US Election: Are things beginning to turn Biden's way?

US President Joe Biden
Joe Biden has just enjoyed a much better fortnight

Joe Biden's odds for re-election are falling after a good fortnight. Paul Krishnamurty reckons they have plenty further to fall...

  • Democrat nomination looks secure

  • SOTU dispelled cognitive smears

  • Trump can no longer unite Republicans

  • It has been a significant couple of weeks in the US Election. Following Nikki Haley's withdrawal after Super Tuesday, effectively securing the Republican Nomination for Donald Trump, Joe Biden wrapped up the Democratic Nomination.

    Disasters not withstanding, both men will be confirmed at the party conventions this summer.

    According to our Election Winner betting, Trump remains favourite at around even money but Biden has improved his chance from 25% in the wake of the Hur Report into his retention of classified documents - which portrayed him as a kindly, frail old man with a weak memory - to 35% today at odds of 2.8415/8.

    Democrat rivals falling away fast

    The differential can be explained by alternative Democrats falling back. Michelle Obama's odds have doubled to 26.025/1. Likewise Gavin Newsom is out to 38.037/1, Kamala Harris to 50.049/1. One must assume bettors thought Biden would struggle in the primary, forcing a rethink. Evidently, that hasn't happened and isn't yet. Even 1.182/11 for the nomination looks generous.

    That good news, however, has not been replicated in polls. Biden's approval rating remains terribly low at 38.4%. National polls for the general election remain roughly tied.

    Trump still faring better than past elections

    I must reiterate how bad these numbers are by comparison to the last two elections. In both, Trump trailed badly, consistently, with opposition to him appearing entrenched. The daily controversy and excesses made the Democrats' task easier. Yet he still managed to win in 2016 and outperform the polls in 2020.

    Time has been something of a healer, with some voters remembering the economy better than it actually was, or not rewarding Biden's good economic numbers. His approval is down by almost a third on the 2020 peak. Reuniting the coalition of anti-Trumpers that earned 81M votes looks a very tall order.

    Nevertheless, I do not believe all is lost. In fact, I have a feeling we will look back on this period as the worst time for Biden. That things could be turning his way, or about to.

    Hur testimony undermined his own report

    Special Counsel Robert Hur testified before Congress last week and it was very clear that his report was hardly the bombshell initially trailed. The transcript did not match the briefing and hype. After decades of frequent investigations, US voters will be weary of such reports and this looked very much a partisan hatchet job by a Trump-appointed judge. Hur even said at one point that Biden had a photographic memory.

    Moreover, Biden's performance at the State of the Union went a long way to dispel claims of cognitive decline. He emerged triumphant while the Republican's official responder Katie Britt swiftly became embroiled in controversy over her blatant 'post-truth' in trying to associate Biden with Mexican cartels sex-trafficking during the Bush administration.

    He has another big date tonight, at the annual Washington Gridiron Dinner. This event is for journalists and D.C. types. A stage to tell jokes at your opponents and own expense. To show you are a good sport. I expect a Washington veteran like Biden will breeze it, and the jokes about Trump will be cutting. Expect plenty of reference to his opponent's cognitive decline.

    Back Joe Biden @ 2.8415/8

    Bet now

    Trump's coalition is fractured

    Furthermore Trump's problems are coming to the fore, and they are significant. As effectively the incumbent, his primary win was not so impressive. Nikki Haley won a large share, many of whom are committed to not voting for Trump. Her lack of endorsement is a major blow, as indeed is the opposition from most senior members of his administration.

    Especially Mike Pence, who publicly came out yesterday against Trump. I am pretty certain this is without precedent. A former VP refusing to back their boss. The Republican coalition is also fraying, perhaps to worse effect.

    Biden has been written off many times during his long career. Most recently in the 2020 primary. That victory was followed by Kremlin-backed smears about Tara Reade (now a Russia Today employee). That nonsense swamped the Internet but turned out to be a nothing-burger. Four years of noise about Hunter Biden - not even a US government employee - has resulted in the 'whistleblower' being charged with lying to the FBI, which he blames on Russian intelligence. Biden's opponents aren't so smart.

    There is a long way to go in this election and Biden's task remains very difficult. It does however look a two-horse race between him and an extremely damaged Trump. If so, I'm confident we won't see odds of 2.8415/8 about the incumbent after the conventions and he may even be trading as favourite. Take those odds now and, if you're still worried that an 81 year-old might not make the general election, back Harris at 50.049/1 too. If he isn't the candidate, she will be, as explained when tipping her earlier at 85.084/1

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

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Tuesday 5 November, 11.00am

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