The Menlo Roundtable

What Factors Led to Senator Susan Collins Winning Re-Election in the State of Maine in 2020?

The 2020 Senate campaign in Maine was followed by the whole country very closely because of Susan Collins’ recent vote to approve Justice Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, a move that rallied liberals against her.

She is the last remaining Republican Senator from New England and because of the controversial nature of this vote, many saw it as their opportunity to unseat Collins and replace her valuable Senate seat with a Democrat, thus bringing that party closer to a majority. The race garnered so much attention that it broke campaign contribution records in the state, and before the Democratic nominee was even announced, people all across the country had raised four-million dollars for Collins’ eventual challenger in the weeks following her vote for Kavanaugh. Going into the election, people thought Sara Gideon, the Democratic candidate, was going to unseat incumbent Susan Collins. Polls were looking fairly good for Gideon with FiveThirtyEight, a statistics website run by American statistician Nate Silver, putting her chances of winning at 59 percent. This made outside onlookers believe that Democrats in Maine were going to vote strongly for Gideon. But as the results came back, it turned out pollsters had undersampled working class voters in rural Maine, giving Democrats the mirage of an easy victory. Gideon conceded mid morning on November 4th after Collins reached fifty-one percent of the total vote share. This outcome shocked the liberal side of the country who had hoped that a victory in Maine would lead to them gaining a majority in the Senate. However, the people in Maine did not listen to the desires and money of the rest of the country, and they re-elected Susan Collins. Some say that she won the race because of the demographics in Maine and the fact that she has held the seat for so many years. However, Susan Collins actually won re-election in Maine because of the independence of Mainers, Sara Gideon’s missteps, and because her characteristics align with many Mainers’ descriptions of a perfect politician.

Photo: Xinhua / Alamy Stock Photo