Election Day has come and gone, and President Donald Trump wasn’t the only Republican fighting to keep his seat in office. A number of Senate races were extra competitive due to the wild political climate in 2020 — including that of Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who faced a fierce re-election fight this year. The stakes were high for both parties during this election season, and Collins came out on top, prompting people all over Twitter to talk about their disappointment. These tweets about Susan Collins’ win in Maine all show one thing: people are baffled.
Susan Collins has represented Maine in the U.S. Senate since 1997, and despite pledging that she’d only serve a total of two terms during her early campaigning years, in 2020 she was vying to win her fifth consecutive term. As a centrist moderate, the divisive nature of the Trump era has done no favors for Collins. The senator’s popularity has undergone a stark shift over time — as of Nov. 2, the day before the election, her approval ratings hovered around 42%. This is a sharp dive from the time Trump first took office in 2017, when her approval ratings weighed in at 67%, making her one of the most popular politicians in the Senate. Political forecasts across the nation have designated her seat as a toss-up, and less than 24 hours before the election, statistics site FiveThirtyEight gave her only a 43% chance of winning re-election. In this light, there was a very real possibility that Collins’s seat could easily be flipped in favor of her Democratic opponent, Maine House Speaker Sarah Gideon.
The race was too close to call on Election Day, Nov. 3, but the following day, The New York Times reported Gideon conceded to Collins. As of 2 p.m. ET on Nov. 4, the count showed Collins had 49.9% of the vote in relation to Gideon’s 43.4%, with 76% of votes being reported, according to the Times.
On Twitter, people couldn’t help but be baffled by Collins taking the majority of the vote. Others couldn’t believe Gideon conceded before the race was called.
Should Collins have faced a loss in 2020, a turning point for her may have been her widely criticized 2018 decision to join fellow Republicans casting the final vote to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. This decision came as disappointment to many Americans, who expected her to live up to her reputation as an independent thinker and centrist moderate that would set herself apart from Trump’s stringent right-wing ideologies.
In 2020, Collins voted against the confirmation of conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, which some saw as too little too late. Additionally, the senator voted against an attempt by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to block Trump’s nomination of Barrett — despite the fact that she explicitly stated she "did not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election," and that the appointment "should be made by the President who is elected on Nov. 3." Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court in just 30 days on Oct. 26, which is less than half the time it takes to confirm the average Supreme Court nominee.
Going into the 2020 election, Republicans held a modest 53-47 majority in the Senate, counting the two Independents who caucus with the Democrats. This meant that Democrats would either have to gain four seats outright, or three seats and control of the White House (given the vice president’s traditional role as a tie-breaker in the Senate) to flip that majority in their favor. With Collin’s victory, along with other Senate Republicans, Democrats are sure to face plenty of roadblocks in 2021.
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