Yesterday may have been a federal holiday, but it was a busy day for new polls from four highly competitive contests for Governor in Florida, Rhode Island, Maine and Oregon.
In Florida, three new surveys conducted in the last week reaffirm a close race between Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Alex Sink and suggest that Sink may be rebounding slightly from narrow deficits in mid-September. This morning, Quinnipiac University released a new survey showing a dead-heat, with Scott edging Sink by a single percentage point (45% to 44), a margin well within the survey's 3-point margin of error. That result falls in between a just released Rasmussen automated survey conducted last Thursday showing Scott with a three-point advantage (50% to 47%) and a Mason-Dixon live-interviewer poll conducted earlier last week showing Sink up by four points (44% to 40%).
Our standard trend estimate now gives Scott a 2.7-point advantage (45.9% to 43.2%) while our more sensitive estimate, which gives greater weight to the more recent polls, shows a virtual tie (45.1% Sink, 44.9% Scott). Either margin puts Florida's governor's race in the toss-up column.
Rhode Island features a wide-open three-way contest between independent and former Senator Lincoln Chafee, Democrat Frank Caprio and Republican John Robitaille. A new Rasmussen automated survey gives Chafee a 3-point edge over Caprio (33% to 30%) with Robitaille trailing (at 22%). Three other media surveys conducted in mid-to late September showed Caprio with margins over Chafee ranging from 3 to 12 percentage points. Our trend estimate currently gives Caprio a 3.5 point advantage (31.7% to 28.2% with 17.9% for Robitaille) -- just narrow enough to merit a toss-up designation.
Maine features a similarly wide-open gubernatorial race. A new survey conducted by the Maine Center for Public Opinion for the website Pine Tree Politics shows Republican Paul Lepage with a one-point edge over Democrat Libby Mitchell (30% to 29%) with independent candidates Eliot Cutler at 11%, Shawn Moodey at 5% and nearly a quarter of the voters (24%) undecided. Those results are a near match to a Critical Insights/MaineToday Media poll conducted in late September.
These two most recent measurements show significantly less support for Republican LePage than previous polls and move our trend estimate in Maine to a near tie between LePage (30.2%) and Mitchell (29.7%). The close margin and large poll of undecided voters make Maine an obvious toss-up.
Data has been relatively sparse in Oregon, with just two public polls released since August, but the latest Rasmussen automated survey shows a deadlocked contest, with Democrat John Kitzhaber at 48% and Republican Chris Dudley at 46%. A SurveyUSA automated poll in mid-September had Dudley leading by six (49% to 43%). Our trend estimate splits the difference and gives Dudley an advantage narrow enough (47.0% to 45.4%) to merit a toss-up designation.