Maine Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin and Democratic challenger Jared Golden were neck and neck in the latter’s first survey of the general election in the 2nd District, with Golden’s position strengthening under a simulation of the state’s new ranked-choice voting system.
Poliquin led Golden 40 percent to 39 percent in the initial matchup, according to a polling memo obtained first by Roll Call.
Minor party candidates earned a combined 4 percent in the initial test, while 16 percent were undecided. The Mellman Group surveyed 400 likely voters by telephone from July 25-30. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
The poll found Golden, the state House assistant majority leader, picking up votes under ranked-choice voting, which will be in place for the general election for the first time this fall. The new system lets voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no one receives a majority, the last-place finisher is eliminated and his or her votes reallocated to the candidates whom voters ranked second. The process continues until someone secures more than 50 percent of the vote.
To simulate the first round, the pollsters first removed undecided voters. Under this model, Poliquin led Golden 48 percent to 47 percent. Independent candidates Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar received 4 percent and 2 percent, respectively.
The survey asked likely voters to rank their choices, as they would in the actual election. Hoar was eliminated first and his votes were reallocated to the remaining candidates, which left Golden and Poliquin tied at 48 percent and Bond at 4 percent.
After Bond was eliminated in the simulation’s third round, Golden moved into a 51 percent to 49 percent lead over Poliquin.
The survey also tested the favorable ratings of the two candidates. Forty-two percent of voters had a favorable view of Poliquin, while 44 percent had an unfavorable view. The congressman’s job performance was rated negatively by 58 percent of voters and positively by 33 percent.
Golden was less well-known, with 30 percent of voters viewing him favorably and 10 percent viewing him unfavorably.
A Marine veteran, Golden won the Democratic nod in June, also under ranked-choice voting. He outraised Poliquin during the second quarter of the year that ended June 30, $422,000 to $350,000. But he started the general election at a significant cash-on-hand disadvantage with $357,000 in the bank compared to Poliquin’s $2.7 million.