Socially-distant canvassing has gotten the green light in Maine! Join in for the most impactful thing you can do

The Big Story: Donald Trump has never been shy about attacking members of his own party when they displease him, and his latest broadside is more evidence of the bind Senator Susan Collins is in. Peeved by Collins’s position that the Senate should not vote on the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court before the November election, Trump, whose supporters Collins needs to retain her seat, blasted Collins in a Tweet last Friday saying she was “not worth the work.” Collins, who has also been coy about whether she will vote for Trump in November, will have to vastly outperform Trump among Maine voters to win; the most recent poll average compiled by FiveThirtyEight shows Joe Biden with a 15 point lead over Donald Trump in the state. (The Bangor Daily News, October 16, 2020.)

In other news:

People vote, not money, but a candidate’s fundraising can signal either an engaged electorate or a disaffected one. Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate are bringing in breathtaking amounts of cash, especially in South Carolina where Jaime Harrison is challenging Senator Lindsey Graham. In the last quarter alone, Harrison raised $57 million, shattering all previous records for a U.S. Senate campaign. In Maine, Sara Gideon has also attracted eye-popping amounts of financial support. In the last quarter alone, Gideon reported $39.4 million in donations while Susan Collins raised $8.3 million. Gideon has $22.7 million on hand to spend in the race’s final weeks; Collins reports $6.6 million on hand. All told, Gideon has raised $63.6 million for her campaign compared with Collins’s $25.2 million. (The New York Times, October 16, 2020.)

Swing Left Maine volunteers have placed more than a dozen letters to the editor in Maine newspapers during the Senate campaign. Most recently, Elinor Bachrach of Brunswick argued for the importance of flipping control of the Senate. Elinor, a former Senate staffer, wrote in the Portland Press Herald: “I came to the Senate in 1972 on the staff of Maine Sen. William D. Hathaway. The Senate then was proud of its independence and its role in maintaining the constitutional separation of powers. Legislation gained full consideration in Committee, often with bipartisan cooperation, and routinely went to the Senate floor for a vote. By contrast, Senate Majority Leader McConnell is called the ‘Grim Reaper’ for blocking over 400 House-passed bills from any Senate consideration. His ‘graveyard’ includes bills to strengthen health care, lower prescription drug costs, and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. Such total obstruction didn’t happen in the Senate of old, but it will continue if Republicans keep the majority and stymie reform efforts, even if Biden wins.” (The Portland Press Herald, October 14, 2020.)

What’s the state of the race between Sara Gideon and Susan Collins? While some recent polls show Gideon and Collins in a virtual tie, the most recent poll by Portland based Pan Atlantic Research shows Gideon with a seven point lead, largely because independents appear to be breaking strongly in Gideon’s favor. But the poll’s margin of error, 4.5%, still means the race is highly competitive. (The Bangor Daily News, October 15, 2020.)

An essay in the most recent issue of The New Yorker argues that there is a widespread sense among Maine voters that Susan Collins’s purported moderation has been ill-suited to the Trump era and may explain why she went from being one of the most popular Senators among her constituents four years ago to one of the least. Her vote in favor of Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh, and her wildly off-the-mark prediction that Trump would be chastened by his impeachment, his acquittal notwithstanding, which Collins abetted, appear to have taken their toll on Collins’s popularity. (The New Yorker, October 15, 2020.)

…and a few more:

The third debate between Sara Gideon and Susan Collins, which also included Independents Max Linn and Lisa Savage, was a “heated” affair, with the candidates clashing over everything from Supreme Court nominations to health care to Collins’s continued refusal to say whether she supports Donald Trump for re-election. (The Portland Press Herald, October 15, 2020.)

Susan Collins likes to remind voters that while she was born and raised in Maine, Sara Gideon was born in Rhode Island and settled in the state after marrying her Maine-born husband. The notion of being “from away” used to carry sway in Maine politics but it remains to be seen whether it will have potency in November. Gideon, when asked about this line of attack, responds this way: “I wish my parents had made the wonderful decision to move here before I was born, and I could have…lived all my life in this incredible place. But that wasn’t the case.” Jim Melcher, a political science professor at the University of Maine Farmington, doesn’t think the issue has much salience for most voters, many of whom are not Maine natives either. Being Maine born and bred is “the cherry on top” for some voters, says Melcher, but for most it’s not a decisive factor. (The Bangor Daily News, October 11, 2020.)

Only three percent of Maine voters are undecided in the presidential race while seven percent remain undecided in the Senate race. This could have significant implications in November. Though Joe Biden holds a large lead statewide, the race is tight in the second congressional district where one of Maine’s four electoral votes is up for grabs. And with the Senate race within a matter of a few points, how undecided voters break could be decisive. The Bangor Daily News is following four undecided voters between now and the election. (The Bangor Daily News, October 12, 2020.)