BOSTON, Massachusetts — Editor's note: The above video explains how polling works.
A recent Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll, which surveyed 500 Maine voters likely to casts ballots in the November General Election, shows Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden with a double-digit lead over President Donald Trump, with 51 percent to 39 percent.
Republican incumbent Sen. Susan Collins’ Democratic challenger Sara Gideon is leading with 46 percent of the vote to Collins’ 41 percent. Independents Lisa Savage and Max Linn followed with 4 percent and 2 percent, respectively. The poll showed 5 percent of voters are still undecided.
Ranked-choice voting will be used in Maine’s Senate race, meaning voters rank candidates in order of preference, and no winner is declared until one candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote. If no candidate reaches 50 percent, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and their voters are reallocated based on their second-choice candidate.
The General Election ballots will be printed with ranked-choice format for the presidential race as well, but it remains to be seen whether ranked-choice will be implemented for the race.
“At this point in the campaign, Joe Biden does not need ranked-choice voting to put him over the top,” David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston, said.
Demographically, the poll shows Biden has widespread support, including among self-identified moderates (57 percent – 28 percent). He even was backed by 11 percent of registered Republicans in Maine and 8 percent of 2016 Trump voters.
Meanwhile, Gideon led 81-10 percent among those identifying as liberal while Collins led 84-4 percent among those identifying as conservative. However, among the swath of voters poised to swing the outcome – moderates – Gideon led 52-37 percent.
In addition, Gideon’s overall popularity (56 percent favorable – 37 percent unfavorable) was second only to Maine Sen. Angus King (59 percent favorable – 28 percent unfavorable). Collins is struggling with popularity, recording a 45 percent favorable – 45 percent unfavorable rating.
“Sara Gideon’s popularity is tailor-made for ranked choice voting,” Paleologos said. “She edges Sen. Collins in the first-choice round and then extends that lead among the third-party voters who like Gideon next.”
Among the 31 respondents in the poll who did not choose Gideon or Collins in the first round, 48 percent chose Gideon and 19 percent chose Collins.
The poll also surveyed how Maine voters feel about Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and how they feel about mail-in voting.
Fifty-four percent of voters scored Trump’s coronavirus performance as “poor” and 10 perfect gave him a “fair” rating.
Mainers were also skeptical about taking a COVID-19 vaccine immediately after one becomes available. Just 31 percent of likely voters said they would take a vaccine right away while 50 percent would wait a while until others took it, and 16 percent said they would not take the vaccine.
While roughly half of Maine voters said they would choose to mail in their ballots before Election Day, there is concern that widespread mail-in voting will lead to voter fraud. Nearly 54 percent said they were very or somewhat concerned, while 44 percent were not very or not at all concerned. The issue has become partisan as 75 percent of Democrats were not very/not at all concerned while 84 percent of Republicans were very/somewhat concerned. Among unaffiliated voters, concern split 62 percent very/somewhat concerned versus 34 percent not very/not at all concerned.
The poll, which was conducted Sept. 17 through Sept. 20 using live telephone interviews, has a margin of error of +/-4.4 percentage points at a 95 percent level of confidence.
Read the complete results of the poll here: