Odds on Democrats winning the Maine Senate seat have surged into the mid-60s based on news reports that challenger Sara Gideon outraised Republican incumbent Susan Collins by nearly 300 percent in the first quarter.
Collins, in my view, is still overpriced and could crater in the coming months as consistent polling shows her lagging.
I have been itching to short Collins since Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court hearings.
Collins’s approach to the Kavanaugh vote and its aftermath speaks to her political skill—or lack thereof.
As soon as Trump announced his intention to nominate Kavanaugh, it became clear that the vote would center on two issues—abortion and executive power. In this case, executive powers for an unhinged president poll with low favorability in Maine. I wrote in my private PredictIt group at the time that I didn’t see how Collins would have a mandate from her constituents to vote to confirm Kavanaugh. I bought early NOs expecting a spike in the market once she delved into his record.
Once Christine Ford’s allegations came to light, I assumed Collins would recognize that voting No on Kavanaugh was an obvious choice if she intended to win re-election. From my post in the PI group at the time:
What I’m not understanding is what Collins gains with a yes vote. If she votes no, she gets points with her constituency and staves off left-wing hell. Kavanaugh will get confirmed anyway. RNC will continue to back her as long as she’s an incumbent. What does she get for a yes vote? What can Trump and McConnell do for her that they won’t do regardless?
I found baffling not only Collins’s vote to confirm Kavanaugh, but also the reasoning she gave for her decision. Not only did she ignore in her floor speech any of the allegations against Kavanaugh having to do with his conduct at Yale or his drinking generally, she also offered a prediction that will likely come back to haunt her: Like past Republican appointees O’Connor, Souter, and Kennedy, Federalist Society favorite Kavanaugh would not ultimately overturn the Court’s abortion precedents.
Insofar as political calculus weighed on her mind at all, the strongest rationale I can see is that she feared a Republican primary challenger. I suspect a Trump loyalist would have stepped up to challenge her. But if Collins doubted her ability to get the GOP establishment behind her and win 55 percent in the primary, she should have also recognized how serious her re-election challenge was more generally.
Since the Kavanaugh vote, Collins has shown every indication that she is an aging, out-of-touch establishment Republican who lacks the political skill and fundraising prowess to navigate Maine’s political dynamics.
She hardly appeals to the state’s vocal minority of populists and Trump supporters—the type of voters who delivered the Governor’s mansion to Paul LePage.
She also offers little to an independent state with a fired up Democratic base that looks like it intends to punish Trump in November.
The opportunity may be gone for cheap shares in the Maine Senate market, but shorting Collins in the low 60s still strikes me as a solid play.
Keendawg, Zoltar and I discuss this and more in our latest podcast.
Pratik Chougule is a contributor to Star Spangled Gamblers and author of the book, How to Make Money from Political Predictions: A Guide to Generating High, Steady Returns on PredictIt. Follow him on Twitter @pjchougule.