A new survey of voters in Maine’s Second Congressional District finds strong support among Democrats, Republicans and independents for President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda which would make long-overdue investments in “human infrastructure,” such as health care, lowered prescription drug costs, childcare and climate action.
Eighty-one percent of Second District voters indicated support, with 67% indicating strong support, for lowering health insurance premiums and reducing the cost of prescription drugs by giving Medicare the power to negotiate with drug corporations for lower prices — a key component of the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion 10-year budget reconciliation package, also referred to as the Build Back Better bill.
The progressive Working Families Party, which shared the poll, pointed out that the survey found that the policy proposals in the Build Back Better bill are currently more popular than Rep. Jared Golden, who is running for re-election in 2022.
The poll, conducted by a firm run by pollster and Democratic Party political strategist Celinda Lake, also found that a thin majority of voters have a favorable impression of Golden, with 51% rating the Congressman favorably compared with 37% rating him unfavorably.
Golden’s job performance polled a net-negative, with 44% of respondents rating him “excellent” or “good” compared to 47% rating him “just fair” or “poor.” Golden’s favorability dips further among independent voters, 37% of whom rated him “excellent” or “good” compared to 52% rating him “just fair” or “poor.”
“The levels of support behind the investments in the Build Back Better package are broad and intense in ME-2 — crossing partisan lines, but especially pronounced among independents and Democratic primary voters in the district,” a summary of the poll reads.
Golden, a Democrat, has not yet said whether he’ll support the Build Back Better package.
In August, Golden joined a block of nine centrist House Democrats led by Wall Street-backed Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, dubbed the “Unbreakable Nine,” that threatened to vote against the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package unless a separate bipartisan physical infrastructure measure was prioritized. Corporate interests are lobbying against taxes on the wealthy proposed in the reconciliation package.
The reconciliation package — the only path to avoiding GOP obstruction in the Senate unless the filibuster is removed — contains the bulk of the Biden agenda, including major investments in renewable energy, affordable housing and senior care, expanding Medicare to cover dental and vision, creating a roadmap to citizenship for essential workers, DREAMers and residents with Temporary Protected Status, as well as guaranteed paid leave, pre-k and community college.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had told the centrists that the infrastructure vote would happen this month. She had previously promised House progressives that the two bills would move in tandem, but this week she urged members to advance the infrastructure bill to the president’s desk before the Senate votes on the Build Back Better bill. The Congressional Progressive Caucus is holding the line, however, saying they won’t vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, because to do so would undercut leverage to pass a bold package in the Senate.
On Wednesday, Golden was one of two Democrats who voted against the party’s bid to raise the debt ceiling.
Georgia Hollister Isman, New England regional director for the Working Families Party, said the poll suggests possible re-election trouble for Golden, who cannot afford to alienate Democrats or independent swing voters.
“By supporting the full Build Back Better agenda, Rep. Golden has a historic opportunity to finally meet the needs of voters in his district that he has a tenuous hold on at the moment,” Hollister Isman said. “He shouldn’t let corporate lobbyists make him run scared — voting for Build Back Better is what voters are looking for in a leader, and blocking this popular legislation will put him in electoral peril.”
Golden’s success in a Democratic primary is not assured, the poll finds, with his re-election support among likely Democratic primary voters at 48%. The poll finds Golden is even more vulnerable in a general election match-up, finding 42% support for Golden, 39% for Poliquin, and 6% for independent Jordan Borrowman, a longshot candidate who announced his bid in June.
The poll found higher levels of support for key provisions in the Build Back Better package.
Seventy-five percent of respondents indicated support, with 59% indicating strong support, to include dental, hearing and vision coverage in Medicare.
Seventy-two percent support and 57% strongly support investing in long-term home- and community-based care for seniors and disabled people, increasing both the number of caretaking jobs and the pay workers get for performing them.
Sixty-eight percent — including 94% of Democrats, 67% of independents and 47% of Republicans — support reducing air, land and water pollution, including replacing lead pipes that contaminate drinking water.
Sixty-eight percent — including 92% of Democrats, 73% of independents and 42% of Republicans — also support making high quality childcare available and affordable, so working families pay no more than 7% of their income on childcare for children under five years old.
Lake Research Partners conducted the poll Sept. 13-16. The firm surveyed 500 likely 2022 general election voters, with an oversample of 100 likely Democratic primary voters. The poll has a margin of error of +/-4.4%.
Top photo of Rep. Jared Golden via Twitter.