Susan Collins’ popularity is going from bad to worse among Maine voters as she faces ‘toughest’ reelection battle yet: report
During Sen. Susan Collins’ previous reelection campaigns, the word “vulnerable” was not used in connection with the Maine senator — who was reelected by double-digit landslides in 2008 and 2014. But that was before the presidency of Donald Trump, which has been hurting Collins considerably in her New England state. And journalist Ed Kilgore, in an article for New York Magazine, stresses that Collins’ popularity continues to sink among Maine voters.
Kilgore notes that according to a new Critical Insights poll, Collins’ approval rating among Maine voters has fallen to 37% compared to 42% in the fall of 2019. In the past, Collins enjoyed high approval ratings in Maine — even among registered Democrats — and was among the most popular senators in New England.
Collinse defeated Democratic nominee Shenna Bellows by a whopping 37% in 2014, when Barack Obama was president. And in 2008 — the year in which Obama was first elected president —Collins defeated Democrat Tom Allen by 23%. But as Kilgore explains, Trumpism has been terrible for Collins.
Citing other polling data, the New York Magazine journalist notes that Collins “got a lot of bad publicity earlier this year when she replaced Mitch McConnell as the most unpopular senator in Morning Consult’s quarterly approval/disapproval ratings, likely in no small part the product of her crucial tie-breaking support for the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. Then, she voted to acquit Donald Trump after his impeachment trial, which did not burnish her reputation for being independent of her party: her favorable/unfavorable rating deteriorated to 42/54 in a mid-February survey from Colby College.
Moreover, according to Kilgore, Maine voters might associate Collins with Trump’s “coronavirus response.”
This fall, Kilgore notes, Collins will “face her toughest general election opponent ever in the likely candidate of Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon.” Although Gideon isn’t the only Democrat seeking the nomination in Maine’s senatorial primary, she is widely regarded as the frontrunner and the one who is the most likely to face Collins in the general election.
To say that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) will be promoting Gideon aggressively if she is the nominee would be an understatement. Democrats, who flipped the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 midterms and enjoyed a net gain of 40 seats, are hoping to flip the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate this year — which will require flipping at least four GOP-held seats while holding all of the seats they are defending. In addition to Collins, incumbent Senate Republicans who are considered vulnerable this year include Arizona’s Martha McSally, Iowa’s Joni Ernst and Colorado’s Cory Gardner. If Collins, McSally, Ernst and Gardner all lost and Democrats didn’t lose any seats, Democrats would achieve a Senate majority — and Mitch McConnell, come January 2021, would no longer be Senate majority leader (even if he wins reelection). However, Democratic Alabama Sen. Doug Jones is fighting a tough reelection battle in a deep red state where Trump is quite popular.
“As one of the keys to control of the Senate in 2020,” Kilgore writes, “Collins’ race will definitely be noticed.”