Various black women are rising up the Democrat VP betting as punters assume Joe Biden will choose a racially balanced ticket. Paul Krishnamurty updates the state of play...
"The case for Val Demings is impeccable. A working-class black woman, who rose to become Orlando police chief - in the most important swing state of Florida."
A great deal has happened since I last previewed the Democratic VP Nomination market. We can only speculate how events are shaping Joe Biden's thinking but we can measure the market impact.
Klobuchar bid ruined by Floyd murder fallout
Once it was reported that Amy Klobuchar was being vetted, the Minnesota Senator shortened below 4.03/1 behind Kamala Harris. The murder of George Floyd by police officers her state, however, may have put paid to her chances.
She was the formerly the lead prosecutor in the same Hennepin County and didn't charge police involved in other suspect deaths, most notably the man charged with Floyd's murder, Derek Chauvin. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing on her part but the optics are terrible.
Considering she has been shortlisted and vetted, there is a case to be made that her current odds of 25.024/1 are an over-reaction. However there are plenty of other senior roles for Biden to give this close ally.
Biden sure to focus on racial and national unity
The campaign narrative is obvious. Biden is the non-scary, moderate return to normality. The Democrat who can win over disillusioned Republicans. Reunite America after Trumpian division and white supremacy. After Black Lives Matter protests swept the country, picking a woman of colour is now very likely.
That is bad news for the two white women previously tipped - Gretchen Whitmer and Elizabeth Warren - and good news for the favourite, Kamala Harris. The California Senator is now into 2.3811/8 for the nomination.
Harris now firm favourite but not without risk
Harris too has reportedly been vetted, but I remain sceptical. She could just as easily be Biden's Attorney General, soon to be elevated to the Supreme Court. Plus she failed to excite black voters during the primaries - even after clumsily attacking Biden over working with segregationists and opposing school busing during the 1970s.
If I were advising Biden, the priority would be all about negating the effectiveness of Trump's talking points and viral memes. That row with Harris would definitely be used.
So too will any hint of being 'anti-police'. Trump is relentlessly pushing the 'defund the police' hashtag - shamelessly misrepresenting the Democrat position, just as he tried linking them with violent protesters last week. Biden made his position clear yesterday but closing down that line of attack should remain a priority.
Demings is the big market mover
Before the Floyd murder and protests put racial injustice and policing centre stage, I backed a different black woman about whom such accusations will never fly. Check out the thread below.
Her odds have duly collapsed into 6.86/1 but I'm increasingly confident she's the one. Her case is impeccable. A working-class black woman, who rose to become Orlando police chief - in the most important swing state of Florida.
Not only is Biden/Demings the perfect ticket to promote racial unity, but she's also a moderate. Demings was selected by Nancy Pelosi as part of the Democrat impeachment team, prosecuting Trump. Her weakness is lack of experience - thus not fulfilling the 'president in waiting' tag. But no candidate is without weakness.
In her former career, Demings' police force was involved in numerous controversies regarding brutality although the damage doesn't seem to have stuck to her personal brand. If Biden picks her, it will ruin Trump's strategy to paint his opponents as 'radical leftists'.
Georgia women also gaining traction
What about other women of colour? Stacey Abrams has shortened to 13.5. She would excite the base but also lacks experience and would be easier to define as a radical. Plus there was a strong suggestion before these protests that she'd been excluded from calculations.
Also from Georgia, the Mayor of Atlanta Keisha Lance Bottoms has stormed up the betting order. From a peak of 390.0389/1, she has been matched as low as 14.013/1. This is the result of her impressive response to protests. Whether that has elevated her in the VP stakes - from apparently nowhere prior to the riots - remains to be seen.
Michelle Obama remains fairly popular at 20.019/1 but there remains no suggestion that she wants a political career.
Susan Rice could rise further
More plausible is her husband's former National Security Advisor and UN Ambassador Susan Rice. Currently available to back at 25.024/1, she's my idea of the one likeliest to shorten in the betting, having previously been matched at 350.0349/1.
Could it be that punters are dismissing white women too readily? After all, Biden fared really well with black voters during the primaries and they couldn't be better motivated to turnout right now to remove an overtly racist president. Might it not make better sense to shore up the key Mid-West states or progressive wing of the party?
The problem is that, without picking a woman of colour, the Trump campaign will inevitably try to drive a wedge between Biden and African Americans, as they did with Hillary Clinton. Footage of his 'You ain't black' gaffe will saturate social media.
I do still think Whitmer and Warren are on the shortlist. The former has excellent approval ratings in Michigan - demonstrating how well she's fared under attack from the Trump machine over Covid-19. A young female Mid-West Governor remains, in my view, this president's worst nightmare.
The problem with Warren is that picking her would involve temporarily relinquishing a Senate seat until a special election could be run in Massachusetts. Again, there are other prominent jobs that she is perfectly qualified for - Democrat leader in the Senate, for example.