Public Policy Polling released numbers today on Maine’s congressional races in both the first and second district, and they have some good (though not great) results for the incumbents.
Both Democratic incumbents – Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud – had solid leads over their Republican challengers. In the First Congressional District, Pingree led Eliot businessman Dean Scontras 47%-38%, with 15% undecided. In the Second, Michaud led Auburn businessman Jason Levesque 45%-38%, with 17% undecided. Both challengers have significant ground to make up, a difficult – though not impossible – task.
The numbers from both districts had some commonalities: weak approval numbers for the incumbents, high party loyalty, and unknown challengers. Pingree had just a 40%-39% approval rating, with 39% disapproval; Michaud’s approval was 39%, with 41% disapproving. This is well below the 50% mark for approval usually considered to indicate a vulnerable incumbent. A well-known, well-funded candidate in either district could give the incumbent a tough race.
However, these challengers were virtually unknown – 60% had no opinion of Scontras and 68% had no opinion of Levesque. This is directly reflective of their lack of financial resources and their status as relative political newcomers. To change before November, both candidates would have to build up their reputations while knocking down their opponent’s.
Unless they see an influx of money, they’re unlikely to be able to do so. Levesque and Scontras will probably do better than Republicans have recently in their districts, and these numbers could change. However, Maine’s incumbent members of Congress appear to be well on their way towards winning re-election – even in what is shaping up to be a difficult year for other Democrats.