Poll: Brennan leads Strimling in Portland mayoral race

(Updated with Storify element showing Tipping’s Twitter analysis and response to questions about the poll. - S.M.)

A poll released today by the Maine People’s Resource Center shows that Michael Brennan is leading a field of contenders in the Portland mayoral race. However, given that the election will be decided by ranked choice voting, Ethan Strimling is very much in the hunt.

The poll, posted below, was sponsored by Down East Magazine. It surveyed over 477 likely Portland voters who were asked about nine of the 15 candidates. The poll’s margin of error is 4.44 percent.

Brennan leads with 27.4 percent, followed by Strimling (21.6 percent ) and Nick Mavadones (12.6 percent), according to the results. 

Mike Tipping, who oversaw the survey, wrote about the results on his blog:

This kind of public poll, taking into account ranked choice voting and attempting to extrapolate election results based on voter preference, is unique in Maine and is likely unique in the United States. In other jurisdictions where ranked-choice voting is used, polling has mostly only measured first choice candidate preferences.

One thing that is clear from these results is that second, third and further choices of candidates can matter in the outcome of a ranked choice election. Between the two frontrunners, for instance, the original margin is relatively small, but Brennan’s lead grows as he accrues a larger percentage of second choice votes. If relative second place preferences were reversed, Strimling would pass Brennan and win the election.

An important factor to consider in the results: The poll did not measure the support of five candidates and begins projecting results round six of RCV voting. The also does not measure fourth and further candidate preferences, which, according to the survey, causes some “ballots to be ‘exhausted’ more quickly than they might in an actual election.