AUGUSTA – Maine’s spending limit ballot proposal known as TABOR was lagging in a poll released Thursday, while Democratic Gov. John Baldacci led his re-election challengers with less than two weeks left before the election.
Critical Insights Inc. of Portland said 48 percent of the likely voters it surveyed oppose the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, while 40 percent favor passage. Ten percent were undecided and 2 percent didn’t know.
TABOR campaign spokesman Roy Lenardson said the survey may be useful in spotting voter moods and trends, but it does not foretell the outcome of Nov. 7 voting.
“It’s going to be a tight race right down to the wire,” Lenardson said.
A spokesman for the group Citizens United, which is trying to defeat TABOR, said he was “encouraged but cautious” after seeing the results. Dennis Bailey said the polls suggest a shift in his campaign’s direction, but he still had questions as to whether the figures are representative of Mainers who will actually vote Nov. 7.
In Maine’s gubernatorial race, Baldacci led Republican Chandler Woodcock 42 percent to 25 percent in Critical Insights’ survey of 600 likely voters. Results of the phone survey, which was conducted during the week ending Monday, had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
Eleven percent of those surveyed favored independent Barbara Merrill, while 7 percent supported Green Independent Pat LaMarche and 1 percent independent Phillip Morris NaPier. A total of 12 percent said they were undecided or didn’t know.
MaryEllen FitzGerald of the nonpartisan Critical Insights said the poll numbers showed a close correlation between voters’ views on TABOR and their gubernatorial favorites, with those supporting Baldacci likely to oppose it and those favoring Woodcock likely to support TABOR.
Supporters of Merrill’s gubernatorial campaign were evenly split on TABOR, which seeks to restrict spending at the state and local levels to population growth and consumer price increases, unless voters and elected officials allow spending to surpass that level.
In congressional races, all three incumbents – Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe and Democratic Reps. Tom Allen and Michael Michaud – had comfortable leads over their challengers.
The survey reflected little change in likely voters’ rating of President Bush since a Critical Insights survey last spring. The latest results show unfavorable ratings by 59 percent, favorable by 24 percent and 17 percent undecided.
The independent polling firm said Bush’s support was highest among men, those with less education and residents of the 2nd Congressional District.
Critical Insights is not contributing to any campaign or supporting any candidate, FitzGerald said.