Sen. Susan Collins (R) is seeking reelection in 2020, but there are some growing signs that it will not be an easy bid for the centrist Maine lawmaker.  Collins’ waffling during the confirmation hearings of Justice Brett Kavanaugh won her few (if any) friends or admirers on either the right or the left.

And now the Cook Political Report has moved Collins’ 2020 Senate race from “leans Republican” to “toss up.”

The Hill reports:

The Cook Political Report shifted its forecast of the Maine Senate election from “lean Republican” to “toss-up” on Friday, signaling a tight reelection race for Sen. Susan Collins (R).

Collins won her last reelection bid in 2014 by more than 30 points but is expected to face a much tighter race this time around, with the leader of the state’s House of Representatives, Sara Gideon (D), announcing she would challenge the four-term senator.

A press release Friday from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) claimed that the incumbent senator’s support had cratered in the state following her confirmation vote for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh last year, a controversial vote that Democrats argue pushed her outside the label of “moderate.”

“This is the latest in a string of bad news for the vulnerable incumbent, who has continued to lose support among Mainers and seen her net approval drop by a ‘stunning’ amount since President Trump took office,” the DSCC said in a press release, quoting a Morning Consult analysis.

You can view the Cook Political Report‘s 2020 Senate race ratings here.

Some of that bad news was reported in July when FiveThirtyEight noted that “Mitch McConnell Is The Only Senator More Unpopular Than Susan Collins” and Bloomberg noted, based on the same polling, that Collins’ approval was underwater in her home state.

Collins stated at the time that she believed that her record of bipartisanship will help her win reelection.

From Bloomberg:

“The divisiveness of our country and the unceasing attacks by dark money groups in Maine have clearly had an impact,” Collins said in an interview at the Capitol. “But I believe that once Mainers really focus on the race and we remind them of my being the No. 1 most bipartisan member of the Senate, and all the accomplishments that I can point to that have directly benefited the state, I’ll be fine.”

The Donald Trump era has been hard on Collins. Her votes for the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and against the president’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act have her drawing fire from both parties.

And that’s just the problem Collins seems to be facing.  She’s losing support for the very moderate, bipartisan views that have helped her remain in the Senate since 1997.

Maine isn’t deep red, it’s (mostly) blue.  So Collins’ historic willingness to work across the aisle played well there.  However, she may have overplayed that card during the Kavanaugh hearings.

We covered the Kavanaugh confirmation extensively, and as we noted at the time, Collins was a major (and unwelcome to many) GOP player in the entire process.

Gideon (D) posted her hope to challenge Collins in 2020 on Twitter in June, and the responses at the time are quite telling.

This is not an issue that is going away for Collins.

How all this translates into votes is as yet unclear.  As the Hill reports, “Little polling exists of the 2020 Maine Senate race so far, but a Gravis poll taken in June indicated that Collins had a 14-point lead over Gideon.”  A double-digit lead is nothing to sneeze at.

Something, however, prompted Cook to change her Senate race rating, and it’s not a stretch to think it may be at least somewhat related to her waffling over Kavanaugh.


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