As Election Day grows closer, the messages being given to voters are numerous.
One such message is coming in the form of a radio ad paid for by Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting that quotes opinions from both the Portland Press Herald and The Times Record that support their case that baiting, hounding and trapping bears should be banned, and a referendum to that end will be staring voters in the face as Question 1 on the ballots.
Despite what the ad states, in part — “After years of being wrong, years of dumping junk food and only getting more bears, The Times Record says, ‘How can that be a surprise to anyone? We are practically inviting them into the kitchen.’ Vote yes on Question 1, yes to common sense and restore Maine’s hunting tradition.” — The Times Record’s involvement in the fray can be tied to a mid-May editorial, written by a member of the staff that feels the methods should be banned. That opinion piece should have appeared instead as a bylined column, as it does not represent the position of the newspaper’s editorial board.
Once our newspaper was alerted to the existence of the radio spot, attempts have been made to have our paper’s inclusion in the advertisement removed. Those efforts appear to have been for naught, as it was still airing as of Sunday afternoon.
It’s important for us to point out — despite the continued use of our paper’s name in the propaganda campaign — that we are not endorsing the ban. We can understand that there are strong feelings on both sides of the fence. We encourage both sides to be respectful of differing opinions, but stick to factual arguments and let voters decide next month.
The campaign by Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting to call into question the researched opinions of Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife bear biologists in regard to management of bears in Maine may not be having the effect they’d hoped it would have with voters.
A recent study conducted by the Portland Press Herald shows that the more Mainers hear about the issue, the more their opinions have shifted toward opposing the ban.
According to the Press Herald article, a poll of likely voters in June showed that 48 percent supported the ban, 44 opposed it and 8 percent were undecided. A more recent poll, conducted with 441 likely voters at the end of September, showed that 53 percent of them opposed the ban, 41 percent supported it and 6 percent were undecided. The newspaper article stated the poll had a 4.4 percent margin of error.
Both polls also asked voters about their familiarity with the issue. In June, 30 percent responded they knew nothing; another 30 percent said they knew very little. This time around, 37 percent responded that they had a great deal of knowledge, 29 percent said they knew a fair amount. Meanwhile, 8 percent responded that they knew nothing, while 25 percent of respondents said they knew very little.
Further analysis of the polls, the Press Herald reported, showed that those who responded they knew a great deal about the referendum opposed the ban by a 65 percent to 31 percent margin, while those who responded they knew a fair amount also opposed it, 53 percent to 39 percent. Democrats, according to the newspaper report, support the ban, 49 percent to 43 percent. The opposite is true, however, for both Independents (56 percent opposition compared to 40 percent support) and Republicans (67 percent opposition, 28 percent support). Now, the poll was just a sampling of voters, but it’s interesting to see the shift in support for the ban once people learned more about the issue.
Another poll, one conducted by Pan Atlantic SMS at the end of September, shows that opposition to the ballot question has increased from 48.1 percent in April to 57.3 percent currently. Support decreased from 46.7 percent to 37.5 percent in that same span. This poll found that those opposing the initiative were more likely to be registered Republicans (69.6 percent), male (67.2 percent) and live in the Northern/Down East part of the state (65.8 percent).
This is just another reminder to voters to learn as much as you can about the issues and candidates you’ll be deciding on come Election Day. A more educated electorate is never bad, and as the game of politics plays out during campaign season it’s important to look at the facts yourself. While the politicians are looking out for their interests, it’s up to the public to look out for theirs — don’t just take their word for it.