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Experts: How Collins’ Opposing Supreme Court Vote Impacts Re-Election

In polls for the Maine Senate race just before Justice Ginsburg's passing, incumbent Republican Sen. Susan Collins was losing to Democratic nominee Sara Gideon by 5-10%. (Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)
In polls for the Maine Senate race just before Justice Ginsburg's passing, incumbent Republican Sen. Susan Collins was losing to Democratic nominee Sara Gideon by 5-10%. (Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)
September 21, 2020

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Susan Collins of Maine is the first Republican senator to oppose holding a vote on a Supreme Court nominee until after the November 3 election. But the Supreme Court has been a major issue in Collins' close race against Democrat Sara Gideon for awhile.

A Quinnipiac University Poll released two days before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's passing on Friday asked Maine voters what issues are most important to them in deciding which Senate candidate to vote for. Quinnipiac University polling analyst Mary Snow said the number-one issue for Maine Democrats is health care -- closely followed by the Supreme Court.

"Why is the Supreme Court registering among Democrats in Maine as the second most important issue, speaks to the fact that Sen. Collins has been under scrutiny by critics for her confirmation vote for Brett Kavanaugh in 2018," Snow said.

Collins, a centrist Republican, voted to confirm President Donald Trump's nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in 2018. Since then, her popularity has plummeted, and it's a large part of Gideon's campaign against Collins.

Professor Sandy Maisel, Goldfarb Professor of American Government at Colby College, said Collins' opposition to a Supreme Court vote may help her with undecided voters.

"Many of those undecided people have hesitation about the extent to which she supports Trump. Some of those people are still in play for her," Maisel said.

In the same Quinnipiac Poll, independent voters in Maine favored Biden over Trump, with 65% saying they will vote for Biden and 30% saying they will vote for Trump. Maisel said Collins's position could cost her some support from Trump voters.

The Senate race in Maine is currently one of the closest in the country.

Laura Rosbrow-Telem, Public News Service - ME