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Maine’s contest to succeed Governor Paul LePage is tied, poll finds

Main Governor Paul LePage.
Main Governor Paul LePage.Andrew Harnik/Associated Press/Associated Press

A new poll of Maine voters released Wednesday shows a tied race for the candidates seeking to replace Republican Governor Paul G. LePage, who is term-limited and cannot run again.

Businessman Shawn Moody, a Republican, and Attorney General Janet Mills, a Democrat, each had 39 percent in the survey released by the Suffolk University Political Research Center.

In the first public survey since the June primary, 16 percent said they were undecided, and a pair of independent candidates received less than 7 percent combined. The poll surveyed 500 registered voters who said they were either “almost certain” or will “probably vote” in November. The margin of error for the poll, taken Aug. 2 through 6, was plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

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The poll also had some bad news for President Trump. In the 2016 election, Trump performed better than any Republican nominee had in Maine since 1988. He lost the state by 3 percentage points but won the northern and Down East areas, allowing him to pick up one of the state’s two congressional districts for the Electoral College.

But this poll suggests that Trump is now less popular there. Trump is only favored by 40 percent in this poll, while 54 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion.

“Trump was really interesting in Maine in 2016, but he has lost his shine there,” said Suffolk pollster David Paleologos.

Additionally, 46 percent said they wanted their vote in November “to change the direction President Trump is leading the nation,” while 30 percent said that wanted their vote to support Trump. About a fifth of respondents said Trump had nothing to do with their vote.

When it came to Senator Angus King’s reelection, those polled were asked about their most important issue in the race and given a list of eight topics like immigration, the economy, and foreign affairs. The top “issue” in the race was Trump, at least for nearly a quarter of respondents.

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King, a former governor and independent who caucuses with Democrats, had a comfortable lead in the survey. In a hypothetical matchup against his opponents, King gets 52 percent, while Republican nominee Eric Brakey gets 25 percent, Democrat Zak Ringelstein received 9 percent, and 15 percent were undecided.

King’s support — over the threshold of 50 percent — is key because it means he would be the automatic winner under Maine’s new system of ranked choice voting.

King’s dominance also means that most attention in the state will be given to the governor’s race and the state’s Second Congressional District, where Representative Bruce Poliquin, a Republican, is seeking reelection in a competitive district. While Poliquin’s reelection was not polled, the survey did give some insight into key votes there in the race for governor.

While both Moody and Mills were both liked by roughly the same percentages, those still making up their minds are voters who are younger, independent voters who live in the Down East region.


James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his Ground Game newsletter on politics:http://pages.email.bostonglobe.com/GroundGameSignUp