December 12, 2018
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New poll shows GOP cooling on Susan Collins, but others still like her

Good morning from Augusta, where new Morning Consult polls on governors and senators show plummeting support for Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins from within her own party.

The numbers aren’t good for Collins among Republicans. The poll, which was based on more than 255,000 interviews across the United States from July 1 through Sept. 31, showed that Collins’ net approval rating cratered 40 points since the previous Morning Consult poll in the second quarter of this year. Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski, who along with Collins helped block Republican-driven attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, saw a 31-point drop in her approval rating among her state’s Republicans.  

The numbers aren’t particularly good for senators as a whole. The poll found support for U.S. senators dropping “across the board” with the average senator’s approval rating dipping 8 points. Only one senator, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, saw more support than earlier this year. Additionally, Morning Consult found that among the 25 senators with the largest approval drops, 18 were Republicans and 7 were Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, was found to be the least popular senator with only 33 percent of Kentucky voters and 50 percent of Republicans ranking him favorably.

But Collins is still one of the most popular senators. With an overall 62 percent approval rating, Collins is still the fourth most popular U.S. senator behind independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont (71 percent), Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont (67 percent) and Republican John Hoeven of North Dakota. Maine’s junior senator, independent Angus King, ranked fifth most popular with 61 percent approval.

The poll also asked about governors. Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s approval rating is underwater at 42 percent, with 52 percent saying they disapprove of his performance. Just like senators, Morning Consult finds eroding support for governors, with average approval ratings sinking five points to 49 percent since the beginning of the year. LePage’s support, according to the poll, has dipped by about 6 percentage points since the first quarter of this year.

At least LePage isn’t Chris Christie. The Republican New Jersey governor was ranked the least-popular governor with 77 percent of Garden State voters saying they disapproved of his job performance. That was a record low for Morning Consult. Here’s Christie’s soundtrack. Not all Republicans stumbled in the poll. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker had the highest approval rating of all governors at 69 percent. Here’s Baker’s soundtrack.


Casino backers could get fined on Friday. They also hired Tucker Carlson’s brother.

After a marathon hearing on Tuesday, the Maine Ethics Commission delayed until Friday action on penalties against backers of Question 1. The commission took testimony from Augusta lobbyist Cheryl Timberlake and Lisa Scott, the sister of chief initiative backer Shawn Scott, on Tuesday — a week before Election Day. The probe began in June after Lisa Scott’s political committee revised campaign finance reports to say that $4.3 million originally attributed to her came from other sources. Timberlake, the committee’s treasurer, and Lisa Scott sparred Tuesday on whether Timberlake knew others were funding the campaign. The commission will return on Friday to discuss fines against backers that could run into the millions of dollars.

Meanwhile, Shawn Scott’s political committee dumped $400,000 into the race only yesterday. The pro-Question 1 campaign was already a $9 million effort before reporting $400,000 in new contributions on Tuesday from Shawn Scott’s company, Capital Seven, and a Japanese consulting firm. They also paid nearly $19,000 to Buckley Carlson, a political consultant and the brother of Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Buckley Carlson got into a controversy in 2015 after Buzzfeed reported that he made several offensive comments about a spokeswoman for New York City’s mayor in an email forwarded to the spokeswoman.

And Shawn Scott would prefer to talk about other things. During the ethics commission meeting, Maine Public reported that Scott was in Portland announcing that he’s agreed to use union labor if the casino is built. At a press conference, Scott said “all we should be talking about is the merit of this project,” according to the Portland Press Herald.


Reading list

  • Susan Collins says she opposes some tax cuts proposed by President Donald Trump. Included in Trump’s $5 trillion plan are a proposed reduction in the number of tax brackets and elimination of the estate tax. Collins’ opposition which she announced during an interview with Bloomberg News, could lead to problems for the overall tax reform effort, given the closely divided U.S. Senate.
  • The governor is intensifying his anti-Medicaid expansion game, as if it could be any more intense. LePage has never supported Medicaid expansion and has emerged, again, as one of the leading voices against it as voters prepare for the Nov. 7 referendum. LePage took to the radio on Monday and sent a press release Friday, arguing that proponents of the measure are being misleading about the costs.
  • And LePage is suing Attorney General Janet Mills again. The Sun Journal reported that the governor sued the Democratic attorney general in Androscoggin County Superior Court, alleging that she’s withholding public records relating to her opposition to Trump’s immigration order. A Maine superior court judge dismissed an earlier, related LePage lawsuit against Mills earlier this month.

It’s “fun” to work at the YYYYYYYYYYYYYYMCA

We all find our own solutions to how to work, play and just plain survive when disaster strikes. Here in midcoast Maine, disaster is the right word and I expect to be without power for days.

The Bath Area YMCA has been my refuge and reason for my faith in humanity. I have worked from the facility’s lobby for two days now, including 8 hours and counting on Tuesday (as I sit here writing to the Daily Brief legions). I have consumed their internet, sucked away their electricity, drank their coffee, enjoyed their hot showers and arguably, just been an unsightly blight on the otherwise attractive community center.

Most businesses would have kicked me out hours ago, but not the Y. In fact, I have heard the workers at the reception desk say at least 100 times today, “Yes, we’re open and our showers are hot!”

That’s true whether you’re a member or not. In addition, I have been offered every manner of support from friends and strangers. The best in people shows up at the worst of times. Here’s your soundtrack.Christopher Cousins

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Christopher Cousins and Michael Shepherd and edited by Robert Long. If you’re reading it on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, click here to get Maine’s only newsletter on state politics via email on weekday mornings.


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