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Gideon leads Collins by 12 points in Maine Senate race: poll

Maine Democrat Sara Gideon has opened up a 12-point lead over Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP senators praise Biden's inauguration speech LIVE INAUGURATION COVERAGE: Biden signs executive orders; press secretary holds first briefing The Memo: Biden prepares for sea of challenges MORE (R) in a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday in Maine’s marquee Senate race.

Gideon, who currently serves as the Speaker of the Maine House, garners the support of 54 percent of likely Maine voters in the poll, compared with 42 percent for Collins, who is seeking her fifth term. 

Gideon’s candidacy marks the toughest challenge Collins has faced since she was first elected to the Senate in 1996, with Democrats railing against her high-profile votes supporting President TrumpDonald TrumpClinton, Bush, Obama reflect on peaceful transition of power on Biden's Inauguration Day Arizona Republican's brothers say he is 'at least partially to blame' for Capitol violence Biden reverses Trump's freeze on .4 billion in funds MORE’s tax plan and confirming Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughLIVE INAUGURATION COVERAGE: Biden signs executive orders; press secretary holds first briefing Harris to resign from Senate seat on Monday Why we need Section 230 more than ever MORE to the Supreme Court.

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Gideon’s polling lead is boosted by wide margins among historically Democratic-friendly demographics as well as by narrower advantages among GOP-leaning groups. She has a 20-point edge among women and an 18-point lead among voters 18 to 34 years old. But she also has a 4-point advantage among men, a 3-point edge among voters without a college degree and a whopping 18-point lead among seniors, all groups that typically vote Republican.

Gideon also leads 58 percent to 36 percent among independents.

Collins’s approval rating is underwater with likely voters in the new survey, with 43 percent saying they have a favorable opinion of her and 51 percent saying they have an unfavorable view. Meanwhile, 49 percent have a favorable view of Gideon, while 37 percent have an unfavorable opinion. 

Only 5 percent of likely Maine voters said they haven’t heard enough about Collins to form an opinion, and 89 percent of voters overall said their minds were made up heading into Election Day.

"The tide has turned on Senator Susan Collins, who was so popular in Maine that she won nearly 70 percent of the vote the last time she ran. Likely voters are sending the message that there's no 'middle of the road' when it comes to President Trump, who is deeply unpopular in the state," said Mary Snow, a Quinnipiac University polling analyst. 

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The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, rates the Maine Senate race as a “toss-up.” 

Mainers appear to be looking to bolster Democrats’ power in Washington, with likely voters there saying by a 53 percent to 40 percent margin that they would want to see the Democratic Party win control of the Senate.

Collins’s seat is one of Democrats’ top flip targets heading into Election Day in November as the party tries to gain control of the upper chamber. Democrats must flip a net of three or four seats to win the Senate, depending on which party wins the White House. 

The Quinnipiac University poll surveyed 1,183 likely voters in Maine from Sept. 10 to Sept. 14 and has a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.