Ethan: Hut, hut, hike?
Ethan: Oh, you must be referring to the new poll that shows Gov. Paul LePage leading all comers 39 percent to 37 percent for Mike Michaud to 20 percent for Eliot Cutler.
Phil: Correctomundo. We have a long way to Election Day, but this credible poll indicates LePage’s demise may be a tad exaggerated.
Ethan: Well, I have certainly never guaranteed that he would have to pack up the Blaine House. In fact, I have said from the beginning that this is his race to lose. What this poll shows is that there’s a real possibility of 2010 happening all over again. As long as people support a strong third-party candidate in the race, LePage’s chances of reelection are better than his chances of being beaten.
Phil: Certainly the three-way dynamic helps, but LePage has also gone up a point-and-a-half since the last time Pan Atlantic SMS Group polled the issue. That is remarkable, since usually incumbents lose ground during the legislative session when everyone has to watch sausage get made.
Ethan: As you have said with every other poll that has shown Michaud in the lead, we are only in the first quarter. There were, however, some other interesting “gems” in the poll. Like when people were asked “what is the most important issue facing Maine today,” no one said welfare reform. Let me say that again. No one said welfare reform. Maybe you could mention that to your Republican colleagues who appear obsessed with jailing the 0.0002 percent of people who inappropriately spent $8 on a pack of cigarettes.
Phil: And yet, when asked if they feel “welfare fraud is rampant,” 55 percent said yes. I would say the statistics you cite and the respondents need to compromise. Clearly Mainers believe there needs to be changes in the system.
Ethan: Or, LePage has done a masterful job convincing people of something that doesn’t exist.
Phil: I also noticed that your man Obama is seriously underwater. People disapprove of the job he is doing 55 percent to 41 percent, including 54 percent of independents. Compared to LePage where 52 percent of independents support him, that may be a bit of foreshadowing for the fall. If your folks aren’t happy with the leader of your party, I see clouds on the horizon for Dems, my friend.
Ethan: Don’t get too excited. While 55 percent may disapprove of Obama, 52 percent disapprove of LePage.
Phil: Those three points could make all the difference between a Republican majority and a Democratic majority.
Ethan: What’s your take on the issue of compromise? The poll asked respondents if they wanted their elected officials to compromise more or stand firm on ideology. In the great Maine tradition, 70 percent of Democrats and Independents said yes, we want compromise. Republicans? Only 44 percent want compromise. Who are these people?
Phil: They are people who want two plus two to equal four. People who want government to stop growing and focus on superior results for what it is already doing. People who believe in the free market as the best answer to grow our economy. Not the government.
Ethan: So Republicans like Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Bill Cohen don’t believe that two plus two equals four? They were certainly in the tradition of Maine politicians who put accomplishment ahead of ideology.
Phil: Yes, they did and do. But at the state level, Republicans are still trying to get out from under 40 years of Democrats running the Legislature. The “compromise” you speak of is what brought us to this state of the state. Underemployment, lagging education results, chasing successful people out of Maine with higher taxes leaving those who stay with the bill.
Ethan: Oh stop playing the victim. There have been just as many Republican governors in the past 40 years as there have been Democrats. You know as well as anyone that your party has shifted very hard to the right and a bit too far toward intransigence.
Phil: On the contrary. The issue is simply that your party has been frustrated by LePage blocking their attempts to grow government. Democrats want compromise because compromise means LePage backing down.
Ethan: You realize you are choosing to side with about 30 percent of the people. Go there at your own risk, but I choose the 62 percent who believe compromise is best. A good example is the almost 80 percent approval rating Collins holds. To paraphrase the Beatles, she appears more popular than Jesus Christ these days.
Phil: Hello, have you noticed that the Republican legislators just “compromised” to pass yet another fix to keep Maine’s budget in balance?
Ethan: Hello, did you notice they didn’t compromise on welfare reform, health care for the poor, or closing corporate loopholes in our tax code?
Phil: And did you see how strong Sen. Collins is? Almost an 80 percent approval rate! She keeps her head down. Works hard for Maine. Doesn’t get caught up in partisan politics. And it looks like your candidate Shenna still has some work to do?
Ethan: Yes. It appears less than 15 percent of Maine people know who she is. But of those who do, more like her than don’t. Something to build upon. But this campaign has hardly even started yet. Lots of time between now and Election Day to get on TV and spread her message.
Phil: Yes, lots of time for all these campaigns to prove themselves, or not. And much more time for us to pontificate until the we know the results of the only poll that matters — Election Day.