Susan Collins’ Standing in Maine Unaffected by Democratic Anger Over Kavanaugh Vote

Job approval rating unchanged ahead of potential 2020 reelection

Sen. Susan Collins / Getty

Despite drawing the ire of Democrats and progressive activists for her vote to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Republican Sen. Susan Collins' popularity appears to be unfazed in her home state of Maine.

On Thursday, Morning Consult released its quarterly survey measuring the job approval numbers of every sitting member of the U.S. Senate. The survey, which was conducted from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2018, found that Collins' approval rating among Maine voters did not change after casting the deciding vote in favor of Kavanaugh's ascension to the Supreme Court.

Although Collins' popularity among total voters remained stable with 53 percent expressing a favorable opinion and 38 percent unfavorable, her standing among registered Republicans skyrocketed following confirmation. Collins' approval rating with Maine's GOP contingent jumped 46 percentage points between the third and fourth quarters of 2018. The boost is likely to offset any lost support from registered Democrats who previously crossed-over to vote for the senator, but might be unlikely to do so in the future.

The numbers don't bode well for Democrats and progressive activists arguing Collins should pay an electoral price for supporting Kavanaugh. Antagonism to Collins on the left was best summed up by Michael Keegan, the president of the People for the American Way, shortly after the senator announced her backing for the justice.

"This shameful vote will be Susan Collins’s legacy," Keegan told The New York Times. "If he’s confirmed, Brett Kavanaugh will likely serve for decades, and Senator Collins will need to answer for every future decision that her vote makes possible."

Opposition to the Maine Republican by Democrats has only grown since confirmation. A resistance group with strong ties to the liberal Center for Popular Democracy has already raised nearly $4 million for a yet-to-be-named Democratic opponent should Collins opt to seek reelection in 2020.

Collins wasn't the only key player from the Kavanaugh confirmation battle to see her polling numbers improve among registered Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who ushered Kavanaugh's nomination through a polarized Senate chamber, witnessed a boost of 16 percentage points among Republicans in his home state of Kentucky. Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham's fierce denunciation of Democrats "unethical" approach to the Kavanaugh confirmation earned him a 43 point surge in support among his fellow South Carolina Republicans.

Unlike Collins, however, McConnell and Graham also saw their approval ratings rise among in their home states. McConnell, who at one time was one of the Senate's most unpopular incumbents, at least according to Morning Consult surveys dating back to 2015, saw his overall approval with Kentucky voters rise 10 percentage points. Likewise, Graham's net approval increased by 15 points between the third and fourth quarters of 2018, accounting for the second largest improvement of any member in the chamber. Both men are up for reelection in 2020.

Last week, Collins signaled she is likely to seek reelection to the Senate seat she has held since 1996.