In this Sept. 4, 2020, file photo, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins attends an event at the Penobscot Snowmobile Club in Hermon. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins is trailing her Democratic challenger by 5 points in a poll released Monday that shows a difficult path ahead for the Republican’s reelection bid.

The Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll found House Speaker Sara Gideon was leading Collins with 46 percent of votes to 41 percent for the Republican incumbent seeking a fifth term. That margin mostly tracks with most recent public polling in the race. The poll of 500 Mainers had an error margin of 4.4 percentage points.

This latest poll was conducted from Thursday through Sunday, around the Friday death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It’s a sign of an increasingly difficult path ahead for Collins in Democratic-leaning state. She is relying more on conservative voters now than more than ever after consistently winning swing voters in past elections.

Collins once ranked as Maine’s most popular politician, with her often drawing plaudits for as Washington’s most bipartisan senator and winning her 2014 reelection bid with two-thirds of the vote, but that was before the ascendency of President Donald Trump.

Collins popularity has fallen particularly among Democratic-leaning voters in the aftermath of her votes for Republicans’ 2017 tax bill and to confirm two conservative justices — Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 — to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A national survey early this year found Collins with the highest disapproval rating of any senator. The new survey released Monday found Collins with a lower favorability rating among likely voters than Gideon with 45 percent to 56 percent for the Democrat.

Only 33 percent of women favored Collins in the Suffolk poll, while 54 percent favor Gideon. Collins, however, has 49 percent support from men, compared with 38 percent for Gideon.

In the days since Ginsburg’s death, Supreme Court politics have been thrust centerstage in the closing weeks of the 2020 election, likely mobilizing voters on both sides. Trump has said he will name a nominee to replace the liberal Ginsburg this week, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has pledged to take up that nomination this year.

But Collins is among a handful of Republicans senators who have called for the Senate to delay any consideration of a Supreme Court nominee until after the Nov. 3 election. That’s drawn the ire of Trump, who has largely avoided criticizing Collins ahead of the 2020 election. 

During a Monday morning appearance on “Fox and Friends,” Trump said she will be “very badly” hurt by her call to delay any vote on his nominee, saying Republican voters “aren’t going to take this.”

It’s not clear whether Trump’s criticism will affect her standing among Republican voters, but he is running behind Collins in Maine. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, led Trump statewide with 51 percent support to 39 percent for Trump. His approval rating of 40 percent was five points behind Collins.

The race will be decided by ranked-choice voting, and features independents Lisa Savage of Solon and Max Linn of Bar Harbor. Savage had 4 percent support of first-round votes in the poll while Linn had just 2 percent. Nearly half of those voters broke for Gideon in a second round.

BDN writer Michael Shepherd contributed to this report.

Correction: An earlier version of this report incorrectly described the timing of the Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll.

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