There is no real way for the Democrats to spin this other than an expression by Joe Lieberman that he believes the Senate should remain in the hands of the GOP.
Joe Lieberman, a former U.S senator and the 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate, endorsed Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, on Wednesday.
Lieberman is also appearing in an ad for Collins as she faces perhaps the toughest race of her career.
“I’m a lifelong Democrat but I put my country first, always. That’s why I’m supporting Susan Collins for Senate,” Lieberman, a Democrat turned independent, said in the ad, which is paid for by the Republican Jewish Coalition.
The GOP currently controls 53 seats, while the Democrats control 45, with two independents who caucus with the Democrats and would vote for Democrat control of the chamber. So the actual partisan makeup is 53-47. If the GOP loses 3 seats, control would shift with a Biden victory as VP Harris would break any ties.
Some analysts say that as many as seven GOP seats are “in play”, with Martha McSally’s seat in Arizona already leaning Democrat takeover, and Susan Collins as one of six GOP seats listed as “toss-ups.”
Joe Lieberman endorsed Susan Collins in 2008 as well, after the had left the Democrat party and retired from the Senate. So his support for the moderate Collins isn’t necessarily a surprise, but it does, at the same time, suggest that Lieberman thinks the Senate should remain in GOP control. A re-election victory by Collins — in a state that Biden has a very strong chance to carry — removes one of the better opportunities for Democrats to add a seat.
Susan Collins was first elected to the Senate in 1996 — a Presidential election year for Clinton’s second term. Bill Clinton received 51% of the vote in Maine. Susan Collins was a political consultant, not an officeholder, yet she beat a sitting Democrat Congressman 49-43%, finishing only a few thousand votes short of Clinton’s total.
In 2002, her first re-election campaign, she won 58-42%.
In 2008, the year Barack Obama was elected President, Collins won her third term 61.5 – 38.5%. She received 444,300 votes, to Obama’s 422,000 votes.
In 2014, she won her fourth term in the Senate 68.5 to 31.5%. In all three of her re-election campaigns, she has carried every county in Maine.
Sarah Gideon, the Maine State House Speaker, is certainly a modestly successful politician in her own career. But it seems quite far-fetched to believe current polling out of Maine which shows Collins supposedly enjoys only roughly half the support she received in the election results six years ago — on recent poll has her at only 38%. There is no explanation for a poll such as that other than the construct of the poll methodology and questions.
But Joe Lieberman — though he finished his Senate career as an “Independent” — remains influential with Democrat constituencies, and his overt endorsement of Collins’ re-election will likely provide comfort to former Collins’ supporters who have expressed an inclination to desert her.
The Democrats continue to live in the fantasy world where they think huge swaths of the electorate are outraged over votes for Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation and against Pres. Trump’s impeachment. Only the far left-wing radicals are making a final stand on those as “voting issues.” Gideon is certainly a more credible opponent than Collins has faced before, but there is a long distance between having a credible opponent and having 30% or more of the people who have returned a candidate to office three times decide to abandon her now.
Other “vulnerable” GOP incumbents — according to some — come from more Trump-friendly states. What seems to be emerging strength by Trump with Hispanics — if Florida is any evidence — would seem to improve the re-election prospects of Martha McSally in Arizona and Cory Gardner in Colorado, with both states having sizeable Hispanic populations. Beyond those two, the remaining GOP “toss-ups” are all in states Trump is likely to carry.
Democrats, on the other hand, will certainly lose Doug Jones in Alabama. Gary Peters in Michigan is vulnerable to a strong GOP challenger — John James — especially if Trump overperforms in Michigan. The same is true for Tina Smith in Minnesota, who may be among the weakest candidates running for the Dems. The winner of an interim term to replace Al Franken, after she was first appointed to that seat, she’s the former Lt. Gov. of Minnesota of no particular distinction. She’s been pretty much invisible throughout the George Floyd controversy. The GOP candidate doesn’t have a long political history, but he trails by only 5 points in another State where Trump could very well over-perform because of events of the past six months.
It might be that the outcome of Collins’ race in Maine decides which party controls the Senate.