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.