Maine Governor Race 2010

Governor of Maine, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Paul LePage 37.6% 218,065
     Independent Eliot R. Cutler 35.9% 208,270
     Democratic Elizabeth Mitchell 18.8% 109,387
     Independent Shawn H. Moody 5.0% 28,756
     Independent Kevin L. Scott 1.0% 5,664
     Others Various 0.5% 2,624
     Blanks* - 1.3% 7,772
Total Votes 100.0% 580,538
Official Election Results Via: Maine Secretary of State.
* "Blank" evidently also includes all spoilage types, e.g. overvoting, combined.

We studied the next (2014) Maine governor election in much greater detail. However, this 2010 race also was a pathological race ruined by Maine's plurality voting system, and – just like in the 2014 race – Cutler should have won, but was prevented from winning because of the voting system. Cutler was by far the most popular candidate, and LePage won despite the fact that a majority of Maine voters didn't like him. 51% of them had an unfavorable opinion of LePage versus only 42% who saw him in a positive light according to a PPP approval-style poll 26-28 October 2010 of 1812 likely voters:

   Approval Voting (Fav/Unfav):
     Eliot Cutler    46/33
     Paul LePage     42/51
     Libby Mitchell  31/56

Similarly in the PanAtlantic/SMS "omnibus poll" 11-15 October 2010 (501 likely voters, phone) the results were

   Approval Voting (Fav/Unfav):
     Eliot Cutler    43.2 / 21.2
     Libby Mitchell  45.3 / 42.5
     Paul LePage     41.3 / 47.5
     Shawn Moody     30.3 / 16.6
     Kevin Scott      8.2 / 18.4

In the words of that PPP poll's summary,

Cutler is easily the most popular candidate in the race, with 46% of voters seeing him positively to only 33% with an unfavorable opinion. His problem is that a lot of people who like him aren't planning to vote for him. Among voters with a favorable opinion of Cutler only 56% actually plan to vote for him while 21% are going for LePage and 18% plan to support Mitchell. To put it in comparison 87% of voters who like LePage are also planning to cast their ballots for him, which is why he's beating Cutler by such a wide margin despite being less popular.

It seems virtually certain that if Mitchell had dropped out, Cutler would have defeated LePage (since Dem. voters, as is shown by the "crosstabs" in the PPP poll, preferred Cutler over LePage by a large margin). The plurality system gave no way for voters to express their feelings about all 3 candidates.

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