Maine Poll - Open Primaries
Blog Background

Maine Poll

Open Primaries and Mainers for Open Elections Poll Results

Methodology:

771 Maine voters completed the automated survey performed by Public Policy Polling. Voters were chosen randomly from the voter file and proportioned to reflect the voter registration statistics by party in the state.

Insights and Takeaways:

This group of randomly-selected Maine voters proved to be frustrated with partisan politics in Maine and in Congress. Over 60 percent of them agreed that elected officials in Maine do what is best for their parties and not the voters, and a majority were displeased with Congress as well. After hearing a series of statements in support of open primaries, nearly 75 percent of respondents said that they would support a change to open primaries. A majority of respondents also agreed that closed primaries should be funded by the parties and not taxpayers.

The results of this survey indicate that Maine's political climate is unfavorable to a majority of voters and that when given an explanation on the issue, a majority of Maine voters support changing the state's electoral system to an open primary.

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Results:

Q1 Thinking about government in the state of Maine, do you feel like elected officials in Maine mostly do what's best for the voters, or mostly do what's best for their political parties?

  • Think elected officials in Maine mostly do what's best for the voters: 28%
  • Think they mostly do what's best for their political parties: 62%
  • Not sure: 10%

Q2 How successful do you think the leaders of Maine's government have been in bringing people in the state together?

  • Very successful: 3%
  • Somewhat successful: 32%
  • Not too successful: 41%
  • Not successful at all: 21%
  • Not sure: 2%

Q3 Do you think Maine has elected the political leadership the state needs or not?

  • Think Maine has elected the political leadership the state needs: 27%
  • Do not think Maine has elected the political leadership the state needs: 59%
  • Not sure: 14%

Q4 Now thinking about the federal government in Washington DC, do you feel that Congressional representatives mostly do what's best for the voters, or mostly do what's best for their political parties?

  • Think that Congressional representatives in Washington, DC mostly do what's best for the voters: 11%
  • Think they mostly do what's best for their political parties: 81%
  • Not sure: 7%

Q5 How would you rate how successful Congressional leaders have been in bringing people in the country together?

  • Very successful: 3%
  • Somewhat successful: 12%
  • Not too successful: 31%
  • Not successful at all: 51%
  • Not sure: 3%

Q6 How important do you think it is to change our election system to make elected officials more loyal and accountable to the voters?

  • Very important: 70%
  • Somewhat important: 17%
  • Not too important: 5%
  • Not important at all: 5%
  • Not sure: 2%

Q7 Currently, Maine has closed primaries, meaning that registered Republicans and Democrats are allowed to vote in the primary elections but independent voters are not. How familiar were you with independent voters’ inability to participate in Maine’s primary elections?

  • Very familiar: 46%
  • Somewhat familiar: 22%
  • Not too familiar: 15%
  • Not familiar at all: 15%
  • Not sure: 1%

Q8 A recent study showed that most state legislative seats are effectively decided in the primary elections, and not in the general election. Maine has one of the lowest voter turnouts in primary elections in the country. How concerned are you that most state legislators are elected when few voters are participating?

  • Very concerned: 52%
  • Somewhat concerned: 33%
  • Not too concerned: 9%
  • Not concerned at all: 5%
  • Not sure: 1%

Q9 37% of Maine voters are registered as independents, meaning not affiliated with a political party. Do you think that independent voters should be able to participate in Maine’s primary elections?

  • Strongly agree: 61%
  • Somewhat agree: 19%
  • Somewhat disagree: 6%
  • Strongly disagree: 12%
  • Not sure: 2%

Q10 There is a bill pending in the legislature to open Maine’s primary elections to independent voters. It would allow independent voters to choose a party ballot in the primary. Knowing what you know right now, would you support this proposal?

  • Definitely support: 54%
  • Probably support: 24%
  • Probably not support: 10%
  • Definitely not support: 10%
  • Not sure: 3%

Q11 Now I’d like to read you some statements from people who support or oppose the proposal to open Maine’s primary elections to independent voters. Please tell me if you find each argument convincing.

Here’s the first one: Supporters say that opening primaries is an important next step. Maine has enacted campaign finance reform, and most recently implemented ranked choice voting. The next important reform for our state is allowing all voters to participate in the primaries.

  • Very convincing: 43%
  • Somewhat convincing: 28%
  • Not too convincing: 13%
  • Not convincing at all: 12%
  • Not sure: 3%

Q12 Here’s the next one: Supporters say that if the political parties want closed primaries that exclude independent voters, the parties should pay for it themselves, not the taxpayers. Primary elections are currently administered in public buildings and run by government workers on publicly owned voting machines. If the taxpayers are paying for the primary election, then it should be open to all voters.

  • Very convincing: 52%
  • Somewhat convincing: 21%
  • Not too convincing: 9%
  • Not convincing at all: 14%
  • Not sure: 4%

Q13 Here’s the next one: Supporters say that 50% of young people aged 18 to 33 identify as independent voters. Shutting out half of the next generation of Americans from the political process is wrong. Our elections must change to meet the evolving needs of the country. That’s why we need an open primary.

  • Very convincing: 54%
  • Somewhat convincing: 20%
  • Not too convincing: 9%
  • Not convincing at all: 14%
  • Not sure: 3%

Q14 To recap, this proposal would change the electoral system by replacing closed party primaries with an open primary that allows independents to pick a party ballot. After hearing the arguments from supporters, would you support this proposal?

  • Definitely support: 49%
  • Probably support: 28%
  • Probably not support: 9%
  • Definitely not support: 11%
  • Not sure: 3%

Q15 What's your preferred gender?

  • Woman: 53%
  • Man: 47%

Q16 What's your political affiliation?

  • Democrat: 32%
  • Republican: 27%
  • Independent / Other: 41%

Q17 What's your racial identity?

  • White: 90%
  • Other: 10%

Q18 How old are you?

  • 18 to 29: 12%
  • 30 to 25: 22%
  • 46 to 65: 42%
  • Older than 65: 24%

Q19 Mode of communication for poll:

  • Phone: 80%
  • Internet: 20%