If they didn’t see it last night when it was first posted, Democrats woke up to some bad news this morning: The new nonpartisan Portland Press Herald/UNH poll gave incumbent Paul LePage a 10-point lead over Congressman Mike Michaud in the race for Governor, 45-35-16.
The results are bad news for Michaud on a number of levels. First of all, if accurate, this big a difference this late in the game is going to be difficult to overcome. However, besides that obvious problem, the poll also destroys a central narrative of this election for Democrats: That LePage is only winning because of Eliot Cutler.
LePage holds a smaller, though still substantial, lead over Michaud in a hypothetical two-way contest, 50-43%. In addition, in a contest between Cutler and LePage, the Governor still leads, albeit very narrowly by one point, well within the margin of error for the poll.
This poll shows not only that LePage has very good odds of winning reelection, but that he’d still have good odds of winning in a two-way race against either candidate. The dynamic has shifted since the spring, when polls showed him trailing Cutler or Michaud substantially in a one-on-one matchup. Months of campaigning have built up the Governor’s support, not eroded it, and have shown that the enthusiasm edge in this election belongs to the GOP.
This is all very bad news for the Democrats, as it indicates that they’ll be losing not only an election, but their favorite excuse as well. If the Democrats want to win back the Blaine House in the future, they might want to encourage good candidates to get into the race, rather than trying to bully people out of it.