New poll finds Trump unpopular, Poliquin in tight race

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A new poll found that more than half of the voters in Maine’s rural 2nd Congressional District disapprove of the way President Donald Trump is doing his job.

Though Trump won the sprawling district in 2016 — the only one in New England that favored him — 43 percent of voters approved of his performance in the mid-February survey carried out by the North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling firm, a firm that Maine Republicans have long dismissed as a biased, partisan outfit.

Its new poll, apparently paid for by Patriot Majority USA, determined that 52 percent of the district’s voters disapprove of Trump’s job performance.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, also racked up a 52 percent disapproval rating in the district. Only 34 percent said they approved of the way he’s handling his Capitol Hill position.

The district’s two-term GOP congressman, Bruce Poliquin, gets higher marks.

A hypothetical matchup with a generic Democratic opponent is a toss-up, the poll found.

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It also found that 62 percent have “major concerns” about Poliquin’s vote in favor of a health care plan last spring that U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, helped to kill in the Senate. Another 16 percent of voters said they had minor concerns about his vote on the measure, which ultimately failed.

Patriot Majority USA is a 501(c)(4) organization, which allows it to operate without disclosing its donors. It released an online video last spring attacking Poliquin for his health care vote.

Garrett Murch, the political and communications director for the state GOP, said he didn’t know “whose money was behind this poll, this so-called ‘Patriot Majority,’ but on Election Day, I think the results will bear out that people know Bruce has been working relentlessly — and successfully — for them.”

“Bruce isn’t just a Republican, he is a deeply caring man and tireless fighter for the people he represents,” Murch said.

In addition to its health care focus, the poll also found that by a 45-41 margin, voters in the district opposed the tax overhaul backed by Poliquin and signed into law by Trump in December. Only 36 percent of voters thought the tax change would benefit them.

“We know Congressman Poliquin is out of touch with his constituents, like this poll shows, but Maine Democrats aren’t going to put our faith in a single poll,” Phil Bartlett, the state Democratic chairman, said Wednesday.

“Instead, we are going to work hard day in and day out to earn the votes of Mainers across the 2nd District who want to create jobs, grow our economy and make health care more affordable and more accessible — unlike their congressman who voted to increase health care costs and who prioritized tax breaks for the wealthiest over that of hardworking, middle-class Mainers,” Bartlett said.

Regarding the polling firm behind the new poll, Republican Murch commented, “Is the big Democrat polling firm PPP known and respected for its accuracy? Hardly,” he said, adding, “the generic ballot question has often proven wildly inaccurate in recent decades when it’s over six months out from Election Day.”

The PPP poll surveyed 628 voters in the district with automated telephone interviews on Feb. 12 and 13. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percent.

It addition to asking about Poliquin, the 12-page memo also provided polling results about seven other members of Congress from other states who “could be vulnerable in their upcoming re-elections.”

scollins@sunjournal.com

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin (Steve Collins/Sun Journal)

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