Playing PredictIt, Episode 2: Day 444
Georgia Governor polling, why I believe(d) in the filibuster, and results from last week's generic ballot experiment!
The first installment of this feature was long. This one will be short! Probably.
This one’s straightforward:
Gov. Brian Kemp is the sitting governor of Georgia. He narrowly defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams in 2018 (Ms. Abrams went on to become famous for spreading Trump-style election conspiracy theories about that election) and has been successful in implementing conservative policies in Georgia. He should be a lock for the 2022 nomination and a favorite to win the general.
But he’s not, because Trump. Gov. Kemp went as far as he could to accommodate Pres. Trump’s conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, but that wasn’t far enough. Kemp ultimately certified Biden’s narrow victory in the state. This earned him the enmity of Team Trump, and Trump recently endorsed Kemp’s opponent in the primary, David Perdue. PredictIt thinks that alone will dictate the race’s outcome.
I’m skeptical. Even with vocal opposition from within his own party, Kemp still polls well enough (49% approval, well ahead of Biden in Georgia). Abrams is likely the Democratic nominee again, and Kemp has already proven he can beat her. Perdue, for his part, recently lost a general election to nothingburger-in-a-suit Jon Ossoff… and voters know that. Kemp leads comfortably in early primary polling, and is tied even after a “push” question that mentions Trump’s Perdue endorsement.
I’m not certain Kemp will win, but I think he’s at least a tossup. I’d expect him to be at 50-55% (or, for PredictIt, 50-55 cents). So when I saw him on sale at 39 cents, I bought a share. We’ll see how that goes.
Many months ago, I very cleverly decided to believe Sen. Joe Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema when they claimed they would not end the filibuster. In fact, I think there are additional moderate Democratic senators who also would not end the filibuster given the chance (lookin’ at you, Jon Tester) who just don’t want to be on the public record about it. PredictIt offered the market:
Will the Senate end filibuster on any bill with less than 3/5 support in 2021?
I was so confident that the answer was “no” that I bought two shares of this at the low low price of 32 cents back in, I don’t know, February. This was back when conventional wisdom was that, after growing frustrated with Republican obstruction, Manchin and Sinema would fall in line and kill the filibuster. (Remember, if my prediction turns out to be true, I get a dollar, so I’d earn 68 cents twice!)
I then bought an unprecedented third share a few months ago, at 97 cents. (Because, hey, I like free money, even if it’s just 3 cents.)
The reason I believed Manchin + Sinema (and disbelieved some of the others) is because the filibuster is extremely useful to moderate Democrats. In order to win Democratic primaries, red- and purple-state Democrats are required to pledge allegiance to a variety of progressive policies. But those policies are not popular with the general electorate in their reddish-purple states. For example, elected Democrats are required (by their bases) to support the For The People Act. If you don’t, you’re a racist monster, period. Opposing For The People carries substantial political costs. But some provisions of the For The People Act are very unpopular. If passed into law, Republicans would brand it a “radical election takeover bill by the federal government” (they would have a point), and that branding would succeed in red states (even if blue-state media scoffs at it). Manchin, Sinema, and other similarly-situated Democrats would be at risk of losing the next election over it.
Thanks to the filibuster, these Democrats can publicly show support for progressive legislation—enough to score points on interest-group legislative scorecards and enough to mollify their bases… without the risk of that progressive legislation actually passing into law, where it would be used against them in campaign ads.
Hey, don’t look at me: Susan Collins has been running the same grift since the Bush Administration, and it has allowed her to keep winning as a Republican in a state that wouldn’t ordinarily elect Republicans. I deeply dislike Sen. Collins—what’s the point of being a Republican if you’re not even going to be pro-life? do you really just want to be the green eyeshades of the nanny state?—but, when it came down to it, having her in office paid off: she provided the crucial vote that saved Justice Kavanaugh’s nomination, and, for me, politics is all about the Supreme Court. Collins gave reasons for her vote, as all politicians must. They were fake reasons, as most politicians’ reasons are. She voted for Kavanaugh because she calculated she couldn’t win a Republican primary in Maine after voting down a Supreme Court nominee viewed by the base as a persecuted, Clarence Thomas-style victim. Now that Kavanaugh seems ready to end Roe/Casey, she’s backing a hypothetical abortion-rights bill that couldn’t get past the filibuster.
Today, however, I bailed out of the filibuster market, selling all three shares at 96 cents for a total profit of $1.22.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to De Civitate to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.