Susan Collins warns Maine Senate race might not be called for a week

Susan Collins warns Maine Senate race might not be called for a week
© Greg Nash

GOP Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTransit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal The Hill's Morning Report - Infrastructure vote fails; partisan feud erupts over Jan. 6 panel Senate falling behind on infrastructure MORE, who is locked in a close reelection race in Maine with Democrat Sara Gideon, warned on Tuesday that it could take a week to determine who won race if no candidate gets an outright majority on election night.

"If neither of us gets 50 percent of the vote, then we get into the rather odd ranked choice voting. ... We probably would not know for certain who won for another week," Collins told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt

Collins said she is "hoping" to get more than 50 percent on election night, adding "that would be the best of all worlds."


Maine is viewed as a must-win state for Democrats if they are going to retake the Senate majority, which would require a net pick up of at least three seats and the White House. With several races remaining close, the potential for runoff elections and an influx of new voters, party strategists are warning it could be weeks or months before it is clear which party has won control of the Senate.

Under Maine’s voting system, voters can rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate gets a majority initially, election officials eliminate the lowest-ranked candidate and redirect their supporters based on their second preference. Subsequent rounds continue until a candidate receives a majority.

Two officials involved in the Senate races told The Hill late last week that they expected the Maine Senate race to have the subsequent rounds because neither Collins nor Gideon are likely to get more than 50 percent on election night. 

Gideon has led Collins in public polling, but most surveys have shown her just shy of winning more than 50 percent. A SurveyUSA poll, which FiveThirtyEight gives an A rating, had Gideon leading Collins 51 to 49 percent in late October. 

In 2018, it took Maine election officials a week to determine who won Maine's 2nd Congressional District, which used ranked choice voting.