A new poll commissioned by WBUR radio news in Boston finds that Independent Angus King has a commanding lead in the race to replace US Senator Olympia Snowe in Maine. Asked who they would support in the race if the election were held today, 50% of likely voters in the poll said they would cast their ballots for King, who governed the state as an Independent from 1995-2003. Maine's Secretary of State Charlie Summers, a Republican, came in a distant second with 23% support. The Democratic candidate, State Senator Cynthia Dill is just below the double digit threshold at 9%.
Not surprisingly, King is also considered the most favorable candidate of these three by likely voters in the state. 60% of those polled said they have a favorable opinion of the former governor while just 13% said they have an unfavorable opinion of him. King is a well known figure in the state, just 5% of those polled said they had never heard of him. The situation is quite different for Summers and Dill. 27% of those polled said they have a favorable opinion of the Republican candidate, 15% said they view him unfavorably, and 23% said they have never heard of him. Democrat Cynthia Dill faces an uphill battle for recognition in the race. 35% said they had never heard of her, while 14% said they view her favorably and 15% said they do not have a favorable opinion of her.
King was elected governor in 1994 in a tight four-way race in which he received just over 35% of the vote. He proved to be a popular governor and was re-elected four years later with 58.6% of the vote. In 2002, King could not seek re-election for the office due to term limits. For the sake of comparison, consider that Maine's current governor, Republican Paul LePage, is viewed favorably by 41% of likely voters while 50% have an unfavorable opinion of him. LePage was elected in 2010 with 38.3% support in a close contest with Independent Eliot Cutler, who received 36.5% of the vote.
There are at least two more declared candidates in the race to replace US Senator Olympia Snowe, who announced that she would not seek re-election earlier this year. Both of these individuals are also running as Independents. Andrew Ian Dodge left the Republican party this past February declaring that he has “no faith that the Maine Republicans can run a fair primary.” Dodge is now affiliated with the Libertarian party of Maine and designates himself politically as an Independent for Liberty. Steve Woods is a member of the town council in Yarmouth, Maine, and is also seeking the office of US Senate as an Independent.
In his campaign Angus King has recently been emphasizing the importance of reforming the campaign finance system, and has gone so far as to state that the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United was “the worst decision since Dred Scott.”
“I firmly believe that campaign finance laws must be reformed – nameless, faceless, out-of-state money should not try to tell you how to vote. We must start with real-time, mandated disclosure of who is contributing money,” says King on his campaign website.
Since announcing his candidacy, King has been the target of attacks from both Republicans and Democrats but hopes that his campaign will inspire others to seek an Independent route to elected office.
“I’ve come to realize that an unencumbered U.S. senator is a profound threat to the whole system. In other words, it’s somebody that they can’t put in a box and say, oh, well, we know how this guy is going to vote. That has raised the stakes,” he said in a recent interview.
The WBUR poll was conducted from June 13-14th and included results from 506 likely voters. Its margin of error was +/- 4.4%.