Despite hard economic times and an electorate that generally favors democrats, Republican Susan Collins is leading the Senate race against Democrat Tom Allen. “‘The Collins phenomenon is parallel to the Palin phenomenon,’ says Sandy Maisel, a political scientist from Colby College in Waterville, referring to Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. ‘It is very hard to attack someone who is a nice person — and she is viewed as a nice person in the state.'”