US Politics

New Hampshire Primary: The last significant night of primary season?

Former US President Donald Trump
Donald Trump is hardening at the top of the 2024 betting

Donald Trump appears set to dominate the New Hampshire Primary and all but settle the Republican nomination. Paul Krishnamurty analyses tomorrow's two races...

  • DeSantis withdraws

  • Haley trailing badly in polls

  • Could Phillips destabilise Biden?

As the headline indicates, I have depressing news for the political betting community. A process that we spend four years keenly anticipating, hoping will last for months with various twist and turns, appears to be over in less than a fortnight.

Trump near-certain to win

Going into tomorrow's New Hampshire Primary, Donald Trump is heading rapidly towards even money on our Election Winner market, and is expected to all but secure the Republican Nomination within days. As I write, he is trading at near-unbackable odds of 1.031/33 to win this key primary - arguably his hardest test of the entire process and for which he was trading above 1.51/2 less than a fortnight ago.

Trump's supremacy and effective ownership of the Republican Party was emphasised on Sunday, when Ron DeSantis withdrew and endorsed the former President. One year ago, the Florida Governor was around 2/1 to win the presidency and odds-on for the nomination. As it turned out, he lasted just one race. If nothing else, DeSantis will go down in political betting folklore as a spectacularly bad early favourite.

Haley trails by double-digits

New Hampshire will therefore be a head-to-head between Trump and Nikki Haley. She has poured everything into this contest but, after a promising run, the polls firmly indicate defeat.

I say 'firmly' because seven of eight polls in the last few days put her double-digits behind Trump. American Research Group have her just 2% down, but we must assume that is an outlier and note this firm had previously recorded her best numbers. The two polls conducted without DeSantis have Trump ahead by 19% and 27%

The interesting betting market here is Trump Vote Share. The upper line here is 60%, trading around 2.56/4. My prediction is the 55-59.99% band.

New Hampshire is tricky to predict

That said, we should also note that massive upsets happen in primaries, including this one. In 2008, Hillary Clinton was 100-1 on the day when overturning Barack Obama. New Hampshire is not an easy electorate to poll, because it hosts an open primary. That means voters can choose to register for one day with a party in order to vote in the primary. It encourages independent voters or even supporters of opposing parties to participate in addition to party members.

For that reason, open primaries are the elections in which we are most likely to see big upsets. In this particular instance, there is a decent theory to suggest this electorate will be more anti-Trump than would otherwise be the case, because Democrat voters have little to get excited about on their own side and may switch.

Biden performance hard to measure

There is a Democratic primary, but it is not sanctioned by the party and for that reason, Betfair are not offering odds. When the Democratic National Committee chose to alter their schedule, depriving New Hampshire of their proud 'first in the nation' status, the state decided to go ahead with it anyway. Therefore this won't count towards the Democrat Nomination and, critically, President Joe Biden is not on the ballot.

Biden is, nevertheless, expected to win. His supporters have organised a 'write-in' campaign and polls show him getting around 60-70% of the vote. However this is extremely difficult to measure and I suspect we are basically guessing the numbers and what represents a good result. How motivated will Democrats be to write-in? How many New Hampshire citizens will vote against just in protest against the state's downgrading on the primary schedule?

In a weird twist, it is possible the bigger talking point coming out of these races involves the Democrat ticket. If Haley loses big, she may very well concede the race to Trump, rather than suffer greater humiliation in the state where she was formerly Governor, South Carolina. Whereas were Biden to score say less than 60%, speculation could mount about his viability.

Don't overestimate Dean Phillips

None of Biden's opponents on the ballot are serious contenders. Little-known Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips has been spending big sums spamming the New Hampshire airwaves. His declared mission is to force Biden out of the race.

Phillips is trading at just 55.054/1 for the Presidency in what can only be declared a terrible bet. Even were he to be relatively successful and receive 25% plus, it wouldn't make him a viable candidate. Democrats are rightly cynical about Phillips' motives - he is bankrolled by Republican donors.

At absolute best, Phillips destabilises Biden and at some stage later, an alternative heavyweight candidate takes the nomination. But, like the non-Trump Republicans, tomorrow will likely be his last day in the limelight.

Assuming, these favourites land easily, what comes next? The nominations will not be finalised until the party conventions in July and August, so speculation may persist about Trump and Biden. As it stands, they are available to back at 1.081/12 and 1.251/4 respectively. The former may be a convicted felon by the time that comes around.

The most open and exciting election market right now involves (presumably) Trump's choice of running mate. The favourites for Republican Vice Presidential Nominee are trading above 4-1 and new candidates are rising into contention almost every day. I will update shortly!

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

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