US Politics

US Election: Three outsiders to back at big odds instead of Michelle Obama

US Vice President Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris would be in pole position were Biden to withdraw

Michelle Obama is a big market mover in our US Election betting but Paul Krishnamurty says that if you're looking to find an outsider instead of Trump and Biden, this trio are better bets...

  • Michelle Obama's odds crashing fast

  • Neither Trump or Biden is secure

  • Speculation always drives election gambles

Both primaries look foregone conclusions and the narrative is set - 2024 will be a rematch of 2020. Biden v Trump II.

But while the betting does indeed signal that match- up in November, there is enough of a gap in the odds to leave room for doubt.

Obama now clear third favourite

Indeed, the big gamble during January wasn't for either Trump or Biden, but somebody who isn't in the race and has consistently said she has no intention of running for office. Michelle Obama's odds have more than halved in recent weeks, standing at 12.5 today, equivalent to an 8% chance.

This follows a similar gamble on California Governor Gavin Newsom into single figures, but now back out to 38.037/1. Simply, bettors are looking for an alternative to Biden. Somebody who could be crowned by the Democratic National Committee in an open convention, following Biden's withdrawal. Or perhaps later, if the 81 year-old is forced out by health issues.

This theory is given extra traction by players on the Republican side. Vivek Ramaswamy repeatedly claimed Obama or somebody else would be shoe-horned in. Bill Mitchell - former Trump influencer turned despairing Ron DeSantis cheerleader - reckons the Democrat process is a sham, designed to lure Republicans into picking their least electable candidate (Trump), and that a superior candidate such as Obama will be selected when it is too late for Republicans to change.

Of course there are also very legitimate reasons to doubt Trump will make it to November. We await a decision from the Supreme Court regarding whether states can remove him from the ballot. He will go on trial for 91 criminal indictments in four cases - the first of which could well be settled before the Republican National Convention in July. Polls show a convicted Trump losing badly. Whilst he is likely to thrash Nikki Haley at the ballot box, in theory the party could think again.

US elections usually produce wild gambles

I find it hard to believe either theory will come off but that doesn't negate trading possibilities.

In 2020, Hillary Clinton was gambled down to around 20.019/1 despite never entering the race. Mike Pence hit around 40.039/1 when Trump contracted Covid.

Four years earlier both Biden and Bernie Sanders traded at single figures very late, after the general election ballots had been sent out, when Clinton collapsed at a 9/11 memorial in the extreme Manhattan heat, and again after the email scandal resurfaced.

Bettors who took huge odds in those cases were able to cash out with substantial profits when speculation reached fever pitch. There are plenty more examples from US elections where 1000.0999/1 chances have fallen to the low hundreds. The nature of this marathon, with an anarchic news cycle, means trading opportunities galore.

So, rather than backing Obama long after the rumour, it makes more sense to look for would-be candidates at much bigger odds. Then if the speculation does mount, trade out at half or maybe a much lower fraction of the odds. Here's my idea of the three best such opportunities.

Kamala Harris @ 85.084/1

I don't buy for a second that there is a process in place to remove Biden, but it isn't an eventuality to be ruled out, given his age and stubbornly dire approvals. But if it happens, I think the Democrats would be plunged into an emergency process, for which they are not prepared.

We could speculate about countless alternatives but, in the absence of a process, the serving Vice President will be in pole position and very hard to dislodge. I can't envisage Obama being keen to usurp a better qualified black woman. In any case, hypothetical polls among Democrat primary voters always show Harris ahead. For my money, in this theoretical scenario, she's heavily odds-on to be the nominee.

Therefore, odds of 85.084/1 could very well shorten up considerably before November. If she is confirmed as the running mate at the convention, her name is on the ballot. The party would not remove her. All it takes is Biden to have a fall, get ill, or merely a conspiracy theory to go viral and those Harris odds would crash, just like the aforementioned examples in the last two elections.

Back Kamala Harris @ 85.084/1

Bet now

Tucker Carlson @ 800.0799/1

I am definitely open to the idea of Trump being hit by a catastrophe. A conviction and jail sentence is not out of the question.

But the market looks completely wrong in regarding Nikki Haley as the default alternative. All signals point to her being trounced in the next few primaries, and Trump's wing of the party spew out bile at her constantly. Were the party to try and impose her later, Haley would lack all legitimacy.

Rather, in such an extreme scenario, the candidate would require Trump's endorsement. The likes of Ramaswamy and Tim Scott are enthusiastically surrogating for Trump in hope of that, or being selected as VP. They are plausible, but I'd rather go for somebody closer to Trump's famous outsider profile, with the potential to become the new MAGA darling.

Just as Trump is Vladimir Putin's most reliable advocate in US politics, Tucker Carlson fills the same role in media. Since hosting his show in Budapest, home to Putin's number one ally in Europe, 'Tucker' has been constantly hyped and quoted on Russian state media.

The parallels with their hyping of Trump before he ran for office are unmistakeable and the idea has been touted by usual suspects like Seb Gorka. Nobody smears Zelensky and undermines support for Ukraine with such enthusiasm. I'm convinced he's their reserve and note that Trump spoke positively about his potential to be his Vice President.

Back Tucker Carlson @ 800.0799/1

Bet now

Jamie Dimon @ 410.0409/1

Were the Republican nomination to suddenly become vacant, all sorts of possibilities come into play. As they proved with Trump, the GOP base is very open to backing businessmen with no political experience. It is in fact a positive.

My fellow political bettor Adrian Smith (@lovejoyantiques on Twitter) has convinced me that one or more billionaires will jump in. Then I saw JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon blatantly pandering to MAGA.

I can't see another reason for those remarks other than preparing the ground for a run, should an opportunity arise. Dimon used to be regarded as a high-cultured friend of Barack Obama and was even tipped to serve in his Cabinet. He does not see the world like Trump.

Would I give Dimon a prayer of becoming President? No. Can I see his odds shortening up dramatically? Yes. In 2020, Michael Bloomberg traded as 5.04/1 second favourite to Trump, before failing spectacularly. The market would be spooked by Dimon's connections and spending power.

Back Jamie Dimon @ 410.0409/1

Bet now

Now read US Election latest after Trump wins New Hampshire

Follow Paul on Twitter and check out his website, Political Gambler.


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Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.