Down East 2013 ©
Fundraising has switched from being one of the most useful measures of the primary campaign to one of the least useful in the general. Democrat Libby Mitchell is running as a clean elections candidate and will be guaranteed up to $1.2 million for the general. Independent millionaires Shawn Moody and Eliot Cutler are largely self-funding and only limited by the extent of their own fortunes. The only really interesting numbers are those from the campaign of Republican Paul LePage, who must still gather individual contributions.
LePage is doing rather well at this task. He has raised $179,000 in contributions during the last reporting period, about the same as the amount he raised for the entire primary. He only needs to continue to pick up the pace a little bit to be competitive in November, especially considering his demonstrated ability to run a cheap, effective campaign.
LePage’s reliance on a large number of donors giving small amounts means that he’ll likely be able to get more contributions from the same people before the election.
LePage’s total cash on hand and expenditure numbers are a bit hard to parse, in part because he took out a large loan, repaid most of it, and then took out another.
Luckily, we now have another campaign metric to examine – polling.
Rasmussen has released two polls of the race so far, one from June 10  showing LePage at 43 percent, Mitchell at 36 percent, and Cutler at 7 percent and another from July 14  with LePage at 39 percent, Mitchell at 31 percent, and Cutler with 15 percent of the vote.
Rasmussen seems to have a house  effect this year that favors Republicans across the country, perhaps because of their model of the electorate in November, or maybe due to their unique  methodology .
Based on these issues, it’s not unreasonable to assume that these polls might be a bit biased toward LePage.
The surveys also failed to include the names of the other candidates on the ballot, independents Moody and Kevin Scott, who could draw votes from all three candidates but are most likely to affect the standing of Cutler, their fellow independent.
Just because these polls may have a slant doesn’t mean they aren’t useful, however. The fact that two polls were done using the same methodology means that differences in their results can show movement among the candidates. These two polls show a surge, well outside the margin of error, for Cutler.
This isn’t surprising, considering that Culter has been the only candidate on TV during the period between the polls and both party candidates are likely coming down from primary win bumps. It will be interesting to see what the next poll shows. If Cutler continues his rise, he might have a chance. If he plateaus somewhere around here with, according to Rasmussen, less than half the support of his two rivals, he won’t.
Luckily for him, Cutler seems to have a powerful ally to help him close that gap – the Portland Press Herald. As my DownEast.com colleague Al Diamon explains, the paper’s Cutler boosterism seems to be getting worse .