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UPDATE: Maine Sen. Susan Collins Retains Her Seat in Hotly Contested Race

Once again, most major polls were off...

UPDATE 2:00 PM VIA AP: Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has won the hardest-fought race of her career, turning back a challenge by Democrat Sara Gideon and surviving to serve a fifth term.

Collins, one of four candidates on the ballot, won a majority of first-place votes. That meant no additional tabulation rounds were necessary under Maine’s ranked choice voting system.

Gideon has conceded, telling supporters on Wednesday that she called Collins and congratulated her on the win.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: Four of the Senate’s races that were expected to be tight are close to being called, but here’s what we know now:

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In Arizona, Republican incumbent Sen. Martha McSally is well behind Democratic opponent Mark Kelly.

Several outlets have already called the race for Kelly, who is up by 52.6% compared to McSally’s 47.4% with 83% of the vote reported. McSally could gain on Kelly as the vote totals continue to come in, but that looks unlikely.

Kelly consistently outpolled McSally throughout their race, prompting her at one point to publicly ask supporters to forgo eating and send her the cash they saved.

“We’re doing our part to catch up, you know, to get our message out,” she said in August.

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“But it takes resources. So, anybody can give, I’m not ashamed to ask, to invest. If you can give a dollar, five dollars, if you can fast a meal and give what that would be.”

Kelly also out-fundraised McSally. In the last quarter of campaign finance filing, Kelly pulled in $16 million more than his opponent. McSally blamed Kelly’s momentum on Senate Democrats, but Kelly argued that he was ahead due to local energy.

“Chuck Schumer recruited Mark Kelly. He’s their star recruit. He’s poured tens of millions of dollars into this race because they see Arizona as their path for power,” McSally said in October.

In Montana, Republican incumbent Sen. Steve Daines won reelection over his opponent, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock. Daines’s race was considered a toss-up, but he was the third of seven Republican senators facing tight races to win on Tuesday, decreasing the odds that Democrats will retake the Senate.

Like Kelly, Bullock also out-fundraised his Republican opponent in the last reporting period. In total, Bullock raised more than $26.8 million between July 1 and Sept. 30, while Daines reported raising $11.5 million. Bullock’s impressive fundraising could be why several polls labeled the race a “toss-up.”

The final results, however, prove that the race was nowhere next to close. Daines won with 56.4% of the vote, and Bullock took 45.4%.

In North Carolina, which has not yet been called, Republican incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis holds a good lead above his Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham.

With 93% of the vote in so far, Tillis holds 48.7% of the vote, while Cunningham has 46.9%.

For a while, Tillis’s position looked hopeless. Cunningham consistently outpaced him in the polls, even after news of his multiple affairs broke. Tillis, however, maintained that North Carolinians would choose honesty in the end, and right now it looks like he was right.

In Maine, Republican incumbent Sen. Susan Collins is holding off her Democratic challenger Susan Gideon by an impressive margin. Collins’s seat was thought to be long-gone as of a few weeks ago, but with 85% of the vote in she holds 50.9% of the vote while Gideon has only 42.5%.

The lead could narrow, however, since Maine’s ranked-choice voting system gives voters the ability to rank candidates by preference on their ballot.

Regardless of the outcome, this was yet another race the polls got wrong. As of September, most polls had labeled the race a “toss-up,” and one election handicapper even declared it “lean Democratic.” But Collins’s lead proves that this race was not nearly as close as Democrats believed, despite Gideon’s impressive fundraising haul in the third quarter of 2020.

Gideon was one of several Democratic candidates who brought in unprecedented levels of money. She raised $63.76 million since kicking off her campaign in June 2019 and had $22.7 million on-hand entering October.

Collins, on the other hand, had only $6.6 million on hand entering October. Given these numbers, Collins’s projected win is even more stunning, which is likely why her team is celebrating early:

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