New poll finds wide support for Susan Collins, touble for Bruce Poliquin

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A new poll from a Democratic polling firm shows Mainers overwhelmingly agree that U.S. Sen. Susan Collins did the right thing when she cast a decisive vote against a Republican health care proposal last month.

The Public Policy Polling survey this week for a group called Our Lives on the Line found that  65 percent of Mainers approve of Collins’ decision to oppose a bill she said would leave too many uninsured.

More generally, the automated survey of 501 Maine voters found they approve of her overall job performance by a 59-34 margin, a finding that might help her decide whether or not to run for governor after two decades in the Senate.

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The health care bill was so unpopular in the state that it might hurt the reelection bid of U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a 2nd District Republican who voted for the measure in the House, the only one of Maine’s four-member congressional delegation to endorse the plan.

The North Carolina-based polling outfit, whose reliability has been questioned by Republicans, found that 54 percent of Mainers were less likely to vote for a member of Congress who had backed the bill while only 25 percent said it made them more likely to support him.

Asked who they would vote for in a U.S. House election today, 43 percent of Mainers said they’d pick a Democrat and 38 percent preferred a Republican. Those are statewide numbers, though.

In the 2nd District alone, the poll found a dead heat between a generic Republican and a generic Democrat.

“It’s shameful Bruce Poliquin voted with his party to strip health care away from millions of Americans and over 100,000 Mainers,” said Ben Wexler-Waite, a spokesman for the Drive for Our Lives Bus Tour, which is associated with the poll.

“The verdict is in: Mainers strongly disapprove of this dangerous repeal bill and people won’t forget Congressman Poliquin’s reckless vote to play political games with their health care,” he said.

Another finding also provides comfort to Democrats.

The poll found that 58 percent of Mainers disapprove of President Donald Trump’s performance in office compared to 35 percent who approve of the president.

Similar polls in states represented by Republican senators show that voters there have generally been unhappy with congressional votes cast in favor of overhauling the Affordable Care Act.

In Maine, 61 percent of voters opposed repealing the ACA, also known as Obamacare, and 26 percent favored getting rid of it, the poll found.

In the 2nd District, the move was only slightly less unpopular. The poll said that 56 percent of voters in Poliquin’s district disapproved of repeal and 26 percent favored the move.

The poll was conducted by an automated phone system on Monday and Tuesday of this week. It is unclear from the data released what its margin of error is.

In other states where the same polling outfit has conducted much the same poll, the results have uniformly found that voters are much less likely to support GOP lawmakers who favored the health care revision sought by Trump. Collins, who is weighing a gubernatorial bid, is a rare Republican senator who still has solid support in her state.

In Kentucky, for example, the polling firm this month found voters back Trump there by a wide margin but still oppose the health care bill, though not by as big a margin as in Maine. They also overwhelmingly disapprove of the job that U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is doing as the Senate’s majority leader.

Save My Care calls itself a grassroots group formed last December to protect the ACA through outreach, public education and civic engagement. It has been doing a bus tour across America this summer to tout its efforts, which is just drawing to a close in Bangor.

scollins@sunjournal.com

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, attend an event at the new L.L. Bean manufacturing center in Lewiston on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017.
AP
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