It's been clear for a long time now that Maine Republicans want to swap out Olympia Snowe for someone more conservative. Our newest poll in the state finds that hasn't changed: only 33% of primary voters in the state say they would support Snowe next year to 58% who prefer a generic 'more conservative candidate.'
The gripe with Snowe is pretty straight forward. 58% of primary voters think she's too liberal to 37% who think she's ideologically where she should be. Most GOP voters don't really think Snowe belongs in their party- 34% think she ought to be an independent, 33% think she should be a Democrat, and only 27% feel that the GOP is indeed her rightful place.
Snowe's approval rating with Republican primary voters is a narrowly positive 47/44 spread. It may seem surprising that her generic reelect numbers are so bad when she's above ground on approval but to keep those numbers in perspective Lisa Murkowski's approval with Republicans in January of 2010 was 77/13 and Mike Castle's in March of 2009 at an identical point in the cycle was 69/24. Their far superior numbers didn't prevent them from being taken out by the Tea Party.
The appetite is definitely there for someone to replace Olympia Snowe. Whether the folks who have already signed up to do it- Andrew Ian Dodge and Scott D'Amboise- are capable of doing so is another question. D'Amboise has only a 5% favorability rating with primary voters and 84% don't know enough about him to offer an opinion. Dodge is even more obscure with just a 2% positive rating and 86% of of voters saying they're ambivalent toward him. Because they're so obscure Snowe leads a primary with them in the mix at 43% to 18% for D'Amboise and 10% for Dodge.
Snowe shouldn't take too much solace in those numbers- pretty much all of the successful Tea Party challengers last year started out relatively unknown and well behind. But it does show the potential for her to survive by virtue of a split within the Tea Party ranks and it also shows that she's not so unpopular that you can just put someone on the ballot against her and they'll win- it's going to take a well run, well funded campaign.
Assuming that the folks who want to get rid of Snowe do coalesce behind a single challenger and run a competent campaign against her it's going to be very difficult for her to win the Republican nomination. Her best path to reelection may be as an independent, and we'll take a look tomorrow at how that might work out for her.
Full results here