PORTLAND (AP) – A pollster on Tuesday defended the results of a survey that showed strong support for Democratic Gov. John Baldacci’s re-election campaign.

The Strategic Marketing Services survey showed that 42 percent of respondents would vote for or were leaning toward Democrat Baldacci. That compared to 24 percent for Republican Chandler Woodcock and 3 percent each for independent Barbara Merrill and Green Independent Pat LaMarche.

Pat Murphy, president of Strategic Marketing Services, disclosed in his survey that he conducted a survey for the Baldacci campaign, but it was not noted in several news stories, including one by The Associated Press. Campaign disclosure reports indicate Strategic Marketing received $13,500 from the Baldacci campaign on April 25.

Murphy, a registered Democrat, said Tuesday the money was for a survey for Baldacci during the primary election. The latest quarterly omnibus poll focusing on the general election was not paid for Baldacci, Murphy said.

“This poll is totally independent,” he said.

Chris Jackson, Woodcock’s campaign manager, said Strategic Marketing’s polling numbers were tainted by its work for the Baldacci campaign.

“I put zero stock in them,” he said.

Questions have been raised earlier in the campaign about consultants’ links to Baldacci’s campaign.

Christian Potholm, a political science professor at Bowdoin College, came under fire after writing a newspaper column that criticized Woodcock’s stances on abortion, religion in schools and environmental protection.

Potholm, a Republican, later apologized for failing to disclose that he had been hired as a senior strategist for Baldacci’s campaign.

Jackson said the Strategic Marketing poll and Potholm newspaper column tend to distract from key issues on the minds of voters: the economy, taxes and health care. “What they’re trying to do is to distract people from those issues,” he said Tuesday.

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