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Collins, Snowe & Specter: View from the Home Front

"I'm really at a lack of words how to express my admiration, respect for the love of our country, the patriotism and the courage of three brave senators. Specter from Pennsylvania, Snowe and Collins from Maine. I don't think I need to say more than that." - Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), while announcing a deal had been reached on a stimulus package this afternoon.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid loves 'em, but what about their home state voters?

Here's a look at some data on Pennsylvania and Maine, two deeply Democratic states that are also home to the three Republican senators who voted in favor of the economic stimulus package.

Latest elections:

Obama won both states by comfortable margins: Maine 58 to 40 percent, Pennsylvania by 55 to 44 percent. Both marked improvements over Kerry's or Gore's performances in these states - in Maine, 54 percent of voters backed Kerry in '04 and 49 percent voted for Gore in '00 (Nadar scored 6 percent); in both elections, 51 percent of Pennsylvania voters opted for the Democratic candidate.

Susan Collins: Reelected in '08 with 61 percent of the vote; won 58 percent of the vote in 2002. According to the 2008 network exit poll in the state, 38 percent of her supporters voted for Obama.

Olympia Snowe: Reelected in '06 with 74 percent of the vote; 69 percent in '00. First elected to the Senate with 60 percent in '94.

Arlen Specter: Faced a tight reelection in '04, narrowly beating a GOP primary challenge (Spector defeated Pat Toomey, 51 percent to 49 percent), and beating back Democrat Joe Hoeffel in the general, 53 to 42 percent.

A majority of Pennsylvania registered voters in a new Quinnipiac poll approve of the way Specter is handling his job (56 percent), down a bit from the career high of 62 percent reached in Quinnipiac polling in November. Thirty percent disapprove. Independents are least positive toward the senator, 49 percent approve compared with 62 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of Republicans.

Looking ahead to his 2010 reelection fight, Pennsylvanians are evenly split: 40 percent feel he should be reelected, 43 percent said he should not, and once again, his low point comes among independents, 36 percent of whom said Specter deserves reelection, while 45 percent said he does not.

Party and ideology:

Both Maine and Pennsylvania were rated solidly Democratic in Gallup's 2008 State of the States report, based on their tracking surveys conducted throughout the year. And in the 2008 network exit polls, both states again turned up solidly blue: In Maine, the party split was 35 percent Democrat, 26 percent Republican and Pennsylvanian voters broke 44 percent Democrat to 37 percent Republican. In both states, a plurality of voters identified themselves as political moderates (44 percent in Maine, 50 percent in Pennsylvania).

Economic picture:

Exit polling showed about six in 10 voters in each state deeply concerned about the economic crisis on Election Day, 58 percent in Maine and 57 percent in Pennsylvania, above the national figure of 50 percent. Obama won by about 2-1 among these voters in both states.

Gallup's aggregated consumer confidence index for 2008 found Maine to be the third most economically gloomy state in the nation, topped only by Rhode Island and Michigan. Pennsylvania came in as the 12th most negative state.

Of the 22 senators representing the top 12 most economically negative states in the Gallup index, only Republicans John Ensign of Nevada and George Voinovich of Ohio voted against the stimulus package. (Most senators in this category are Democrats, two are the independents who caucus with Democrats.)

Maine rated as the 11th worst job market in the nation in Gallup's '08 polling, while Pennsylvania fell near the middle of the pack as the 26th worst market.

Current unemployment rate: Maine 7.0 percent, Pennsylvania 6.7 percent
Unemployment rate, Jan. '08: Maine 4.9 percent, Pennsylvania 4.8 percent

According to the National Association of Realtors, home sales in Maine are down 21.5 percent in the past year, in Pennsylvania, they've fallen 26.5 percent.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  February 11, 2009; 4:45 PM ET
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