- Maine – Tossup > Leans Democratic
- South Carolina – Safe Republican > Likely Republican
We are making two changes this week. In Maine, we are moving the race left to Leans Democratic. Despite her long history of crossover support, incumbent Susan Collins seems to be struggling mightily. We wrote about her lackluster polling back in March, and much of that still holds true. Collins simply is not getting the crossover support she needs to pull out a win, especially with ranked-choice voting.
Earlier in the year, Collins’s observers attributed her poor polling to her struggles with Trump voters and this was partly true. Surveys consistently showed that Trump voters weren’t sold on her, were dragging down her approval. But the story is different now. According to a new poll from The New York Times, Collins wins virtually as many self-identified Republicans as her opponent, Sara Gideon, does self-identified Democrats.
For their part, the GOP has claimed that their internal polls show Collins in a much better position than the public polling suggests. However, Collins has not led in a publicly released poll since July. Before that, her last lead was in fall 2019. The GOP will not release their internals, so we are giving the public polls the benefit of the doubt and moving the race.
Our next change is one that is likely overdue. We are changing South Carolina’s Senate race to Likely Republican. We have long been skeptical of Jamie Harrison’s chances in the Palmetto State, where Democrats seem to have a ceiling. The party came within 8% in the 2018 gubernatorial race – their best performance statewide in years.
South Carolina, unlike somewhere like Georgia, does not have any large and rapidly growing metro areas. This makes Harrison’s road to victory difficult. He needs to run up the score in Charleston, make modest gains in the state’s other metros (like Columbia and Greenville/Spartanburg), and stem the bleeding in the state’s rural areas. We view this as a narrow but not impossible tight rope to walk. Polling shows South Carolina looks moderately more competitive than in years past, and Harrison has polled closely with Graham in some surveys.