Maine pretty well represents the significant upgrade Barack Obama's seen in his reelection prospects over the last four months. When PPP polled there in late October he led Mitt Romney by only 11 points, 49-38. That represented a 6 point tightening from Obama's margin of victory over John McCain there in 2008. Since then Obama's Maine lead has more than doubled to 23 points at 58-35 against Romney, representing a 6 point improvement on his 2008 numbers.
It's not hard to explain Obama's improved numbers: he's getting more popular, and Romney's getting less popular. In October Obama was slightly under water in the state at 47/48. Now he's quite popular with 55% of voters approving of him to 41% who disapprove.
There are two big reasons for his improvement, and these are things we're seeing most places right now:
-The Democratic base is unifying around him. In October he was at 75/17 with his party's voters, now it's 86/10. The more Democratic voters see the Republican candidate field, the more they forgive Obama for not being completely perfect and get behind him.
-Obama's flipped independents from giving him negative reviews (46/49) to positive ones (54/38).
Meanwhile Romney's headed in the opposite direction. His numbers were already poor in October at a 38/49 favorability spread. But they're much worse now with only 30% of voters seeing him favorably to 63% with a negative opinion.
The strongest of the GOP candidates in Maine is actually Ron Paul, who trails by only 16 points at 54-38. Rick Santorum trails by the same 23 point margin as Romney, 58-35, and Newt Gingrich does the worst with a 28 point deficit at 60-32.
Recent polling has shown Obama's standing much improved in New Hampshire and these numbers seem like they may reinforce the argument that he's getting stronger in the region.
It doesn't really matter at this point but we also asked Republicans in the state who they want as their nominee: 35% pick Romney to 30% for Santorum, 17% for Paul, and 12% for Gingrich. That's about the same percentage of the vote Romney got in the Maine caucus, but Santorum and Gingrich do far better than they did in the caucus while Paul does a lot worse. That's a pretty good example of how his superior organization allows him to over perform in caucuses.
Full results here