After former Vice President Joe Biden’s victory in Maine Tuesday night, Republican incumbent Susan Collins won her senate re-election Wednesday morning, defeating Democrat Sara Gideon.
Republicans are now one step closer to retaining their senate majority, where they currently have a 53-47 advantage.
Updated Nov. 4, 8:50 a.m.
Biden wins in Maine, 54.3% to Trump’s 42.3% as the race was called by the Associated Press.
Collins leads in a narrower margin, 49.6% to Gideon’s 43.6%.
Updated Nov. 3, 10:16 p.m.
The absentee ballot results so far are favored to Biden, 68% to Trump’s 28.9%. In the senatorial race, Collins holds the lead at 53.4% versus Gideon’s 40.3%. Gideon’s campaign team has stated “it’s clear that the race will not be called tonight”, according to the New York Times.
Updated Nov. 3, 8:08 p.m.
Biden leads in Maine with 49% to Trump’s 47.7% as more votes are counted in. Collins leads by 56.1% to Gideon’s 37.8%.
Updated Nov. 3, 5:39 p.m.
Senator Susan Collins leads 79.5% to Sara Gideon’s 15.4% in early counting of Maine’s voting results. Independent Max Linn garnered 5.1%, while Lisa Savage has 0%.
Updated Nov. 3, 3:32 p.m.
Republican Senator Susan Collins warns that Maine’s senatorial race may not be called for a week.
Maine is held in a tight, heated race for the senatorial seat, primarily between incumbent Republican Senator Susan Collins and Maine Speaker of the House Sara Gideon. A third and unlikely contender, Lisa Savage, is popular in the eyes of Maine voters, but struggles to become a top candidate.
Each challenger comes from diverse perspectives, with Collins adhering to the Republican party, Gideon to the Democratic, and Savage to the Independent, although she was once part of the Green Party.
Collins has often been considered one of the most bipartisan senators in the U.S., being the only Republican senator to vote against their party during the Supreme Court confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barret. Gideon and Savage, however, lean heavily on progressive ideology. As the strongest competitor to the seat, Gideon supports bipartisan ideology, keeping in line with the state’s political preferences.
Collins is the incumbent for the senatorial seat representing the state of Maine. As a Republican, Collins has held her seat since 1997, an exception to a state that’s voted primarily Democrat in presidential elections. Collins' bipartisan approach has helped the senator retain her popularity as she was willing to work with the former Obama administration on a number of issues.
Collins lost some favor when she decided to vote to confirm the controversial Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice in 2018. Since then, she has struggled to distract potential voters from her decision, costing her money and popularity that has begun its shift towards a Democratic candidate.
As polls show voters in Maine generally prefer Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, Collins has found herself in an uphill battle that could ruin her winning streak.
Gideon currently serves in the Maine House of Representatives. As a Democrat, Gideon’s road to success in this 2020 senatorial race has seen a boost due to Collins' splintering base of voters.
Giden took office in the Maine House of Representatives in 2012 and was nominated by majority vote to become the Speaker of the Maine House in 2016. She announced her run for the senatorial seat in 2019, directly challenging Collin’s incumbency and criticizing her failures to remain bipartisan during Trump’s presidency.
A crowdfunding campaign raised nearly $3.5 million in support for Gideon’s campaign, providing her with more funds to continue campaigning and gaining the lead on the current senator.
The enactment of ranked choice voting in Maine in 2016 has opened the door for independent candidates to find foothold in the competition. Savage, a designated independent, saw her popularity increase after Maine’s last debate several weeks ago.
Savage is a teacher, an activist and an anti-war protestor who supports progressive legislation and ideologies despite her political party identification, even listing Gideon for her voter’s second choice should she not receive the majority of the votes.
Her campaign had raised less than $100,000, which is minimal compared to Collin’s and Gideon’s millions, but she continues to press on and attract young voters to issues she believes have gone completely neglected, such as climate change and student debt.
The ranked choice voting system is by no means a guarantee that Savage will win the senatorial seat nor outdo her Republican and Democratic contenders, but Maine is no stranger to voting independent. Historically, the state has voted in three independent governors and saw Angus King, a member of the party, serve two terms in the Senate.
Collins has been inconsistent with her healthcare support, specifically concerning the Affordable Care Act. In 2017, the senator sided with the Republican party in repealing the Act before ultimately voting to keep it in place. However, she also supported a bill that served as a lawsuit against the ACA.
Collins has also made efforts to increase healthcare access for Maine citizens through two bills that would have lowered insurance premiums and expanded coverage to over 3 million people. The bills, however, did not pass through Republicans.
Gideon often speaks about healthcare options at her campaign events. While a proponent of Medicare-type options for citizens, Gideon does not advocate dismantling private insurance options. With similar healthcare proposals to Biden, Gideon’s chances of passing her proposed bill increases should she win and Democrats gain a senate majority.
Savage is a proponent of Medicare for All, which was part of former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s healthcare plan. This would eliminate private insurance options and guarantee government-sponsored care for all U.S. citizens.
Coronavirus relief is also a primary topic during this senatorial race. In response to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel’s $500 billion plan to provide relief aid to those in need, Collins argued that the amount is not enough, siding with other Democrats and President Trump’s support for larger relief funds.
In a direct attack against Gideon, Collins criticized her for failing to convene with the Maine legislators over the summer to establish tactics to handle the novel coronavirus. Gideon was quick to blame Republican legislators, as well as Collins herself, for the slow COVID-19 relief response.
Straying away from personal attacks, Savage explained her plan for coronavirus relief would consist of a “people’s bailout,” which includes a $2000 per month stimulus check for families. The rest of her outline for handling the pandemic includes increased testing across the United States with roadside and sidewalk checkpoints to test travelers and citizens.
Climate change has also been a major topic of concern among Maine citizens. Collins said she plans to support the protection of earth’s climate through job creation, particularly in the renewable energy sector. She authorized the Paycheck Protection Program that poured $2.3 billion into small businesses and employers, which supported around 255,000 jobs.
Collins said her ultimate goal is to support green energy without losing economic leadership, working to increase funding for the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Project Agency and being a member of the country’s first Senate Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan group dedicated to breaking party lines to tackle climate change.
While a member of the Democratic party and ideologically progressive, Gideon does not support the Green New Deal for climate change solutions. She does, however, plan to make the U.S. carbon neutral by the year 2050, which means that the country would release zero carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Gideon also expressed she would aim to bring the U.S. back into the Paris climate accords, ties which President Trump severed upwards of a year ago.
Savage is the primary supporter for the implementation of the Green New Deal, which allocates more funds to the creation of renewable energy devices instead of military technology. She used the example of increasing funding for solar and thermal energy instead of constructing more Navy warships. The Green New Deal not only addresses climate change but the creation of jobs as well, in a way that addresses infrastructure needs but focuses on carbon emissions.