With less than a week until the polls open, Maine voters are looking at a three-horse race for governor.
Different polls have shown a considerable amount of variety. The most recent, a Rasmussen Reports survey released Thursday, had Republican Paul LePage ahead with 40 percent of the vote, followed by Democrat Libby Mitchell and Independent Eliot Cutler tied at 26 percent. Cutler has made significant gains in recent weeks.
Professor of Government and Legal Studies Christian Potholm said on Monday that it was very unusual for a Maine gubernatorial election to not have been decided at this point.
"I can't think of a time in the 20th or 21st century in Maine where we have three candidates within striking distance," Potholm said.
Professor of Government and Legal Studies Michael Franz felt there was still time for things to change.
"It's still a fluid race," Franz said on Tuesday. "There are a very high number of undecideds, which could send the election in any given direction."
Ultimately, Franz felt LePage was the best bet to win.
Potholm said it was very hard to make a prediction at this point. When pressed, Potholm said, "Gun to my head—it's fifty-fifty LePage or Cutler. However the Democrats could get their act together and they could surprise."
Potholm said he anticipated a strong "get out the vote" effort for LePage, somewhat unorthodox for a Republican in Maine.
But if LePage does win, he will do so without the support of the Bowdoin College Republicans (BCR).
BCR President Steve Robinson '11 said he thought LePage was "prone to gaffes. He has no filter on his mouth whatsoever."
"My concern is that he's going to get elected, but he's going to conduct himself in a manner to discredit future Republicans," Robinson added.
According to Robinson, the BCR has not done anything to help LePage on campus.
In response, Dan Demeritt, press secretary for the LePage campaign, said that the members of the BCR "are certainly welcome to their opinion," but that the election was not simply about Republicans and Democrats. Robinson said he will vote for Cutler, though he predicted a victory for LePage.
Caitlin Callahan '11, co-president of the Bowdoin College Democrats (BCD), said her organization will focus on getting students to the voting booths. The BCD will run shuttles to the early voting station at the Town Clerk's office on Saturday from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. and on Tuesday at the same times, Callahan said.
Callahan appealed to liberal students' activism during the 2008 presidential election and the "No on 1" movement in 2009.
"Libby Mitchell supports those ideas;, Paul LePage doesn't," Callahan said.
David Loughran, communications director for the Mitchell campaign, concurred with Callahan.
"I think the more people compare all the candidates the more they're deciding Libby is the best to lead the state, he said."
According to Callahan, there is some possibility of Mitchell arriving to campaign in Brunswick this weekend, though no plans have been finalized.Loughran felt Mitchell was very much still in the running.
"I'd say right now it's a tossup," he said. "I think we're neck and neck with LePage."
Eliot Cutler's campaign manager, Ted O'Meara, felt it was Cutler, not Mitchell, that was in contention with LePage. The Cutler campaign released its own polling information Thursday that had Cutler is second place, six percentage points behind LePage and five ahead of Mitchell.
"As [the voters] peel away from the parties, they come to Eliot in the middle," O'Meara said. "We expect that to only accelerate as people realize that this has become a two-person race between Eliot Cutler and Paul LePage."
Demeritt discounted the Cutler campaign's poll, saying there was no way of knowing how objective the survey was. Demeritt felt much more confident in the independent Rasmussen poll, which had LePage up 14 percentage points over the Democrat and Independent.
"We feel confident, but we're not taking anything for granted," Demeritt said. "Our work is not done until the last vote has been cast."
The majority of Bowdoin students appear to back Mitchell, according to a poll conducted by the Orient.
Fifty-two percent of students intending to vote in Maine said they planned on voting for Mitchell, compared with approximately 18 percent for Cutler and 5 percent for LePage. Approximately 26 percent remained undecided.
Callahan said there is no scenario which would cause the BCD to swing its support from Mitchell to Cutler.
Potholm said the race would be determined by three factors: How closely the Democrats stick with Mitchell, how well Cutler plays in wealthier demographics, and whether Mitchell or Cutler can at least stay close to LePage in rural parts of Maine.
The Orient distributed a survey on Tuesday morning via the class e-mail distribution lists and online Student Digest; by Thursday afternoon the survey had received 327 responses. Respondent identity was not verified in any way.
- Ted Clark contributed to this report.