Both of Maine's Congressional races are looking more competitive than usual, with the incumbents facing tepid approval ratings and holding single digit leads:
Chellie Pingree leads challenger Dean Scontras 47-38. Voters in the district are evenly divided on Pingree's job performance with 40% approving of her and 39% disapproving. She's benefiting from a pretty weak opponent in Scontras. 65% of voters have no opinion about him and among those who do only 15% see him positively with 20% holding a negative view.
Both candidates have their party base pretty much locked up with Pingree getting 81% of Democrats and Scontras 78% of Republicans. Pingree's solid overall advantage comes because she's ahead 49-27 with independents. She's outrunning her 38/38 approval numbers with that group of voters by a good bit, suggesting that incumbency and name recognition might still be worth something even this year.
Pingree's numbers have to be seen as pretty decent across the back drop of the district, where Barack Obama's approval is slightly under water at 48% of voters disapproving of him to 46% giving him good marks.
Mike Michaud leads Jason Levesque 45-38. That may be a closer margin than he's become accustomed to in recent elections but it's better than a lot of other Democrats are doing in districts where Barack Obama's all the way down at 41%.
Michaud actually has slightly negative approval numbers with 39% of voters giving him good reviews and 41% disapproving. But like Pingree he's benefiting from the fact that he has an unknown and not particularly well liked opponent. 68% of voters don't know enough about Levesque to have formed an opinion and his favorability is a negative 15/17 spread with those who have.
This race is probably going to tighten up because 21% of Republicans are undecided while only 10% of Democrats are. Michaud has his party base pretty much locked up at 81% while Levesque's getting only 65% of his party as many remain undecided. Michaud is also leading 43-34 with independents despite the fact that they disapprove of him by a 34/46 margin.
Obviously it's better to be ahead than behind so in that sense these numbers are good news for Democrats. But Pingree and Michaud's leads are largely predicated on weak opposition rather than their own popularity so it's going to be interesting to see what happens in the last 8 weeks if the Republicans have the resources to really run strong campaigns. And if this is where the numbers are in these generally Democratic leaning districts you wonder how bad off Democratic incumbents are in some of the districts where we haven't seen any polling.
Full results here.