Presidential election 2020

Looking Back at the US Presidential Election Betting…And Celebrating some winners!

Wow. Well that was quite an election!

Over £500m gambled on the outcome just on Betfair, some wild swings on election night and a few anxious days waiting for the final results to be tallied. 

Earlier this evening though Joe Biden was finally declared the winner and elected the next President of the United States. 

It was a relief for me and very welcome, but a bit more of a roller-coaster ride than I was expecting! Before I get into my thoughts on the election betting, here is just a quick summary of the advised bets:

  • – Joe Biden to be the Next President: 10 points MAX bet @ 1.58 and 5 point additional bet @ 1.64 (also advised at 1.5 if not already backed) White heavy check mark
  • – Kamala Harris to be Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential pick @ 1.92 White heavy check mark
  • – North Carolina Senate – Democrats to win @ 4/7  Cross mark
  • – Montana Senate – Democrats to win @ 8/11  Cross mark
  • – Democrats to win Maine @ 1.33 – 5 point bet Cross mark
  • – Democrats to win Iowa @ 1.73 – 2 point bet Cross mark
  • Back Biden with Electoral College handicap of -48.5 at 1.74 – 3 points White heavy check mark
  • – Hedge Biden Electoral College Votes of 330-359 at 5.8 & 360-389 at 8.0 – 1 point each Cross mark
  • – Back Biden to win Arizona at 1.7 – 1.5 points White heavy check mark (result not final but Biden down to 1.18)
  • – Back Biden to win Florida at 1.85 – 1.5 points Cross mark
  • – Back Biden to win Michigan at 1.4 – 5 points White heavy check mark
  • Democrats to win the Senate – traded out for 1 point profit White heavy check mark
  • – Trump to get 70 million or more votes at around 3.0-3.2 in the popular vote tally White heavy check mark
  •  Dutch Biden’s vote percentage at between 49-51.99 and 52-54.99 @ 4.4 and 2.94White heavy check mark
  • – Joe Biden to win Georgia @ 2.36 (result not final but Biden down to 1.06) White heavy check mark
  • – Lay the Republicans to win Texas @ 1.38 Cross mark
  • – Biden to win Wisconsin1.42 White heavy check mark

So overall it was a great night with the big bets on Biden winning in the next president market and in Michigan and Wisconsin, plus a couple of nice plays on Trump winning over 70m votes at 3.1 and a Dutch of Biden’s vote percentage coming in.

Where I didn’t do so well was in the Senate betting, where Democrats fell badly short. But I will cover that further below when sumarising my thoughts on the election. 

Overall though I was very pleased and hope you managed to grab a bit of the value on Biden and some of the other bets above.

 

Thoughts on the Election

Once again the polls were way off and this time it was actually worse than 2016, which itself was famed as an epic polling miss. 

When all the votes are counted it looks like the national polls will be 3-4 points off the final result, which is pretty poor. But that pales into comparison with how bad some of the state polls were:

Polling avg. vs actual results:

Florida: Biden +2.5, Trump +3
Wisconsin: Biden +8.4, Biden +0.8
Ohio: Trump +0.8, Trump +8
Texas: Trump +1.1, Trump +6
Michigan: Biden +7.9, Biden +3
Iowa: Trump +1.1, Trump +8

So some massive misses there, by nearly eight points in some cases! Whether people were lying to pollsters about how they were going to vote or pollsters just aren’t able to sample a representative group of people who knows, but either way it looks like the polls are broken in the US. 

Although most of my bets still landed and the main market still correctly predicted a Biden win, it looks like polls may not be the best way to predict elections (in the US at least, other countries still have accurate polls). Interestingly, the predictions right at the start of the campaign based on fundamentals like demographics and past votes actually proved quite a lot more accurate. So in future it might be better to look at them, plus a bit of “gut instinct” in calling the result rather than relying on polls.

Polarisation

Another element to be aware of is that you are seeing increasing polarisation in America. This is reflected in the red states staying red – Texas, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida and Iowa, amongst others, all stayed in Trump’s column pretty comfortably. The blue states in the North-East and West all remained blue and the former democrat “rust-belt” states went back to Biden after flipping to Trump in 2016.

The only exceptions to this were Arizona and Georgia which have undergone significant demographic change in recent years. 

And once again the states that voted Trump for President also voted for the Republican Senate candidate and vice versa, with the one exception of Maine which stuck with Susan Collins as Senator whilst voting for Biden for President. 

This really demonstrates how the red states are staying red and blue states are staying blue – or in other words that there is extreme polarisation. It’s a very strong trend and in future elections it could pay dividends to follow this rule of President-Senate going the same way in a state, even when the polls and odds suggest otherwise. 

In-Play Opportunities

I remarked in one of my earlier updates that there could be in-play opportunities, with the early vote favouring Trump before the mail-in votes which would favour Biden were tallied. I tweeted on the day of the election that I expected Biden would hit over 2.0 in-running.

Well that’s just how it turned out but I was amazed by how wild the swings were. Biden actually hit over 4.5 in-running at one point as the early vote favoured Trump. A shrewd trader (with strong nerves) could have profited very well from this as there was always a high chance things would swing back in Biden’s favour later. Certainly Nate Silver was never persuaded the early results were that good for Trump, even after he won Florida and North Carolina. If you ignore all the noise and follow those in the know it can really pay off in these events. 

Final Thoughts

Other than that it is too soon to unpick the election without more data – and all the votes being counted of course. Why did Trump outperform the polls so much again? Why did Biden outperform downballot Democrats? Why were the polls quite accurate in some places but way, way off in others? It gives serious food for thought as this election did not go the way most pundits were expecting and there is much to be learned going forward once we have more info and the dust has settled.

Until then though, hopefully like me you had some winners and can enjoy those successes for a little while. 

 

 

 

 

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US Presidential Election Betting – 10 Days to Go

2nd November 2020

Here we are folks…just one day until the US Presidential Election. Finally all the talk, punditry and speculation will be over and we’ll have some results at last. And I can stop obsessing about the polls for the first time in months… 

I’ve covered the betting quite extensively below in previous updates so this is just a final check-in with any notable trends or changes with one day to go. 

 

Nevada – Good News for the Dems

I remarked last time that if we were in for a shock we might see signs of it in Nevada. Trump has been polling better with Latinos this time and Nevada has quite a large Latino population.

Well the signs aren’t good for Trump. Elections expert Jon Ralston has an excellent record of following the early vote in Nevada and I’ve seen him call a number of previous elections there pretty much spot on. Here is what he says about the early vote in Nevada:

“It already was very difficult for Trump. Now he has less of a chance to win than he does of getting a gaming license in Nevada.”

His blog is quite technical for the non-expert but essentially he looks at the early vote by party registration and extrapolates from there based on various scenarios. He believes whichever way you crunch the numbers Trump’s chances of winning Nevada are extremely low. 

So I would recommend cashing out of the Nevada bet on Trump recommended last time (a lay of the Democrats at 1.28). Fortunately the odds have only moved down from 1.28 to 1.23 so it would only be a very small loss there.

 

Bigger Picture

The bigger picture is that if you plug a Democratic win in Nevada into the models, Biden goes from a 90% chance of winning the election in Fivethirtyeight’s model to a 95% chance and from a 95% to a 98% chance in the Economist’s model. 

Even without that bump the odds are still completely out of whack with the polls and models. Biden is remarkably still available at 1.52 whilst the models suggest he should be around 1.10 right now. Bear in mind Barack Obama, who had a smaller polling lead going into election day in 2008 than Biden does now, was a 1.10 shot at this stage twelve years ago.

Over 90 million Americans have already voted and over 100 million are likely to have voted before Election Day tomorrow. That is likely to be around 66% of the total vote, pretty much around what I expected – i.e. more than 60% of people voting early. It also means pollsters are able to count people who have already voted, making their polls more accurate.

Biden’s national polling lead is currently 8.5 points, which is well ahead of where Hillary Clinton was at this point in 2016 (just 3.2 points). 

The bottom line is that the only way Trump can win is if the polls are all completely and utterly wrong in a way they never have been before. The votes actually cast in Nevada give me additional confidence this will not be the case. So I would still recommend Biden as fantastic value at 1.52. 

Additionally the trends look strong for Joe Biden in Georgia, where he now leads by a point in the polling averages and has been campaigning recently, yet is available at 2.36.

I am also following Texas closely, where something quite remarkable is happening. More people have already voted in the Lone Star State than voted in the entire 2016 election, meaning turnout there is through the roof and like nothing that has been seen before in Texas.  Trump does lead the polling averages there by a point so is rightly favourite, but with sky-high turnout leading to added uncertainty, there is a chance of an upset in Texas so I am happy to lay the Republicans at 1.38 and at least give myself a good potential trading position if it looks close on Election night and the odds move towards evens. 

That’s all for now but will be back with any additional value I see over the next day and into Election Night. 

 

 

 

 

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US Presidential Election Betting – 10 Days to Go

24th October 2020

It’s now just 10 days until the US Presidential Election…and things are hotting up…but to be honest not much has actually changed.

In our last update a week ago we remarked on what great value we thought Biden was in the main Next President market at 1.58 – only for his odds to then drift out all the way to 1.7 over the next couple of days! 

We couldn’t really see any substantive reason for the drift, but it did seem to coincide with the “news” of Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine. The chances this will actually influence the election seem slim – if people were going to place importance on this then they would also question all of Trump and his family’s dodgy business dealings over the last few years. In reality people don’t care about these so-called “scandals” and are much more interested in the coronavirus, the economy and healthcare. It did seem enough for Trump supporters to pile into the market at that point though. 

It was another good opportunity to back Biden in my opinion and that’s what I did. His odds have now fallen back down to 1.5 so that seems like a good choice. 

Since last weekend we have had the final Presidential debate, which was seemingly Trump’s last chance to really change the direction of the race and land some punches on Biden. However, that didn’t really seem to happen, with independent polls concluding Biden had won the final debate. The margins of those polls were roughly the same as his overall lead over Trump though so perhaps they just reflected people’s general preferences. 

In any event, with nothing dramatic happening either in the debate or over the last week it favours Biden given his lead in the polls. As we said before, Trump badly needs something to shake up the race and just isn’t getting it, yet anyway.

The other problem for him as we remarked before is that votes are piling up – over 53 million of them so far in fact – whilst Biden has this big lead, which isn’t good news for the current President either. 

So in summary the closer we get to election day without some big move towards Trump, the more likely it is that Biden will win. 

Hence whilst Biden’s overall lead according to Fivethirtyeight.com has narrowed slightly from 10.5 last week to 9.2 at the time of writing, his chances of winning remain the same at 87% with Fivethirtyeight and 91% at the Economist. 

So whilst the odds have reduced a little from last week they still look like very good value at 1.50. 

 

Other Markets

There is some good value to be had in other markets as well, particularly when looking at the betting on individual states. 

Some people have remarked that state polls last time showed Hillary Clinton winning and that they could be off again this time. That is of course possible, although last time the state polls were primarily carried out by notoriously poor quality pollsters where as this time you have high quality pollsters doing state polls (e.g. NYT/Siena, ABC/Washington Post, Monmouth, all A+ rated and Survey USA, Suffolk University etc, A rated). These pollsters could all be off as well, but the chances this time are a good deal lower. Indeed pollsters such as NYT/Siena were very accurate with their state and district level polling in the mid-terms of 2018. 

So moving on to state level races, there have been a series of good polls from high quality pollsters recently for Joe Biden in Iowa, so much so that he now leads in the Fivethirtyeight polling average there. Yet the Republicans are still odds-on in this market. Unfortunately as with quite a few of these markets on Betfair, the liquidity isn’t great and there is quite a large spread in the odds. But if you can get anything around 1.7 to lay the Republicans to win Iowa it looks value. I have layed from 1.4-1.67 and feel those are decent odds. 

Similarly Florida has seen numerous, consistent polling leads for Biden lately and he heads the polling average by 3.1, as well as being rated a 74% chance to win the state by the Economist’s model. Yet the odds have him as pretty much even money or slightly odds-against, which again looks value. The Sunshine State has been trending Republican in recent elections which in theory makes it a heavy lift for Biden, but there are signs of a “senior revolt” in Florida from older residents angry about Trump’s handling of covid. I have backed from around 1.9 and would be happy with the current price around 2.04.

Michigan was identified last time as a rock solid 1.4 chance for Biden and I would add Wisconsin to that at 1.42. These are states with high quality polling showing a lead of 7+ points for the challenger, outside the margin of error and both of these mid-west states have good demographics for Biden compared to Hillary Clinton last time – i.e. white working class voters who are more favourable to Biden than they were for Clinton. 

Dutching Biden’s vote percentage at between 49-51.99 and 52-54.99 also looks good at 4.4 and 2.94. 

A couple of hedges you may wish to consider with so many bets on Biden are Trump to get 70 million or more votes at around 3.0-3.2 in the popular vote tally . This is looking like being a super high turnout election, probably record turnout in fact of 150m plus voters. If Trump does pull off a shock it could be in getting a lot of extra voters to the polls on election day and breaking through this mark. Let’s say turnout is 152m, then Trump would need just over 46% of the vote to get this mark. There is also a chance you could win both this bet and the Biden to be elected the next president, if Biden was to win say 54-46.

The other potential hedge would be the Republicans to win Nevada (i.e. by laying the Democrats at 1.28). One of the few positives for Trump is his improvement in polling with Hispanic voters so if that translates into actual gains, coupled with a polling error you would probably see Trump win Nevada. Keep an eye on Jon Ralston’s blog there on the early voting though which is one of the very few reputable and accurate pictures of how a state race is going based on early voting. 

So that’s this week’s update. There may be a few surprises yet so we will update this post with any other opportunities that crop up between now and the election – and on election night itself.

 

 

 

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An Updated Look at the US Presidential Election Betting

17th October 2020

A couple of months ago we put together our own look at the betting on the US Presidential Election (see below) and now that it’s just over a couple of weeks until the election, we thought we would take another look at the markets.

First up we hope you took our tip on Kamala Harris to be Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential pick at 1.92 as that bet has already won. 

Next President Market

Moving onto the main market of the Next President, it is looking like being the most gambled-on market in Betfair history, with over £137m already having been matched. 

Back in our August preview we remarked on what great value we felt Joe Biden was at 1.64 to win. Two months on and quite incredibly, despite the polls moving more in his favour and a series of missteps from Donald Trump, Biden is still available at 1.58 at the time of the writing. 

Frankly we find these odds almost unfathomable and cannot believe the value on offer. Let’s have a look at the various forecasters’ average national lead for Biden, at the time of our August preview and then today:-

 

Forecaster August Biden Lead 17th October Biden Lead
Fivethirtyeight +7.6 +10.5
Economist +10.6 +8.4
JHK Forecasts +8.5 +9
Real Clear Politics +6.4 +8.9
Leantossup +12 +10.5
Average +9 +9.46

 

As you can see, the average lead for Biden has grown since August. If you look at the forecasts of Biden’s chances of winning, they have also grown:

 

Forecaster August Biden % Chances 17th October Biden % Chances
Fivethirtyeight 70% 87%
Economist 88% 91%
JHK Forecasts 83% 88%
Real Clear Politics
Leantossup 95% 96%
Average 84% 91%

 

So again, a strong 7% move in Biden’s favour in terms of his chances of winning, which now average 91% amongst the forecasters. On that basis, Biden’s odds should be around 1.1, not 1.58.

Finally, looking at the swing state polling from Fivethirtyeight.com compared to August you have:

 

State Fivethirtyeight Biden polling average 6th August Fivethirtyeight Biden polling average 17th October
Arizona +3.5 +3.8
Florida +5.1 +4
Georgia -0.9 +1.3
Iowa -1.4 +0.2
Michigan +7.7 +7.8
North Carolina +2.3 +3.1
Ohio +0.2 -0.2
Pennsylvania +6 +6.8
Texas Even -1.4
Wisconsin +7.4 +7.7
Average +2.99 +3.31

Biden is now further ahead in the swing states than he was in August and importantly he is well clear in the three key Mid-West states of Michigan (+7.8), Pennsylvania (+6.8) and Wisconsin (+7.7). Win those plus the states carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Biden would be elected President. He wouldn’t even need any other states, but a number of the other swing states are also looking good for him including Arizona, Florida and North Carolina.

Crucially now there is a lot less time until the election for things to change and polls become much more predictive the closer you get to election day. 

We mentioned last time that the other advantage for Biden is that due to the coronavirus pandemic a lot of people were likely to vote early to avoid standing in long lines on Election Day. Well that is exactly what is happening, with a staggering 25 million people having already voted with still over two weeks until Election Day.

Map of early voting from the US Elections Project

So far the Democrats have a big advantage in terms of who has voted already according to party registration data, although in reality we shouldn’t read too much into that. What is more important is that forecasters predict over 60% of people are likely to vote before November 3rd, meaning Joe Biden’s 9-10 point advantage could already be baked in before the day of the election, giving Trump a mountain to climb on the day itself. Having more of your supporters vote early also allows the party to allocate resources more accurately in their get-out-the-vote efforts on election day itself.  

Back in August we said that this election was all about the coronavirus pandemic and whilst a few other issues have popped up in the intervening period, essentially that still remains the case. It is the number one issue for most voters in polls and Trump’s bungled handling of it has greatly hindered his chances, particularly with seniors (those aged over 65). Whilst Republicans have tended to win this group by around 10 points over the last few elections, polling points to Biden being at least tied, if not ahead with seniors this time. Given that voters under 40 overwhelmingly vote Democrat and are looking like voting by a 2-1 margin for Biden this time, losing seniors all but dooms Trump’s hopes in this election. 

We also said last time that other than a coronavirus vaccine being found before the election we couldn’t see how Trump could win reelection and we suspect even that wouldn’t be enough to save him now, as the impact both economically and politically would take time to be felt by the electorate and there is just so little time left now.

So barring some other earth-shattering event or monumental scandal involving Biden, it really does get tough to see how Trump could move the needle enough to be competitive again. 

As we say, the odds for Biden should be around 1.1 right now rather than 1.58, so this represents exceptional value. We really can’t understand why the odds are so high. Clearly there has been a reaction to 2016 and people are scared it could happen all over again. But this is not 2016. Biden is well ahead of where Hillary Clinton was at this point, he has much better favourability ratings than she had, is consistently polling above 50% which Hillary Clinton very rarely did and there are far fewer undecided voters this time. 

The only question left is whether the polls could be wrong. People point to the polls being wrong in 2016, but in fact the national polls were only one point off the actual final result according to the Real Clear Politics Average going into Election Day. On most occasions polling averages are only 1-2 points off, so we would have to be talking about something unprecedented and frankly crazy for the polls to be off by like 7-8 points to give Trump a chance. 

The 2016 polling average from Real Clear Politics was only 1 point off the actual result.

There are some (perhaps justified) fears that Trump will not concede the election and will claim (without evidence) that there has been massive “voter fraud” over mail-in voting. However, if he loses by anything like as much as current polling suggests, that line just won’t be sustainable and we can’t see how Biden won’t be declared President and installed in the White House, even if they have to literally drag Trump out – which ultimately we don’t think he will want the humiliation of. 

The odds on Biden may be so high primarily because of Trump supporters piling into the betting markets in the vain hope that another huge upset occurs.

Barring some earth-shattering event occurring (e.g. WW3) however, we just can’t see it happening and think there is great value to be had in a number of markets right now. 

Recommended Bets:

Back Biden to be elected the Next President at 1.58 – 10 points (or 15 points if not backed already at 1.64)

Back Biden with Electoral College handicap of -48.5 at 1.74 – 3 points

Hedge Biden Electoral College Votes of 330-359 at 5.8 & 360-389 at 8.0 – 1 point each

Back Biden to win Arizona at 1.7 – 1.5 points 

Back Biden to win Florida at 1.85 – 1.5 points

Back Biden to win Michigan at 1.4 – 5 points

 

 

Senate Majority Market

We remarked back in August on the favourable odds of a Democratic majority in the Senate, but unfortunately we didn’t notice Betfair’s absolutely ludicrous rules for this market. For some ridiculous reason we cannot fathom, they have decided to make the rules so that Democrats’ total won’t include Senators Bernie Sanders and Angus King Jr, who are officially “independent” but for every practical purpose are Democrats – they caucus with the Democrats, vote with the Democrats, raise money for and from the Democrats – hell, Bernie Sanders even ran to be the Democrats’ candidate for President, twice! 

Lord knows what has possessed Betfair to do this. It has completely screwed up this market and I can see an endless series of complaints and anger from Betfair customers who may not have realised. Completely and utterly ridiculous. 

Anyway, the good news is that if you did hedge the Democrat Majority/No Majority following our advice last time you can still trade it out for a small profit and that is what we recommend you do. Essentially to back a “Democratic Majority” on that market you are now betting that they get 53 seats or more. That looks a bit of a stretch to us and it’s tough to call if they will get there – we think 50-52 is the likely mark, barring any big upsets on election night. 

Strangely very few bookies have priced up this market either and given the vagaries of it you may be best leaving it alone. 

If you want a bet, check the bookies’ terms and conditions first as to how they will count the two “independent” senators who caucus with the Democrats. 

Recommended bets:

No bets – cash out of Betfair market (for small profit) if you hedged the Dem majority/no majority recommended previously.

 

Senate Races:

The betting in individual Senate races is more straightforward thankfully, and the Democrats are poised to pick up some key seats. We like their chances in Maine, Iowa, North Carolina and Arizona. 

Plus there are some interesting “long shot” bets worth considering, in South Carolina (current odds 2.75 in a race that is essentially tied) and Alaska (the Independent is 3.0 in a close race). We wouldn’t have those as official bets but in the scenario of a Biden landslide (v much possible) these could be in play.

 

Recommended Bets

Democrats to win Maine at 1.33 – 5 point bet

Democrats to win Iowa at 1.73 – 2 point bet

Democrats to win North Carolina at 1.57 – 4 point bet

(Previously recommended Montana and North Carolina for the Dems – do not back again if you already backed them. Montana could be worth a small interest for the Dems at 2.25 if you haven’t backed it already). 

 

House Betting

The Democrat price of 1.13 still represents value if you wanted to back at those odds, but sadly there is not enough liquidity in any other markets to make it worthwhile betting in them.

 

In-Play Opportunities

There may also be some in-play opportunities on election night itself. Basically there is a chance that the early returns will favour Trump, as it will take states longer to count the mail-in votes that will heavily favour Democrats. So it may look like Trump is winning early on, causing the odds to move in his direction and representing a good trading opportunity.

However, the potential snag in this theory is that Florida will be one of the first to report results and they count their mail-in votes as they come in. If Biden wins Florida then the race is all over – Trump cannot win the election without Florida. So the result may become clear early in the night.

Anyway, it will be something to keep an eye on. If the early returns favour Trump there could be a trading opportunity, as long as Biden isn’t clearly ahead in Florida.

 

Final Thoughts

Biden is fantastic value currently and we are keen to find some more bets on markets backing to him to win in a landslide, which we believe is very much on the cards. We will keep a look out for any value that pops up and may post some more bets before election day.

 

 

 

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An Early Look at the US Presidential Election Betting

6th August 2020

It is now less than three moths until the US Presidential Election when Donald Trump faces off against Joe Biden. It is sure to be a hotly contested election and being held in the middle of a pandemic makes it unprecedented in modern times. 

We have done very well with our political betting predictions in the past so thought it would be a good time to take an early look at this year’s betting. 

We will preview a number of different markets in turn and see where the value lies. 

 

Next President Market

First up is the biggest market of all: who will win the Presidential Election. At the moment we think Joe Biden represents excellent value at 1.64 to win. 

Looking at the various forecasters’ models, you have Biden with average national leads of:

  • Fivethirtyeight: +7.6
  • Economist: +10.6
  • JHK Forecasts: +8.5
  • – Real Clear Politics: +6.4
  • – Leantossup: +12

So quite a wide spread of forecasts there but Biden’s national lead varies between six and twelve points, which would be a landslide either way. 

Of course the election isn’t decided by the national popular vote but instead at a state level via the Electoral College. Looking at the key swing states, according to Fivethirtyeight we have the following leads:

  • – Arizona: Biden +3.5
  • – Florida: Biden: +5.1
  • – Georgia: Trump: +0.9
  • – Iowa: Trump: +1.4
  • – Michigan: Biden: +7.7
  • – North Carolina: Biden +2.3
  • – Ohio: Biden +0.2
  • – Pennsylvania: Biden +6
  • – Texas: Even
  • – Wisconsin: Biden +7.4

It is a very positive picture for Biden, in particular that he has big leads in the three key Midwest states that he needs to win the election: Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. What is even more encouraging is that his lead in those states is pretty similar to his national lead – suggesting that Trump may not have such a commanding Electoral College advantage in those areas as he had over Hillary Clinton last time. 

An alternative route to the White House for Biden would be to simply take Florida plus Michigan, which again he looks in a good position to do right now. 

In addition to the polling-based forecasts, history professor Allan Lichtman, who uses an entirely different model for forecasting elections and has correctly predicted every presidential election since 1980 (if you allow him an adjustment for the electoral college/popular vote divergence in 2000), also called the Election for Biden yesterday.

JHK Forecasts currently has Joe Biden with an 82.7% chance of winning the election.

So given Biden’s commanding lead in the both national and state-level polls and some forecasters giving him a 90%+ chance of winning, why the odds of 1.64? 

Well there’s a simple answer to that question: 2016. 

Yes, pollsters, forecasters, pundits and especially gamblers are still haunted by the ghost of 2016 when everyone (well, almost everyone) predicted a thumping Hillary Clinton win. Remember those NY Times models showing her with a 95% chance of winning? 

It is worth pointing out however that most pollsters have adjusted their modelling to give more weight to voters’ education, which they failed to do in 2016. In simple terms voters with low levels of education voted more strongly for Trump in 2016 than expected and this accounted for a large degree of pollsters’ error last time. This has supposedly been adjusted for this time.

The other factor of course is that there are still nearly three months until election day and a lot could happen between now and then. This is true, although short of a vaccine being found for coronavirus or some other earth-shattering event, we find it difficult to see how things could turn around dramatically enough for Trump to emerge victorious.

The covid crisis is only getting worse in the US, particularly in many of the key swing states where the election will be decided. Even if these states went into complete lockdown, it would take up to three months for the virus to be contained, as we have seen in Europe. However, it doesn’t appear these states are going into full lockdown so it is likely that covid cases and sadly deaths will continue to be high, which is bad news for Trump who surveys show is perceived to have handled the crisis poorly. The consequent economic damage of the ongoing pandemic will also hamper his chances of reelection. As we say, it seems only a vaccine being found could conceivably change the mood enough and create economic optimism to the extent that Trump would be back in with a chance. 

Even worse for Trump however is that a number of the key swing states have early voting. This means people can vote up to five weeks before election day, either in person or by mail. Surveys suggest over 60% of people are intending to vote early, meaning Trump has even less time to turn things around – less than two months now until early voting starts in some states. 

On the flip side, one small note of optimism for Trump is that polls have started to show a small improvement for him over the last couple of weeks, so it could be worth watching if that continues.

Without a dramatic move in his favour though we can only see one result at the moment and that makes the 1.64 on Joe Biden look very good value right now. If his polling leads are anything like this going into October/November then the odds are likely to be in the 1.2 to 1.3 range.

Recommended Bet: Joe Biden @ 1.64 (Betfair exchange)

 

Vice Presidential Pick

Biden will pick his candidate for Vice President soon and it looks likely it will be Kamala Harris. Biden has already said he will pick a woman and more recently said he would like to choose a woman of colour. 

The field has narrowed down to a shortlist of three or four and the frontrunners in the market are Harris and Susan Rice. It seems unlikely Biden would pick someone for Vice President who hasn’t been elected before so that casts doubt on Rice and leaves Harris as the clear and obvious choice. The only question mark against her is that she launched scathing attacks on Biden during the Democratic Primary TV debates, which caused some bad blood between them. 

Senator Kamala Harris is the favourite to be Joe Biden’s running mate in November.

Short of other credible candidates though who would be “ready for the job on day one” as Biden has put it, he may be forced to overlook their previous tensions and go for the safe pick of Harris for his running mate.

Recommended Bet: Kamala Harris to be Biden’s pick for VP at 1.92

 

Senate Markets

The race for Senate is very interesting this year as it is so delicately poised. Republicans currently hold a 53-47 advantage in the Senate but are playing defence this time.

Of they key races, we currently see the following contests as likely Democrat pick-ups:

  • – Colorado
  • – Arizona

  Then the Republicans are likely to pick up:

  • – Alabama

There are then the following races that look pretty good for Democrats, what we would rate as “Lean Democrat”:

  • – North Carolina
  • – Maine

So if those races go as we expect it leaves the race tied 50-50.

However, there are a number of toss-up races that could go either way, including:

  • – Georgia
  • – Montana
  • – Iowa

Kansas would have been on this list too if Kris Kobach was the Republican candidate but he lost his primary race earlier this week which means the seat is likely to remain in Republican hands. 

So essentially as we see it at the moment Democrats need at least one of these toss-up races to win a majority in the Senate. How it goes will likely depend on how the Presidential race turns out. Should Biden win by five points or more nationally then Democrats will almost certainly win back the Senate, as voters increasingly vote “down ballot” (voting for the same party in all races in their state, from President on down) these days.  

The race for control of the US Senate is likely to be a closely-run contest.

If Biden wins by around 2-3 points, then the race for the Senate will become incredibly tight and we expect it may end up 50/50. Anything less than that though and the Republicans would be expected to hang on to the Senate. 

At the moment the odds on Democrats winning the Senate look very appealing at around 3.0, although it might be prudent to also hedge on No majority at around 2.4.  You may also want to wait to see how polls are shaping up a little closer to the election.  

In terms of individual races, we like the following ones currently:-

  • – North Carolina – Democrats 4/7 (Betfred, Betway)
  • – Montana – Democrats 8/11 (Betfred)

As we say with overall Senate control though, it may be best to wait a little while to see how the national Presidential polls are shaping up because they will have a significant bearing on Senate races. 

 

House Markets

In terms of the House of Representatives, the current odds of 1.14 for the Democrats look about right. There aren’t enough odds on individual races at the moment so we will have to wait until nearer the time for that. 

 

Conclusion

So there are our early picks for the upcoming US elections. Unless something dramatic happens like a vaccine for coronavirus being found before 3rd November, it looks like Donald Trump is heading for defeat – and quite possibly a heavy defeat. The markets are still scarred by what happened in 2016 however so there is value to be found in backing Biden and the Democrats to do well in November. 

 

 

 

 

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