Susan Collins in statistical tie with Democratic challenger: poll

Republican Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsRepublicans prepare to punt on next COVID-19 relief bill Trump tweets spark fresh headache for Republicans Trump’s tweet on protester sparks GOP backlash  MORE (Maine) is tied with her leading Democratic challenger, according to a new poll released Tuesday.  Forty-two percent of respondents in a Colby College poll said they would vote for Collins, compared to 43 percent who said they would support Sara Gideon, the speaker of the Maine House of Representatives and the front-runner for the Democratic nomination.  “The results indicate this could be the kind of race Sen. Collins has not had to deal with before,” Dan Shea, a Colby College professor of government and the lead researcher on the poll, said in a statement while caveating that “there’s a long way to go.” The poll, which has a 3 percentage-point margin of error, included surveys with 1,008 registered Maine voters, 70 percent of which were conducted online, that took place between Feb. 10 and Feb. 13.  That’s approximately a week after the Senate ended the months-long impeachment saga when it voted largely along party lines to acquit Trump of abuse of power in his actions toward Ukraine and obstruction of Congress in subsequent investigations.  Collins voted to acquit Trump, arguing that the House had failed to make the case that his actions warranted removal from office months before the 2020 election.  She told CBS News on the day that she announced her decision to acquit Trump that she believed he had learned from the impeachment fight. “The president has been impeached. That’s a pretty big lesson. I’m voting to acquit because I do not believe that the behavior alleged reaches the high bar in the Constitution for overturning an election and removing a duly elected president,” Collins said. 

Pressed on why she thought Trump had learned something, Collins added, “He was impeached. And there has been criticism by both Republican and Democratic senators of his call. I believe that he will be much more cautious in the future.”   Collins later walked that back, telling Fox News on Wednesday after the impeachment votes that her hope that Trump had learned a lesson was “more aspirational on my part.”

According to the Colby College poll, 30 percent of respondents said Mainers should be proud of Collins’s role in the impeachment proceedings, compared to 37 percent who said they should be disappointed. Another 31 percent believed state residents should have mixed feelings.  But 36 percent of respondents said Collins’s votes would make them more likely to vote against her, compared to 17 percent who said the vote would make them more likely to support Collins. Forty-six percent indicated it likely wouldn’t change their views on her candidacy.  Collins is viewed as a top target for Democrats as they look to regain the Senate majority in November. She is one of two GOP senators up for reelection in states won by 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE.  Election handicappers, including the Cook Political Report, rate her race as a toss-up.  With a current 53-47 Republican majority, Democrats would need to win back a net of four Senate seats to capture an outright majority in the Senate. If they win back a net of three seats, that would result in a 50-50 tie, giving tiebreaker status to whichever party wins the White House.  Collins, part of a dwindling group of moderates, has attracted criticism for key votes during the Trump administration, including impeachment and supporting Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughGOP senators urge Trump to back off Murkowski threat Judd Gregg: A government in free fall The 7 most anticipated Supreme Court decisions MORE’s Supreme Court nomination.  A quarterly Morning Consult tracking poll, released in January, found that she had displaced Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote GOP senator to try to reverse requirement that Pentagon remove Confederate names from bases No, ‘blue states’ do not bail out ‘red states’ MORE (R-Ky.) as the Senate’s most unpopular member.  Collins, according to that poll, had a 42 percent approval rating among Mainers compared to a 52 percent disapproval rating.  The Colby College poll found Collins to have a 42 percent favorable rating but a 54 percent unfavorable rating. Fifty-seven percent of independents view her unfavorably, according to the poll, while 39 percent view her favorably. 

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