Her mild concern about the Trump era was still enough to win her a fifth term.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has been reelected to a fifth term in the Senate, even as her state roundly rejected the president whose agenda she has effectively rubber-stamped.
Collins's opponent, Democratic state House Speaker Sara Gideon conceded defeat Wednesday.
Collins has a rather conservative voting record, considering the state's ideological leanings. She voted with Trump about two-thirds of the time, backing his first two Supreme Court nominees, most of his right-wing lower court judges, and his tax cuts benefiting corporations and the very wealthy. She voted to acquit him on both counts in the impeachment trial.
But Collins also sought to present herself as an independent voice by frequently expressing mild concern and slight disapproval about Trump's most objectionable behavior. More than 24 times she conveyed her disappointment in Trump's actions; after voting against his removal from office, she baselessly suggested that he had learned a "pretty big lesson" and "would be more cautious in the future." She later admitted that prediction was mostly "aspirational."
She voted against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett last month, but made it clear that her decision was only based on "process" concerns.
Despite backing most of his agenda, Collins refused to say earlier this year whether she supported Trump's reelection campaign. She said she was instead "concentrating" her efforts on her own "difficult race." This annoyed Trump, who mocked her as "not worth the work."
Her gambit apparently worked.
With her reelection, it appears unlikely that Democrats have captured enough seats to win back the majority in the Senate, their hopes now mostly hinging on runoff elections in Georgia next January.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.