Thursday, October 28, 2010

GOP headed for a win in Maine

In a sign of the extent to which the GOP is winning everywhere this year, Republican Paul LePage is primed to be the first candidate from his party elected Governor of Maine since 1990. LePage leads with 40% to 28% for independent Eliot Cutler and 24% for Democrat Libby Mitchell.

What's most remarkable about LePage's likely victory is that it comes despite the fact that a majority of Maine voters don't like him. 51% of them have an unfavorable opinion of him to only 42% who see him in a positive light. But because he has a relatively unified conservative base while Democratic leaning voters are splitting almost evenly between Mitchell and Cutler he's in a position to win without coming anywhere close to 50% of the vote.

LePage is winning Republicans, who because of the enthusiasm gap are actually the largest group of voters in Maine this year, by a 71-18 margin. Mitchell is pretty much out of contention at this point because she is barely taking even a majority of Democratic voters, holding a 51-30 advantage over Cutler. Cutler meanwhile has the advantage with independents at 40% to 31% for LePage and with Mitchell registering at only 17%.

Cutler is easily the most popular candidate in the race, with 46% of voters seeing him positively to only 33% with an unfavorable opinion. His problem is that a lot of people who like him aren't planning to vote for him. Among voters with a favorable opinion of Cutler only 56% actually plan to vote for him while 21% are going for LePage and 18% plan to support Mitchell. To put it in comparison 87% of voters who like LePage are also planning to cast their ballots for him, which is why he's beating Cutler by such a wide margin despite being less popular than him.

People who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 are going 42% for Mitchell and 40% for Cutler. As long as that remains the case there's no possible outcome in this race other than a LePage victory. LePage's support remains pretty solid so Mitchell's supporters would have to flock toward Cutler or vice versa for him not to win and that seems unlikely unless one of the candidates drops out of the race and endorses the other between now and Tuesday.

That seems unlikely to happen so it appears Paul LePage will be the next Governor of Maine.

Full results here

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