LEWISTON – Three of four candidates for major office in the state appear to be in position for an easy campaign this fall, a poll conducted in July found.

Supporters of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights also got good news. For Gov. John Baldacci, the message was mixed.

While Baldacci’s approval ratings are higher than they have been in other polls and the incumbent has a big advantage in name recognition, 42 percent of respondents think the state is headed in the wrong direction, compared to 40 percent who said the opposite.

The poll, conducted by Strategic Marketing Services of Portland, also asked voters who they would be most likely to vote for if the election was held tomorrow. Forty-two percent said they would vote for Baldacci, 24 percent said they would support Republican Chandler Woodcock.

Independent Barbara Merrill got 3 percent, and Green Independent Pat LaMarche, 2.5 percent. Independents John Michael, David Jones and Phillip NaPier received less than 1 percent combined.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents said they were undecided.

In the poll of 401 likely voters, respondents were asked to name candidates running for governor without being prompted. Seventy-one percent could name Baldacci, while only 34 percent could name Woodcock. Among Republicans, Woodcock’s name identification was 47 percent. Twelve percent named LaMarche and 8 percent named Merrill. Twenty-five percent didn’t know.

“I was surprised about the low level of awareness for the candidates, except for the governor,” Patrick Murphy, the president of SMS said. “Chandler Woodcock has received a fair amount of attention from the media, especially after his primary victory. Right now we have two major parties in the state. I would have said he should have gotten 50 percent.”

“Mainers don’t focus much on politics in August,” Murphy said. “There’s a big undecided. A lot of people are waiting to know the candidates better before making a decision. It’s going to be a short election season.”

Baldacci’s approval rating, which includes those with a very or somewhat favorable opinion of the governor, was 60 percent – significantly higher than the 40-45 percent approval numbers that have been reported by other polls.

Thirty-seven percent said they had an unfavorable opinion of Baldacci, and less than 3 percent said they didn’t know. Most people have made up their minds about how they feel about Baldacci, Murphy said, if not how they intend to vote.

Strategic Marketing Services is not working for any of the candidates or issue advocacy groups in the election, Murphy said. The company, however, did conduct an issue poll for Baldacci during the primary.

For TABOR, 54 percent of respondents said they would vote yes on the ballot question or were leaning that way, while 25 percent said they would vote no. Twenty-one percent said they were undecided.

“TABOR has one hell of a good lead,” Murphy said, but he cautioned that people were still learning about the details of the proposed law.

“This lead could whittle down, but it’s far to early to get a clear picture,” Murphy said. “I think it will be close at the end,” citing the results of another initiative to limit government spending that started its campaign with a big lead but ultimately lost by a large margin.

U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe received the strongest support, with 68 percent of respondents saying they would vote for the Republican, who is seeking a third term. Her Democratic opponent, Jean Hay Bright, came in with 10 percent and independent, anti-war candidate Bill Slavick received 4 percent. Eighteen percent said they were undecided.

The numbers were also strong for Maine’s two congressmen. In the 1st Congressional District, 57 percent said they would support U.S. Rep. Tom Allen, a Democrat. About 11 percent said they planned to vote for Republican Darlene Curley, a state representative from Scarborough. Independent, anti-war candidate Dexter Kamilewicz was supported by about 3 percent. Almost 29 percent said they were undecided.

In the 2nd Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud had the support of 62 percent of respondents. Republican Scott D’Amboise’s support was measured at 14 percent. Twenty-four percent said they were undecided.

“The three are well-known and liked,” Murphy said. “It will be hard to knock them off.”

Strategic Marketing Services polled 401 likely voters between July 14 and 21. The margin of error is 4.9 percent with a 95 percent confidence level. If the poll was conducted 100 times, 95 times the results would be within plus or minus 4.9 percent.


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