Smart Ideas: How Many Votes Will Scandal Cost Chris Collins?

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., waves to the crowd before the arrival of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign stop at the First Niagara Center, Monday, April 18, 2016, in Buffalo, N.Y.
AP Photo/John Minchillo
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Aug. 9, 2018, 8 p.m.

Scandal effectively erases Collins's incumbency advantage

Nate Silver, writing for FiveThirtyEight

With his indictment on insider trading charges, Rep. Chris Collins’s should be wary. Scandals do indeed hurt incumbents that make it to the general election. A study of incumbents in the past 20 years that dealt with scandal shows them losing an average of nine points from their projected margin of victory, with all but three underperforming their projections. This effect “is potentially greater in competitive districts, where the other party has an opportunity to mobilize a real alternative. ... In districts less competitive than NY-27, scandals cost the incumbents only 4 percentage points, on average. But in districts that were as competitive or more competitive than NY-27, candidates with scandal issues underperformed their fundamentals by an average of almost 13 points.” The roughly 12-point incumbency advantage is therefore wiped out by a scandal in a seat like this, making it act like an open seat race, but “it doesn’t necessarily reverse the advantage. Republicans would be favored to win an open-seat race in NY-27, even amidst a very blue national political environment, so they’re probably still favored with Collins on the ballot too.”

Expanding OPIC a waste of effort

Brett Schaefer and James M. Roberts, writing for the Daily Signal

We shouldn’t take Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross at his word that rebranding and doubling in size the Overseas Private Investment Corporation will “help the United States offset the influence China allegedly buys in Africa though its neomercantilist, trillion-dollar Belt & Road Initiative.” In its 47 years of existence, OPIC has generally failed at helping African countries move to market economies. Half of its $6 billion invested in Africa for 2018 is going to Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa, none of which “has made appreciable progress toward a freer economy.” Additionally, OPIC’s “portfolio shows it is not particularly active in the sectors China has focused on—construction, transportation, mining, oil, and gas. Even where there is overlap between Chinese investment and its portfolio, such as in power generation, China focuses primarily on coal and oil power, and OPIC focuses on renewable energy sources.”

Increased document disclosure hurts Supreme Court

Jonathan Bernstein, writing for Bloomberg Opinion

Democrats’ request of documents related to Brett Kavanaugh’s service in George W. Bush's White House shows how increased disclosure requirements for nominees “threaten to rob the court of people with any record of public service. If the goal was finding some random email to blow out of proportion, that would be bad enough. But in this case, the vetting demands of Democrats are simply meant to sink Kavanaugh’s chances, something that a normal president would have realized before tossing him off the short list.” While wanting to see documents related to his tenure as staff secretary is fair, and similar to what Republicans required of former solicitor general Elena Kagan, it only contributes to presidents in the future choosing “only the stealthiest of stealth nominations—inexperienced, uninteresting lawyers with as little a public record as possible.”

In this Aug. 7, 2018, photo, President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, officiates at the swearing-in of Judge Britt Grant to take a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit at the U.S. District Courthouse in Washington. Kavanaugh has expressed concern about federal agencies running amok. But his view that they should adhere strictly to laws passed by Congress worries liberals. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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