Decision 2020

Poll Shows Tight Race for Susan Collins' Senate Seat

NBCUniversal, Inc.

New data from a Maine college shows a tight U.S. senate race forming in the Pine Tree State.

Colby College released poll data Tuesday evening showing an essential tie between incumbent Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Democratic Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon.

Gideon is one of five Democrats competing in a primary for the chance to run against Collins in November. Other candidates include former Google executive Ross LaJeunesse and activist Betsy Sweet.

In Colby's poll, conducted with Social Sphere, a company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1,008 registered Maine voters were surveyed by phone and online over three days in February.

Given the chance to decide between Gideon and Collins, 43% of the poll respondents chose Gideon, 42% chose Collins and 14% were undecided.

"We feel really confident that we hit this just right," said professor Daniel Shea, the chair of Colby College's government department.

Shea believes the data confirms a sense felt by many analysts that Collins is in a difficult political position and faces obstacles in her re-election bid.

"It's something she's never seen before and we've never seen as Mainers since she was elected in 1996," said Shea. "The last two elections, she won with 70% of the vote."

Shea says the Colby poll also matches an earlier Morning Consult poll that had put Collins' job approval at 42%.

Asked why Collins' approval appears lower than in years past, Shea said he believes the answer lies with the senator's decision to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, her decision to acquit President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial and other comments she's made about the president and his decisions.

"The broader issue from the data is whether or not a Yankee Republican can survive in modern politics … is she the last of her kind?" said Shea. "I think her comment that Donald Trump had learned his lesson will hang on her like a 500-pound anvil as she's running throughout this race."

Asked to comment about the poll, Gideon's campaign said in a statement that it's "proud" of the effort it has built so far.

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