How Susan Collins Survived

Democrats instantly focused Collins for defeat this 12 months, elevating thousands and thousands for an eventual opponent lengthy earlier than Gideon even entered the race. At Gideon’s occasions within the remaining weeks of the marketing campaign, former Collins supporters invariably cited the Kavanaugh vote as a key issue of their choice to desert her. She had misplaced even those that had identified her for years—folks like Marlene Viger, a retired nurse I met alongside along with her niece, Debra Blais, at a “Supper With Sara” occasion in Rumford. Viger, a political unbiased, is aware of and likes Collins, and never simply within the imprecise, impersonal method {that a} voter is aware of and trusts a politician she has lengthy supported.

For years, the 2 ladies sat in adjoining seats on the University of Maine’s basketball video games, cheering on the Black Bears and making small speak. Viger had voted for Collins each time she was on the poll, till this 12 months. “The Kavanaugh vote actually turned us away,” Viger informed me at a Gideon marketing campaign occasion in October. Her voice was tinged not with anger or disgust, however with disappointment. “I really really feel sorry for her, as a result of I do know she has a troublesome job and place,” she mentioned. “It’s actually unhappy.” As for Collins’s opposition to Barrett, she mentioned it could not make up for her Kavanaugh vote, or for the opposite occasions she hadn’t fought Trump arduous sufficient. “It’s too late,” Viger mentioned. “It’s an afterthought.”

Yet if there have been loads of voters who could not forgive Collins for her Kavanaugh vote, there have been others who did. One of them was Karen Boucher, a 46-year-old schoolteacher and political unbiased who cast an early poll in Auburn, a city that narrowly went for Trump in 2016. She rapidly informed me she had voted for Biden, however once I requested whom she supported for Senate, she was nearly apologetic: “This goes to sound terrible, however I really voted for Susan Collins.” After Collins’s vote for Kavanaugh, Boucher assumed that she can be supporting her opponent this 12 months. She went backwards and forwards a number of occasions, she mentioned, however finally she returned to Collins based mostly on her expertise and since she was turned off by Gideon’s unfavorable assaults. “I do not agree along with her selections, however she has tenure,” Boucher mentioned.

The tallies throughout the state counsel that there have been extra voters like Karen Boucher than the polls favoring Gideon had indicated. Unlike Republican incumbents in Iowa and North Carolina, who benefited from a stronger-than-expected exhibiting by Trump, Collins gained a state that swung closely away from the president; Maine gave Biden a double-digit win after going for Clinton by simply three factors in 2016. In Wells, a small coastal city within the state’s liberal southeast nook, Biden gained by 15 factors, whereas Collins gained by 9.

Collins had amassed the same coalition again in 2008, when she and Barack Obama every carried about 60 % of the Maine vote. But the state’s politics, just like the nation’s, have shifted. Wedged into the northeast nook of the nation, Maine lengthy appeared like a buffer towards nationwide political developments. As polarization elevated by way of the Nineties and into the 2000s, Maine elected and reelected Collins and Senator Olympia Snowe, a duo who earned a repute as two of the least partisan members of the Senate. Independent and third-party candidates are sometimes main components within the state’s elections, and when Snowe retired in 2012, voters selected an unbiased former governor, Angus King, who determined to caucus with the Democrats solely after his victory.



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