Democrat Sara Gideon (left) and Susan Collins are pictured during the Decision Maine debate in Portland on Sept. 11. Credit: Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald

House Speaker Sara Gideon maintains a 5-point lead over Sen. Susan Collins, while former Vice President Joe Biden holds a large lead over President Donald Trump statewide and is up slightly in the 2nd District in another poll reflecting strong showings for Democrats.

The poll, conducted by the New York Times and Siena College and released Friday, surveyed 663 likely Maine voters between Sept. 10 and Sept. 16. The margin of error was 5.1 percent.

In the heavily watched U.S. Senate race, the survey marked a return to near the average gap between Gideon and Collins that has been seen in polls throughout 2020. One outlier poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University had Gideon up by 12 points, while another last week from AARP Maine had the two effectively tied.

Gideon led Collins with 44 percent of the vote compared to 40 percent for the incumbent Republican, the poll released Friday found. Independents Lisa Savage and Max Linn each got 2 percent of votes. When the second choices of Savage and Linn voters were counted in the ranked-choice race, Gideon gained slightly, with 49 percent compared to 44 percent for Collins.

Biden, the Democratic nominee, held a 17-point lead over Trump statewide, with 55 percent of the vote to Trump’s 38 percent. The former vice president also led by two points in the 2nd District, which Trump won by 10 points in 2016 but has polled closely so far this year.

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat from the 2nd District, ran well ahead of Biden with a strong lead over former state Rep. Dale Crafts, 56 percent to 37 percent. Golden may have been buoyed in part by Crafts’ low name recognition — a third of voters had no opinion of him.

The freshman Democrat still picked up strong support across the political spectrum, with 64 percent of independents and 23 percent of Republicans saying they would vote for him.

Republicans up and down the ballot may be hurt by Trump’s low approval. A whopping 53 percent of those surveyed said they strongly disapproved of the president’s performance, while another 7 percent somewhat disapproved. In contrast, 57 percent of voters had a very or somewhat favorable impression of Biden.

Nearly half of respondents — or 49 percent — said they thought Collins supported Trump “too much” while only 8 percent thought she supported the president too little. The majority of voters, 55 percent, disapproved of the Maine senator’s votes to acquit Trump on impeachment charges and to confirm U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Fifty-three percent of Maine voters said they preferred a Democratic-led Senate in 2021, while only 41 percent of voters wanted Republicans to control the body. Seventy percent of voters said it would be better if the presidency and the Senate were controlled by the same party.

About half of voters are planning to vote in-person on Election Day, though there were splits along party lines, with 58 percent of Democrats saying they planned to vote by mail while only 17 percent of Republicans did.

The poll did not ask about approval of other political figures, including Gov. Janet Mills, but 64 percent of respondents said they thought Maine was easing social distancing restrictions at the right pace. Only 26 percent said the state was moving too slowly.

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