If you thought 2016 was a freak political year, ahead of a return to business as usual, think again. Next week, the unlikeliest President in US history will take office and Donald Trump shows no sign of evolving into anything like we've come to expect in a national leader.
It is impossible to understate the political earthquake that has taken place or confidently predict what lies ahead. Trump has changed the rules and repeatedly defied rivals, enemies, pundits and betting markets. Yet already people are betting on him failing to last a full term. Money was matched at [4.1] today, equating to a 24% likelihood, that he would be gone by the end of 2017.
Business as usual would involve a new president coming to office with the approval of at worst half the country. Trump starts with a -14% approval rating, with just 37% favorable. By comparison, Obama leaves office with 55% approval and his net rating at this same moment in January 2008 was around 50 points net higher.
Next week's inauguration will make for a surreal occasion. America is more politically divided than ever and Trump the least popular entering office. With his stunning electoral college victory already tainted having lost the popular vote by nearly 3M, the ongoing Russia scandal and perception that Vladimir Putin fixed the election has the potential to delegitimise his presidency.
Business as usual would not entail the incoming President comparing the USA to Nazi Germany. Yet that's precisely how Trump responded on Twitter to the publication of an unverified, leaked FBI document claiming Russia held compromising sexual and financial information about him.
Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to "leak" into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
Trump typically maintained that ferocity at today's press conference, attacking Buzzfeed as a 'left-wing blog' and refusing to take questions from CNN (who reported that the President-Elect had been briefed about the document without details), labeling them 'fake news'.
While partially conceding that he thinks Russia hacked the election, Trump dodged questions about whether any of his team were in contact with them during the campaign. Those questions will doubtless resurface as they will regarding his claims to have no business in Russia or relationship with Putin, contradicting this 2013 interview.
Another ongoing problem concerns potential conflicts of interest. Trump initially called the press conference to lay out plans to separate his business interests whilst in office. Neither the plan to hand control of his business over to his children, (nor the appointment of son-in-law Jared Kushner as a special advisor), will appease his critics or quell the endless cycle of controversy and publicity. Before he even takes office, 62% believe Trump will use it to enrich his family.
One reason Trump was able to get past his many controversies during the campaign was that there were so many of them. Opponents and media were unable to control the cycle, leaving many under-reported. With hindsight, rather than sexism and racism - about which pretty much everyone was well aware and already held an opinion - Clinton would have fared better focusing hard on Russia, his business record and lack of transparency.
Nevertheless, those issues aren't going away, will be explored further and could dog Trump's time in office. As will every wrong step he takes. This is the problem with being consistently unfavorable with 60% of the country. They will make a lot of noise, and political opponents will relish seizing any limelight by taking up the cause.
It seems likely that there will at least be attempts to impeach him at some stage of the next four years. Whether it succeeds is questionable. The lack of bipartisanship in American politics may prove Trump's saviour, as any process would require the support of at least some Republicans. On the ground, any allegation can be dismissed as 'fake news'.
Whatever the eventuality, the Trump era will be a rocky, if entertaining, ride. The current odds of [2.5] about him winning in 2020 make no appeal whatsoever. There are many hurdles to cross before even worrying about whether the Democrats can improve on Clinton's dismal performance.
More immediately, expect plenty of speculation and action in our new Trump Exit Date market - which offers an alternative to the regular markets on Next President, Winning Party and for both Republican and Democrat Nominee.