Gideon maintains narrow 3-point lead over Collins in latest Colby College poll

In what could be one of the final polls of the U.S. Senate race before Election Day, Democrat Sara Gideon continues to hold a narrow 3-point lead over Republican incumbent Susan Collins among likely Maine voters.

A survey of 879 individuals, developed and fielded by Colby College of Waterville, revealed that 46.6 percent of voters said they plan to vote for Gideon, compared to 43.4 percent for Collins. Independents Lisa Savage and Max Linn received 4.7 percent and 1.7 percent support, respectively, with 3.6 percent undecided. The poll was conducted Oct. 21-25 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Gideon’s lead has been hovering around 3-5 points in nearly all public polling over the last three months.

“After $160 million spent, you might think there would be some movement,” said Dan Shea, chair of the Colby College Department of Government and the lead researcher on the poll.

The Colby poll also showed Vice President Joe Biden with a commanding 51-38 percent advantage over President Trump among Maine voters, although Biden’s lead shrinks to 4 points (46-42 percent) in the more conservative 2nd Congressional District, where Trump won four years ago and where his campaign has been focusing intently in recent weeks. Trump himself made a last-minute stop in Levant on Sunday.

“I’m a little surprised the Trump campaign is spending so much time here, given that he’s behind in other states with more electoral college votes,” Shea said. Maine has four electoral votes.

Maine is one of only two states that apportions some of its electoral votes by congressional district.

“Four years ago, President Trump won Maine’s Second CD with relative ease,” said Nicholas Jacobs, another Colby faculty researcher working on the poll. “However, right now Joe Biden has a real shot at taking it away from him. There is a reason why both campaigns are running hard there. With almost one in every 10 voters still undecided, and a third of ballots already cast, these last-minute appeals will determine the winner. It is probably going to be the most expensive electoral college vote in the country.”

In Maine’s two congressional races, the Colby survey shows both incumbent Democrats with major leads over their challengers. U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree leads 58-31 percent over Republican Jay Allen in the 1st District race, and U.S. Rep. Jared Golden leads Republican Dale Crafts, 56-31 percent.

Shea said he was surprised Golden has such a big lead given that he’s a first-term congressman.

“Usually, incumbency doesn’t become a big advantage for House members until they have won a few times,” he said.

In the Senate race, Shea said, ranked-choice voting is likely to be the deciding factor. He said the survey suggests that a majority of Savage supporters would vote for Gideon second. Linn’s supporters, on the other hand, were split on their second choices.

“I think it’s possible that the Savage voters, with their second choice votes, will end up picking the next senator from Maine,” he

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Colby College receives $2 million family gift for new arts, athletics centers

Colby College announced Tuesday that a multi-generational Waterville family with ties to the school is donating $2 million to support landmark arts and athletics initiatives.

Dana L. Schmaltz and Kate Enroth’s donation will name the Colby College Museum of Art’s gallery in the Paul J. Schupf Art Center in honor of Joan Dignam Schmaltz, Colby class of 1963. In addition, the welcome pavilion at the new Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center will be named for Richard R. “Dick” Schmaltz, Colby class of 1962.

“Where we are in our stage with our relationship with Waterville is that this should be positive, mutually beneficial and eternal,” Colby College President David A. Greene said in a phone interview Tuesday. “This should not be something that ends in the next couple years or has a timeline on it It should be an ongoing commitment for Colby to have a partnership with Waterville.”

Joan Dignam was an artist. Dick Schmaltz was known as “Mr. Colby” to friends and family. In partnership with Waterville Creates!, Colby is developing the Paul J. Schupf Art Center on Main Street in downtown Waterville, which will break ground in 2021. The Joan Dignam Schmaltz Gallery of Art will contain exhibitions from the museum’s permanent collection as well as specially commissioned shows.

“The Schmaltz and Dignam families, much like our family, have a long and proud history in Waterville and at Colby. We all share a dedication to this community, and we can’t think of a more fitting tribute to our dear friends Dick and Joan than the naming of these two spaces in their honor,” said Paula Lunder, D.F.A. ’98 and Peter Lunder ’56, D.F.A. ’98 in a release.

A rendering of an interior space in the future Arts Collaborative building on Main Street in Waterville. Construction on the project is starting this week, Colby College announced on Wednesday. Peter and Paula Lunder are financing almost half of the $6.5 million project, designed by architect Ryan Senatore. The building is expected to be complete by April 2021. Rendering by James Reben, Architectural Image Solutions

The art gallery is one of a handful of efforts by Colby to revitalize Waterville’s downtown. The Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons, which opened in the fall of 2018, houses more than 200 students in downtown Waterville. The Lockwood Mills Hotel, which is currently housing students, will eventually open to the public. The Colby Arts Collaborative on 14 and 20 Main St. is set to open in April of 2021. Waterville’s BUILD grant also makes a difference.

“We’re hitting an inflection point where a number of the major projects are either under construction or will be soon, and over the next few years we’ll see these coming in a consistent fashion,” Greene said. “What’s also important is also all of the activity that is going on that is stimulated by these investments, but not directly related to them.”

Greene alluded to the efforts by others outside of Colby as part of the overall

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