Susan Collins (left) and Sara Gideon are pictured at the Decision Maine debate in Portland on Sept. 11. Credit: Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald

House Speaker Sara Gideon continues to hold a narrow lead over U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in their massive 2020 race while a majority of Mainers oppose a vote to confirm a new Supreme Court justice before January, according to a new poll released Friday.

The poll of 847 likely Maine voters, conducted by Colby College between Sept. 17 and Sept. 23 with an error margin of 3.4 percent, showed Gideon, a Democrat, with 45 percent of votes to 41 percent for Collins, a fourth-term Republican. Longshot independents Lisa Savage and Max Linn combined for 8 percent of votes with another 6 percent undecided.

Democrats have generally done well in Maine polls this year and that trend continued in the Colby poll released Friday. Gideon has held steady leads over Collins in all independent public polls in 2020, but the race is close. The challenger has led the incumbent by five or fewer percentage points aside from one outlier poll last week from Quinnipiac University.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, was backed by 50 percent of voters statewide compared to 39 percent for President Donald Trump, a Republican. In the more conservative 2nd Congressional District, Biden led Trump by just three points, which is a relatively strong showing for the Democrat since Trump won the district easily in 2016.

The Gideon-Collins race kicked off after the incumbent’s 2018 vote for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, which prompted an unprecedented wave of Democratic organization against Collins. The campaign has been upended by the death last week of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal icon whom Trump and Republicans are working to quickly replace.

Collins is one of two senators in her party to oppose that move and she said this week that she would not vote to confirm a justice if Republicans advance one to the Senate ahead of the Nov. 3 election. She has said the president elected then should make the pick, an issue which she agrees with Gideon on and led to criticism from Trump earlier this week.

A wide majority of Mainers agree with Collins on the topic, however, with 58 percent of Mainers in the Colby poll saying she should wait until the new president is sworn into office to vote for a justice versus 35 percent who say she should confirm a new justice as soon as possible. That latter group included 70 percent of Republicans. That question was asked of 440 respondents, since the poll began before the justice’s death.

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat from the 2nd District, seems to be out-running every candidate for major office in Maine this cycle after many expected a close reelection race for the freshman in a swing district. Golden had 56 percent of votes in the poll to 33 percent for former state Rep. Dale Crafts, his Republican challenger, with 13 percent undecided.

Mainers gave Gov. Janet Mills relatively high marks for her coronavirus response, with 59 percent giving her grades of either A or B. That deviated strongly from the grades for Trump, who got an F mark from 48 percent of voters.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...