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New poll finds a close Senate race in Maine, with Susan Collins trailing her Democratic challenger

Susan Collins and Sara Gideon.Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

A new poll from Quinnipiac University found a close race between Republican Senator Susan Collins and her Democratic challenger, Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, with just under three months to go before the November election.

The survey, released on Thursday, found Gideon with 47 percent of support and Collins with 43 percent, a four-point difference that’s within the +/- 3.5 point margin of error. Six percent of respondents said they were undecided. The survey also found Maine voters disapproved of Collins’ job performance, 52 percent to 43 percent. The poll was conducted among 807 self-identified registered voters between July 30 and August 3.

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The race between Collins and Gideon is among a handful of Senate races around the country that have drawn national attention as Democrats seek to flip the chamber in November. Democrats view Collins as vulnerable as a Republican incumbent in a state where Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016. The high stakes have also unleashed a flood of outside spending, making the Senate race the most expensive in Maine’s history.

Though plenty can change between now and November, many voters are likely to cast their ballots early this year, as coronavirus concerns keep people away from crowded polling places. In Maine, 200,000 voters requested absentee ballots for the July primary election, and officials there expect a large number to do so again in November.

Quinnipiac also released polls Thursday of voters in Kentucky and South Carolina, and found concerning signs for Republican incumbents in both states. In South Carolina, Democrat Jaime Harrison was in a dead heat with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, 44 percent to 44 percent. That poll had a +/- 3.2 point margin of error. Meanwhile in Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was 5 points ahead of his Democratic challenger, Amy McGrath, 49 percent to 44 percent, just within the +/-3.3 point margin of error.

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“Big political names. Huge political stakes. High anxiety for the GOP,” Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy said in a news release. “Three GOP Senators who easily won their last reelection bids are looking over their shoulders less than three months from Election Day.”

There was bad news for President Trump, too. In deep red South Carolina, voters were lukewarm about him, with the poll finding him ahead of Biden by just 5 points, 47 percent to 42 percent. Voters there were evenly split between Trump and Biden when asked who would do a better job handling the coronavirus crisis. And Biden was up big over Trump in Maine, 52 percent to 37 percent.

Trump fared better in Kentucky, with 50 percent of support to Biden’s 41 percent.


Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.