On behalf of Fairvote.org, a group that advocated for instant-runoff voting, SurveyUSA gives us a rare look at Maine’s June 12 primaries for governor, but there’s a twist. This is the first statewide primary in American history that will be conducted through IRV, where voters will be allowed to rank their choices. If no one takes a majority of first-place votes, the last-place candidate gets eliminated and their voters’ next choices get assigned to the remaining candidates, with the process continuing until one candidate wins a majority.
To simulate how this instant runoff might go down, SurveyUSA asked respondents to rank their choices, just as they’ll get to on primary day. The poll begins by giving voters a list of candidates (as well as the option of saying they’re undecided) and asking them to select their first choice. Afterward, they’re given the same list and asked to select their second choice. The process repeats until voters are asked to pick their last choice candidate: For Democrats, there are seven of these questions (one for each candidate), while the GOP has four.
On the Democratic side, 32 percent of respondents select Attorney General Janet Mills as their first choice, with undecided at 24. Former state House Speaker Mark Eves is at 16, while state Sen. Mark Dion and businessman Adam Cote take 10 and 9, respectively; no other candidate takes more than 5 percent. Mills ultimately takes a majority on the fifth round: The three candidates with little support are gradually eliminated before Cote is knocked out in round four; Mills then beats Eves 55-26, with Dion at 19.
For the GOP, businessman Shawn Moody leads with 34 in round one, with undecided second with 22. Former state cabinet official Mary Mayhew takes 19, while state Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason and state House Minority Leader Ken Fredette take 15 and 10, respectively. Moody captures the majority in round three after Fredette and then Mason are eliminated, with Moody defeating Mayhew 65-35. Interestingly, in both primaries, the first-round leader is also the eventual winner.
However, this is the only recent poll of the race—and the only one that’s tried to model an instant runoff—so it’s tough to know if Mills and Moody are as dominant as SurveyUSA finds them with a little more than a month to go before the primary. Candidates also have only just started advertising, so the state of play can certainly change.