Here's two reasons why Republican Sen. Susan Collins will struggle to be re-elected in 2020
Sen. Susan Collins (Photo: Screen capture)

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has technically not decided yet whether she intends to run for another term in office — she will formally make that announcement in the fall — but for the time being, she is behaving as though she is.


On paper, if she does go through with it, as everyone assumes she will, she shouldn't have much trouble winning re-election — Maine is a Democratic-leaning state, but she has always won by respectable amounts — 68 percent in 2014 — and carried large numbers of liberals and Democrats, due to her more moderate record on health care, abortion rights, and LGBTQ issues.

But as Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes for The New York Times, Collins is likely to have a much tougher re-election battle in 2020, for two key reasons.

First, there was her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, which cemented her on the left as a hardcore partisan and a traitor to her stated ideals of centrism. Quite aside from the Maine voters who have expressed disapproval at the decision, there is the $4 million defeat fund raised by liberal activists around the Kavanaugh vote — and she also runs the risk of being tied to every partisan decision the justice makes this year and next.

Second, Collins also faces criticism from the right, for her coldness to President Donald Trump. While she has voted with his agenda nearly 70 percent of the time, she has repeatedly criticized the president's behavior, which has alienated the president's supporters in Maine. She has even attracted a GOP primary challenger in right-wing blogger Derek Levasseur, and while Maine's ranked-choice voting system makes it impossible for him to siphon votes from her, his run is indicative of discontent that could presage lower turnout.

Collins' most likely Democratic challenger is Sara Gideon, the Maine Speaker of the House.