PTP / MECPO Poll Shows Pingree-Scontras Race Tightening

In our second installment of polling numbers, we will take a look at the results from the first congressional district – specifically the race between Chellie Pingree and Dean Scontras.

Both congressional districts have been under-polled, and the polling that we have gotten has been highly suspect.  The last two Critical Insights polls have shown large leads for Pingree, but in both cases the sample size and partisan skew of the survey made the results extremely unreliable.  The only poll that has been conducted with a solid sample of voters has been from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

We hope our poll provides some clarity to the race – and given the similarity of our results with PPP’s, we think it has.

The full results are as follows:

  • Chellie Pingree – 46.0%
  • Dean Scontras - 38.4%
  • Undecided - 15.6%

The basic distribution of the voter sample for our poll was as follows:

Sample Size

  • 346 likely voters

Margin of Error

  • 5.27% in the first congressional district

Polling Window

  • The survey was conducted October 4th through October 7th.

Party Registration

  • Democratic - 34.1%
  • Republican - 30.35%
  • Unenrolled - 29.77%
  • Green - 5.78%

Gender

  • 51.3% male
  • 48.7% female

When looking at the preferences of members of the various political parties, we can see that Dean Scontras has slightly stronger support among Republicans than Chellie Pingree has among Democrats.  At the same time, Scontras is attracting a higher number of Democrats than Pingree is attracting Republicans.  This is exactly what Scontras wants if he is going to have a realistic shot to win this race.

Pingree’s advantage in this race appears to be with unenrolled voters.  While Scontras appears to have fought Pingree to a relative draw amongst partisan voters, the unenrolled voters are breaking heavy for Pingree.  If Scontras wants to win this race, he is going to have to eat into that advantage, and start to win over the first district’s independent voters.

Republican Preferences

  • Dean Scontras – 67.6%
  • Chellie Pingree – 18.1%
  • Undecided – 14.3%

Democratic Preferences

  • Chellie Pingree – 61.9%
  • Dean Scontras – 22.0%
  • Undecided – 16.1%

Unenrolled Preferences

  • Chellie Pingree – 56.3%
  • Dean Scontras – 29.1%
  • Undecided – 14.6%

At the same time, of the voters who said they had made up their mind about who they wanted to vote for, Republican Dean Scontras is showing a somewhat less solidified base than Pingree.  Pingree’s supporters are tad more devoted to their candidate than Scontras.  When asked to describe how strongly they were behind their choice for Governor, the candidates showed the following support from voters:

Dean Scontras

  • Strong - 66.9%
  • Lean – 33.1%

Chellie Pingree

  • Strong – 73.6%
  • Lean -26.4%

The preferences by gender show a 6.2% lead for Dean Scontras among men and a whopping 22.6% lead for Chellie Pingree among women.  If Scontras really wants to make this a race, he is going to have to win over a greater percentage of women voters, without question.

Male Preferences

  • Dean Scontras – 46.3%
  • Chellie Pingree – 40.1%
  • Undecided – 13.6%

Female Preferences

  • Chellie Pingree – 52.4%
  • Dean Scontras – 29.8%
  • Undecided – 17.9%

So what do these results really tell us?

Well the obvious is that Scontras needs to do much better among women and unenrolled voters if he is going to win.  Everything else is aligned perfectly for him to make this a competitive race.

But before I even had a chance to write my own interpretation of these poll numbers, others were giving their two cents.  Reaction to our poll was pretty swift, and slightly amusing from some.  In Rebekah Metzler’s article on our poll, a rather obtuse statement was issued from the Pingree campaign in reaction:

“I’d say this poll is inconsistent with every other poll we’ve seen, but it’s not surprising that a poll conducted for a conservative website paints a rosier picture for a conservative candidate,” he said. “Regardless of what any of the polls show, Chellie continues to work hard every day.”

This is, of course, campaign spin.

First of all, this poll is not even remotely close to inconsistent with “every other poll” he has seen.  The September survey from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling – which was the last poll conducted with a sample large enough in either congressional district to even be taken seriously – showed Pingree leading Scontras 47%-38%, with 15% undecided.

Interesting, that seems to be very (very) similar to the result we showed:  46%-38%, with about 16% undecided.  Wow.  What was that about our poll being inconsistent again?

Secondly, the poll being commissioned by a “conservative website” means our poll is skewed to paint a rosier picture for a conservative candidate?  Indeed – that must be why our polling data showed Paul LePage’s lead in the gubernatorial race down to a single point.  Must be our slant.

The fact is, we stand by the integrity of the numbers put out in this poll by MECPO, and with good reason.

The numbers above show Pingree in the driver’s seat, without question.  But they also show Scontras as a legitimate contender who – given the right circumstances – has a shot of winning the race.  A seven point lead is significant, but for an incumbent who is under 50% support, it is hardly comfortable.

Watch for more results of our poll coming up soon.

Editor’s note: Matt has previously done some minor consulting work for the Dean Scontras for Congress campaign (such as the redesign of his campaign website).  Pine Tree Politics believes in full disclosure and wanted to make sure this was clear to anyone who read this article.

Matthew Gagnon

About Matthew Gagnon

Matthew Gagnon, a Hampden native, is a Republican political operative. He serves as the Director of Digital Strategy for the Republican Governors Association, and has previously worked for Senator Susan Collins and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.