headlined, "We're within seven points!"
There were no such releases from Levesque's camp Monday.
On Monday, an independent poll by Critical Insights, a Portland firm, showed Michaud with a comfortable 48-28 lead, a margin at least one analyst believes more accurately reflects the current state of the 2nd Congressional District race.
Mark Brewer, an associate professor of political science at the University of Maine, said that despite a national electorate that's anti-incumbent and anti-Democrat, the contest is still Michaud's to lose.
"Even with the headwinds he's facing, I've never thought he was in any trouble," Brewer said. "And I guess, at this point, I still don't."
Brewer acknowledged that the 2nd District is a swing district that could easily be taken by the GOP. However, he said, Michaud, who is seeking his fifth consecutive two-year term, has a firm hold.
"Let's put it this way," Brewer said. "If Michaud's in trouble, then the Democrats are in far worse shape than anyone can imagine, and they're already portrayed as being in pretty bad shape."
Brewer said he couldn't explain the disparity between the two polls.
"Clearly something was wrong with one of them," he said.
Despite the result, Levesque said he's very much in the hunt.
"(The Critical Insights poll) doesn't depress me in the least," he said. "I think the main takeaway from both polls is that (Michaud) is under 50 percent. That number isn't changing."
"Michaud has been in government for over 30 years," he added. "Mainers are not happy with what he's done in Washington or Augusta."
Levesque said his limited-government, free-enterprise message was resonating with voters he's met on the campaign trail.
He denied that his campaign was simply attempting to capitalize on the anti-incumbency furor.
"No, Mike Michaud has voted against the wishes of the Maine people," he said. "It's not me being reactive to that. It's me voicing the concerns of the majority of people in the district."
Nonetheless, Levesque he made several attempts to link Michaud to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, saying the Maine congressman has voted with the divisive Pelosi "96 percent of the time."
"That's not the independent voice Mainers in the 2nd District are looking for," Levesque said.
On his blog, Levesque posted a Washington Post story likening this election year to 1994 when Democrats lost majorities in the House and Senate.
Brewer said Levesque has some ground to cover if he's to join that would-be tide. Brewer was struck by the national GOP's small monetary contributions to Levesque.
"If they thought he had any chance they'd be giving a lot more money to his campaign," Brewer said. "But they're not. You can read a lot by seeing where the money goes."
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Political Action Committees had given Levesque $12,435 for his campaign against Michaud, accounting for 5 percent of the $259,166 he'd garnered since June 30.
By contrast, of the $760,621 in Michaud's war chest, more than $551,000 has come from PACs over that same period. Additionally, Greg Olson, Michaud's campaign manager, said that the National Democratic Committee is so confident that Michaud's seat is safe that they're hoping the congressman can eventually divert his resources to tighter congressional races.
"Our donors should rest assured their money will be used here or to help causes or candidates that Mainers support," Olson said.
Levesque, on the other hand, wasn't concerned about the lack of outside money, saying, "money doesn't decide the race, it doesn't buy a vote."
"As long as we have the funds to execute a winning strategy, and I think we do, that's all that matters," he added.
Levesque was also hopeful that more news coverage of the race would help turn the tide. During a 15-minute conversation Monday, he lamented the lack of media attention several times.
As of June 30, Federal Election Commission filings show Levesque had spent all but $58,961 of his funding.
But Levesque's coffers could get an injection, particularly if the GOP candidates continue to gain momentum nationally and regionally.
In the meantime, Levesque continued to sharply criticize his opponent, saying Michaud's reluctance to hold a town hall-style meeting showed the incumbent was "absolutely afraid of what people have to say."
"People simply aren't happy with the job he's doing," Levesque said.
Despite the apparent lead, Olson said Michaud's campaign is "cautiously optimistic" about the congressman's re-election chances.
"The only poll that matters to us takes place in November," Olson said. "We're not polls people, we're votes people."