Monday, March 14, 2011

Maine narrowly favors gay marriage, Collins very popular but LePage not

In November 2009, Maine voters rejected the state’s then new law legalizing same-sex marriage, but more than a year removed from that vote, voters are now narrowly in favor of legalizing these unions once again. 47% want gay marriage to be the law, and 45% oppose it being legal. The quarter of voters who claim to be independents overwhelmingly support same-sex unions, 56-37, along with 71% of Democrats, but 21% of Democrats and 77% of Republicans prefer the status quo, keeping the margin close.

As in most places across the country, only senior citizens, those over the age of 65, resist change, rejecting progress by a 38-50 margin. Pluralities to slim majorities of every other age group favor same-sex marriage--51% of those under 30 and even 50% of voters between 45 and 65, who make up a 44% plurality. The youngest bracket is only 6% of the electorate, and the oldest 20%, so right now, those most opposed are more than three times as numerous at the voting booths as those most in favor. We're seeing this trend everywhere we poll the issue. Public opinion has been pretty rapidly changing over the last few decades, and eventually, as with every other civil rights issue in the past, the tide will turn as the more socially inclusive younger voters become the bulk of the electorate.

New Governor Paul LePage is considerably more popular than his predecessor, Democrat John Baldacci, who had a 2:1 disapproval-approval margin in PPP’s final poll before the 2010 election (29-58). But LePage is still underwater with Maine voters, not getting much of a honeymoon at all. 43% approve, but 48% disapprove of his job performance so far, putting him in almost as bad shape as polarizing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and ousted Ohio Governor Ted Strickland in recent PPP polls of those states. Independents are down on LePage, 38-50, and slightly more Democrats disapprove than Republicans approve.

LePage still is pretty popular with Republicans, though, so throwing his weight behind Olympia Snowe in the primary could help her survive with the Tea Party voters that pushed him to victory last fall and who now are hungrily searching for a truer believer than Snowe.

Maine’s junior Senator Susan Collins is not quite as popular as her senior colleague, Snowe, but is still one of the country’s most popular senators with her constituents. Collins has a 56-34 approval-disapproval ratio, up a bit from a few months ago. Like Snowe, Collins is more popular with Democrats than even independents, and certainly better liked than by her own party. Republicans approve only 48-42, but Democrats and independents give Collins almost identical 61-30 and 60-30 margins.

In terms of voter perception, Collins and Snowe really are RINOs. They may still vote to the right of every Democrat in the Senate, but they've got to be the only politicians who almost split their party down the middle and are overwhelmingly embraced by everyone else. Looking at these numbers, you can practically feel Republicans shunning them and Democrats and independents beckoning them away from the GOP.

Rep. Mike Michaud, the senior of the state's two congressmen by three terms, has a 54-28 favorability margin statewide, better than his colleague Chellie Pingree’s 45-39. Both are Democrats. Michaud does so much better because while roughly three-quarters of Democrats like each, Michaud has a 30-49 margin with the opposite party. Pingree, like most politicians, polarizes the two parties, and also does not quite match Michaud’s very healthy 57-24 with independents, getting only 47-33.

Full results here.


fladem said...

What I find interesting about the PPP polling in March is the cross tabs on age. In this poll those 18-29 are 6%. In 2004 that group was 17% of the vote and 2008 it was 16%.

The question on the table is pretty obvious: are these polls suggesting a huge dropoff in the youth vote in 2012 OR is this a function of the fact that the race is not engaged yet. If the latter is true, one can argue these polls are sigificantly understating probable Democratic strength.

Some other recent polls show the same thing:
Missouri - In 2008 voters 18-29 made up 21% of the electorate, in the PPP poll they make up 10%.
Virginia - in 2008 they made up 21%of the electorate and in 2004 they made up 17%. In the PPP poll they made up 9%.
North Carolina - In 2004 they made up 14% of the electorate and in 2008 they made up 16% of the electorate. In the PPP poll they made up 10%.
Wisconsin: In the PPP poll they made up 10%, in 2008 they made up 22% and in 2004 20%.

Anonymous said...

It's not just that those over 65 are a larger percent of the electorate than the youngest group, it's also that those over 65 turn out to vote at rate of 90% as opposed to the 25% turnout of the typical under 30 voter.

Joe Mustich & Ken Cornet said...

It's time ME.

Onward to full marriage equality rights now in America, where marriage is firstly a civil and contractual matter. Period.

Cheers, Joe Mustich,
CT Justice of the Peace, USA.

Dustin Ingalls said...

"It's not just that those over 65 are a larger percent of the electorate than the youngest group, it's also that those over 65 turn out to vote at rate of 90% as opposed to the 25% turnout of the typical under 30 voter."

That's what it means when they're a larger share of the electorate. The electorate is only those who turn out, unless you're talking about the eligible electorate. This is a poll of registered voters, but it does in some sense reflect eagerness to vote through the response rate. Those more likely to vote are more likely to stick through the whole poll. It's a large part of why Democrats are doing better in our polling now than they did in the polls last fall or even last summer before we started our likely voter screen.

Anonymous said...

Narrow leads are not good enough. The bigots will come in with their secret donor millions and fear mongering TV ads about how the children are in danger etc. etc. and easily reverse a narrow lead.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's correct to characterize LePage as "still underwater" with 43% approval. While it's less than 50%, that's not the relevant number given the last election. LePage got less than 39% of the vote in November - that means that he's added more than 4% to his approval rating. He's made some pretty divisive public comments since his inauguration (NAACP can kiss his butt, we should permit BPA in the state since the worst that will happen is that women will get little beards) so this advance is actually pretty interesting news.

Anonymous said...

Why is your survey only 26% independents when Maine voters are more like 40% independents? Did this help you get the results you wanted?

Tom Jensen said...

Assuming you think the results we wanted were to show LePage as unpopular and support for gay marriage, independents gave LePage worse numbers than the population as a whole and independents gave gay marriage stronger support than the population as a whole. So more independents would mean worse numbers for LePage and better numbers for gay marriage. So much for your theory...

Anonymous said...

I did not, in fact, think that.

I was asking why your poll had 9% fewer Independents than the actual voting registration. That's a fairly large differential that could skew the results, and it's reasonable to assume that was done for a reason rather than by accident.

Perhaps you could answer the question like a professional instead of being automatically defensive and ascribing motives to me and putting words in my mouth.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for knocking down a theory I never had or enunciated, though. Any other imaginary theories of mine you want to argue with?

If you're going to reply to comments, reply to what people actually write, why don't you?

Tom Jensen said...

So what then did you mean by the question 'Did this help you get the results you wanted?'

Anonymous said...

For the record, this poll's sample was 39% Democratic, 36% Republican, 26% Independent. Actual registered voters in Maine are 33% Democratic, 28% Republican, and 35% Independent.

PPP essentially switched the percentage of Republicans with the percentage of Independents, and I'd be interested to know why.

Anonymous said...

I meant, 'Did this help you get the results you wanted?'

Dustin Ingalls said...

We don't weight for party--only gender, race, and age. We report the results we get and let the proportions of each party (or the unenrolled, as they're called in Maine) fall where they may. Party turnout fluctuates from election to election, as we all saw in the drastic swings between 2008 and 2010 and already between last fall and now. Just because independents are 35% of the registered electorate doesn't mean they're going to be 35% of the people who vote. They tend to turn out at lower rates than do partisans. You also have to consider that this is a self-reported question. We don't base it off of registered voter data. Some independents report themselves as Democrats when they're feeling particularly "blue," and as Republicans when they're angry at a Democratic president, like last fall.

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