In a state moving away from Mr Trump, Ms Collins seemed like an easy choice and donors poured money into the state. For weeks leading up to the election, polls showed Ms Collins was fighting for her survival, spent two to one by her rival. But on November 3, she won by eight points, largely thanks to a surge of support in small towns.
In Rumford, who toppled the Republican in 2016, voters thought the reasons were clear: The Gideon campaign, they said, was too focused on national politics. It was too negative, they complained. And it cost too much money, too much out-of-state money.
“It was like being a local in Woodstock in 1969,” said Dan Shea, professor of government at Colby College. “At first it was exciting and fun, but at the end it was muddy and dirty. I guess the yields declined in September. “
Targeted ad spending, of course, works in some cases. Arizona’s Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly was backed by $ 38.7 million in donations in the last three months of the race and defeated Martha McSally, the Republican incumbent, in a traditionally conservative state.
But Maine offers an example of how a nationalized and generous effort can backfire. Maine’s media market is tiny, and the cost of advertising is so low that campaigns have struggled to spend the money they had.
As a result, viewers were inundated with commercials starting in the spring, accusing Ms Collins of selling to special interests or ceding to Mr Trump. And these expenses – perceived to come from out of state – were not suitable for many Mainers.
“If you put $ 100 million here, you are trying to buy the election,” said David Libby, 65, a coppersmith from Rumford.