Do Democrats Who Supported Susan Collins in 2020 Regret Their Vote? Nope.

AuthorWolfe, Rob

Mary Ann Lynch, of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, is a model Democrat. She began her political career as a staffer for Democratic Governor Joe Brennan and has supported the party with donations and volunteer work for more than 40 years. In the past two elections, she voted a straight Democratic slate--Joe Biden, U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree, Governor Janet Mills--with one exception. Last fall, with control of the Senate on the line and the Brett Kavanaugh hearings a traumatic recent memory, Lynch cast a ballot for Republican Senator Susan Collins. She has no regrets.

"I'm a ticket splitter," Lynch told me. "I don't often split, but I do split. I vote for the person who I feel would be the best for Maine and for the country. Instead of saying we need more Democrats or more Republicans, I would say we would need more people like Susan Collins who reach across the aisle to get things done."

Lynch does not share the ominous feeling, increasingly common among Democrats, that time is running out. A paper-thin majority in Congress is likely to disappear next year, leaving just months to pass paid family leave and protect voters from conservative attempts at disenfranchisement. As the likes of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema pettifog and delay, many Democrats wish for just one more Senate seat. And as Texas and other states pass restrictive abortion laws unchecked by the Supreme Court, frustrated Democrats turn to voters in Maine, who returned Collins to the Senate last fall despite her vote for Kavanaugh and the Republican tax bill, and ask: Why?

Exit polling indicates that 13 percent of Collins's support in 2020 came from registered Democrats. Women overall broke for Collins over her challenger, Sara Gideon, 49 to 46 percent. How did these constituencies make a decision seemingly so against their own interests? How do they feel about it now? Ask them, and their answers often evoke nostalgia for things lost--paper mills, union jobs, and a bipartisan, collegial Congress. They also share a lack of urgency about the slow-moving constitutional crisis instigated by Donald Trump, a sign, along with the election of Glenn Youngkin in Virginia this fall, that Democrats will have to do more to win than point to Trump's misdeeds, especially now that he's off the ballot.

Joe Bean, of Falmouth, Maine, is not related to the famous L. L. Bean family, of comfy sportswear and (formerly) generous return policies, but he does embody another Maine tradition: a certain...

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