The latest renewal of the marathon now firmly established as the biggest market in betting, record-breaking for two cycles running, is underway. Already, £37,000 has been matched on the race to be Next President, in 2024. Goodness knows what drama will materialise over the next 45 months.
Trump rated third-best for 2024
The top-three early contenders are names on whom fortunes have already been won or lost. Donald Trump is into third favourite already at 12.5 behind the current President and Vice President.
It is unique to see an incumbent first term president immediately eclipsed but market sentiment implies Kamala Harris is likelier to be the Democrat Nominee than Joe Biden. She's trading at 3.185/40 and 4.84/1 respectively for the nomination and presidency, compared to 3.814/5 and 6.611/2 for Biden.
For my money, both are pretty generous quotes.
My speculative opinion is that, indeed, Harris will be the nominee. The President will be 81 heading into that election and pretty likely inclined to retire. Had Trump not been the opponent, I doubt Biden would have run. He regularly implied, especially following the Charlottesville riots, that Trump's enabling of white supremacy had drawn him in for one last fight. His predecessor's abysmal approval ratings must have been a factor, too.
Biden could feasibly run again in his 80s
That is not a particularly confident prediction, though, as 81 isn't especially old in US politics. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is eight months older than Biden. Speaker Nancy Pelosi two years. Nobody expects either to retire any day soon.
Contrary to pre-election smears about dementia (since predictably exposed as Kremlin propaganda), Biden is in good shape. He cycles vigorously and is seen jogging on occasion. Unless some unforeseen scare happens in the meantime, any retirement date won't be announced for at least two years.
Who knows where Biden's ratings will be, or his intentions, so far into the future? Who doesn't enjoy being president? He starts with excellent approvals and has hit the ground running with executive orders. If a second term looks a slam dunk in 2023, would he really step aside?
I'm quite sure Harris and her team are professional enough to stay completely on message. They know the media will be looking at any hints of dispute or rivalry. Opponents will portray her as ruthlessly ambitious. Just keep doing what she's doing now, avoid any scandals, and the next Democrat nomination is hers to lose, whether that be 2024 or 2028.
Left primary threat is overstated
Inevitably there will be speculation of a primary challenge - of confrontation with 'The Left'. I regard this over-hyped. An attempt to employ the tired 'both sides' narrative in response to Republican divisions.
Yes, there will be disputes over policy and direction among Democrats. Do I think they would risk a split while their opponents are becoming fascist, excusing armed, deadly insurrection and domestic terrorism, promoting Congresswomen who have publicly called for executing Democrats? No.
In truth, take out a few months in 2016 following the Clinton/Sanders contest and Wikileaks' weaponisation of the Russian hack on the DNC, Democrats have been impressively united in recent years. Those arguments from 2016 are ancient history, and neither Clinton or Sanders will be contenders in 2024.
Moreover, there isn't obvious room for the Democrat left to grow. Biden has just signed a $1.9TN stimulus, largely to bail out society. He's signed executive orders for a $15 minimum wage, cancelled the controversial Keystone XI pipeline, cutting student debt. When the bots inevitably scream "neo-liberal sellout", they won't cut through.
Somebody will probably run, aiming to fill Bernie Sanders' shoes, but there's nothing to suggest desire for a more leftward stance among Democrat primary voters. He lost fair and square to Biden, for the same reason he lost to Clinton by a smaller margin. His socialist brand doesn't cut through nearly so well with black voters, especially in the South.
Backing Biden and Harris pays 2.89/5 combined. If indeed no strong challenge emerges, that is a great price.
Everything we've seen in recent elections and regarding polarisation says 2024 will be close. Democrats have only lost one popular vote this century. Their candidate will be competitive.
GOP are on a suicide mission
It is less clear that their opponents will. Republicans. Or that the Republicans won't split and be ruined by a new party of the losing faction. If they are truly to embrace the white supremacy, QAnon, domestic terrorist route, they are finished. If they don't embrace that game, Trump and his family might finish them by creating a rival party.
I don't believe the GOP have factored in how bad things could become. The evidence at the Senate trial, from the criminal cases against insurrectionists, will be devastating. Trump is staring at a mountain of legal and financial woes, no longer protected by presidential immunity. The crimes and cover-ups of his administration, particularly regarding Russia, will come out now Democrats control Congress.
One year from now, I predict three things: The Trump brand will be even more soiled than now; the Republicans will be in chaos, perhaps imploding; and most importantly for long-term bettors, the combined odds of both Harris and Biden will be shorter.
Follow Paul on Twitter and check out his website, Political Gambler.
Bet on the 2024 US Election here