The four-term Republican incumbent has been on the ropes throughout the entire campaign season. In 2018, things came to a head after her last minute decision to confirm Brett Kavanaugh. Though Collins was the only Republican vote against Amy Coney Barrett last week, in a bid to save face with her constituency, it's perhaps just too little too late for the senator.
On top of that, her bipartisanship as a red senator representing a generally blue state could bite her in the ass during these extremely partisan times. Two weeks ago, Trump tweeted that reelecting Collins is "not worth the work" after her opposition to Barrett. A recent (rather sympathetic) op-ed by David Byler in the Washington Post expounded on Collins' moderate dilemma:
This growing bipartisan intolerance for bipartisanship now threatens Collins. Sure, some voters give her credit for opposing President Trump’s priorities on roughly one-third of all Senate votes, especially her decision to protect the Affordable Care Act from GOP “repeal and replace” attempts and her “no” vote Monday on Barrett, who Collins maintains was nominated too close to the election. But many Biden voters know that Collins is a Republican who ultimately sided with the Trump administration on high-income tax cuts, Brett M. Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court and Trump’s impeachment. In this polarized political climate, that’s enough for Collins to lose their support, no matter what else the senator might do.
Democratic challenger and speaker of the Maine House of Representatives Sara Gideon has been coming on strong. The New York Times has called her "a smooth campaigner, fluent and assured about issues like Medicaid expansion, the environment, and health care, and skilled in talking about how they affect Mainers." She's also been leading Collins in the polls for months. Today, a new Colby College poll has Gideon leading narrowly by 3 points—46.6 percent to Collins' 43.4 percent with support for independent candidates in the low single digits.
This slim lead comes even though Democrats have poured $68 million into the race, for a combined $95 million total between them.
Tonight, the two square off for the final time in a debate hosted by Portland, ME-based TV station WMTW. Analysts expect Collins to align herself with Biden on issues like health care and climate change while Gideon is likely to tie Collins to Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell. Coronavirus will also be a topic of debate, with Collins touting her work helping to pass the $3 trillion aid package and Gideon arguing that the Trump administration botched the job.
Tune in to the debate this evening at 8pm EST/5pm PST here.