PPP: King early edge over U.S. Senate field

Public Policy Polling on Tuesday released its first survey of the potential Maine U.S. Senate race. 

The results show that former independent Gov. Angus King has the early edge over a field that includes Democrat U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree and Republican Secretary of State Charlie Summers. King holds a 36-31-28 lead over Pingree and Summers, respectively. 

King entered the senate race on Monday. Pingree and Summers have been actively collecting signatures to get into their party’s respective primaries. However, King’s entrance in the race has complicated matters for Pingree. 

The poll shows that Pingree would easily defeat Summers in a two-way race, just as she did in 2006 when the two went head-to-head for the 1st Congressional District. 

However, King’s popularity changes the dynamic for both party candidates. The survey shows King with a 62-24 favorability rating. Seventy-four percent of Democrats like him, as do 69 percent of independents. A majority of Republicans surveyed, 43 percent, favor King.

Pingree also had strong favorability numbers, but mostly among Democrats. Republican candidates, meanwhile, appear to be relative unknowns. 

The GOP field is comprised of Rick Bennett, Summers, Attorney General William Schneider, state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin and Scott D’Amboise. 

Only two of the candidates broke the 50 percent threshold for name recognition, Poliquin and Summers. However, most respondents had an unfavorable view of both. 

The upside for Republicans, however, may be that the candidates will see increased name recognition during the campaign. King, on the other hand, could see his numbers drop as he unveils his policy positions. 

Here’s what PPP had to say:

Against just Summers, Pingree leads 53-37, locking up 85% of Democrats, 51% of independents, and 12% of Republicans, but that slips to only 56%, 25%, and 5% with King in the mix.  King is by far the most popular of the 11 candidates tested, with a 62-24 favorability margin, but his challenge will be keeping that Democratic support.  If he were to win, 51% of his supporters would want him to caucus with the Democrats and only 25% with the Republicans.  That includes a 40-27 margin with his independent supporters and 79-6 with Democrats.  He may have to pledge to align himself with Harry Reid and company if he wants to hold onto his slim advantage. 

Angus King and Chellie Pingree look like the early favorites in Maine,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “King will have a hard time holding onto his early Democratic support without a pledge to caucus with the party if he’s elected to the Senate.”

PPP Release ME 0306