US Politics

2024 US Election: Why I'm content to be against both Trump and Biden

Joe Biden and Donald Trump
Betfair markets rate a Trump v Biden rematch as 67% likely

Our betting strongly indicates a Trump v Biden rematch next November but Paul Krishnamurty explains why he's been betting against both...

  • Markets point firmly to 2020 rematch

  • Biden candidacy has shades of 2016

  • Trump could still unravel


Earlier this month, I reported the following bet on Twitter. It is a significant change of my positions on the 2024 US Election, and reflected a deep concern that Joe Biden's re-election bid is not going to plan. Compared to how I rated Donald Trump's chances at the same stage of the last two elections, his current position feels far superior.

However to be clear, my position for 2024 is not now 'pro-Trump'. Rather, he and Biden both return around a 40 unit loss. Besides a few temporary trades, all my bets on the market have been 'lays', thus accumulating the profit on everyone else.

Therefore while the likely two candidates both yield a loss, the likes of Gavin Newsom, Kamala Harris and countless other unconsidered names yield 300 units profit. So here's how I see the race, entering primary season.

No obvious path to block either favourite

Conventional wisdom strongly suggests that odds of 1.4840/85 about a Trump/Biden rematch are correct. Biden isn't going to face a serious primary challenge and Trump is 50 points ahead of his nearest rival for the Republican Nomination.

Yet I still don't think that match-up is cast in stone and, more to the point, can recall numerous crazy gambles against conventional wisdom during election years. It is still very early and I retain high hopes of covering that 40 unit risk on others at some stage.

Trump too short to be rated a value option

First, let's deal with Trump. No doubt, his polling is better than before previous elections and his stranglehold over most of the Republican Party remains tight. The man most likely to challenge him, Ron DeSantis, has been all but destroyed by the same meme factory that took out Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in 2016.

Nevertheless, knowing the details of the indictments, civil lawsuits and probably ruinous fines pending against his business, I just cannot consider him a certainty for anything and not a 'value' bet at 2.447/5 for the presidency. And that's before seeing his ever more deranged posts and rallies. Do these Christmas Day posts smack of a sane individual, capable of running a competent campaign?

TrumpXmas2.jpg

TrumpXmas.jpg

Trump's delay tactics are yielding some fruit regarding his court cases and a Conservative Supreme Court may ride to his rescue. Whilst we do not yet know for absolute certain that he won't be removed from some ballots due to the 14th Amendment, which cites insurrectionists are ineligible, I'm not seeing many convincing predictions that these blocks will stand up.

In fact, they probably help him, reinforcing the sense of victimhood. The longer we wait for a trial, the closer that is to the election, the more politically motivated they will appear to voters not following every step of this complicated process.

Conviction is likely and ruinous

Assuming Trump does face trial, though, I do believe he will be convicted. The evidence laid out in his various indictments is overwhelming. I also believe he will be forced to pay extraordinarily high damages in the New York fraud case and to E. Jean Carroll for her civil lawsuit. Various polls show a convicted Trump will take a substantial hit.

Two theories here. First, I'm wary of such polls. At Trump's lowest moments - Pussygate, impeachment, the first 2020 debate, January 6th - his polls fell sharply. They rebounded every time.

Alternatively, it could be that Trump is polling better because he's not really making headline news anymore. His presence, his noise, drives and incentivises opponents, who remain a majority of Americans.

Nikki Haley surging in New Hampshire

Another problem he faces is Nikki Haley. Polls show her getting very close in New Hampshire and I suspect they will get better as we near that primary on Jan 23rd. That state, with its high proportion of independents, is not reflective of the GOP base, but it will mean there is a race on. Could he seriously continue swerving TV debates after a loss? Would that increasingly deranged behaviour become clearer to a larger audience?

As explained previously, I remain unconvinced that Haley could ever appeal to enough Republicans to win the nomination and that, if she does start really hurting Trump, others could come into consideration. But be clear, a Haley nomination is Biden's worst nightmare.

Minor candidates spell danger for Biden

My loss of faith in Biden reflects the parallels I can see with 2016. Then, he opted out and the Democrats stuck with an unpopular candidate in Hillary Clinton. Minor party candidates ate into the shares of her and Trump, and damaged her more when it mattered. In 2024, see Robert F Kennedy Jr. and Cornel West. I'm certain both are spoiler candidates to help Trump.

I see similar complacency from Democrat voices who seem unmoved by abysmal approval ratings below 40%. They point to his economic record, but where is the boost? I'm very sceptical that in an era of ultra-partisanship and micro-targeted propaganda, those conventional measures still apply.

And what if the economy turns sour? What if the world remains on fire? Republicans and their media machine will brand Biden a weak old man, incapable of leading in times of crisis. Reality is irrelevant - the Trump era proved that.

Repeating 2020 coalition looks a tall order

Biden won by marshalling an extraordinary coalition of 81M votes, and the outcome was still close. It seems very hard to see how he could repeat that. Perhaps the messaging from Trump - overtly fascist rhetoric and threats of dictatorship - will restore that coalition and alienate waverers. But what if the 75M who voted for Trump in 2020 are undeterred by his dystopian agenda?

In a straight match, where those minor candidates fall away to irrelevance, I would still make Biden the favourite. But we are unlikely to get all that and, as it stands, he's heading for a defeat which may signal the end of democracy. If polls don't improve, or get worse, or events destabilise Biden, I am not ruling out a sudden retirement.

Remember too how febrile the betting can get. All it would take is for some rumours to go viral, or for Biden to fall in public or get ill, and we could see betting mayhem.

Hence why I'm happy to keep outsiders onside. For the Democrats that means Newsom, Harris, Gretchen Whitmer, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. For Republicans that means DeSantis and Tucker Carlson. Their paths may not seem obvious, but this election represents unchartered territory.

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

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