US Election Odds: Six trading tips for the biggest ever night of live political betting

Trump and Biden supporters
Both sides of this market will be glued to the TV coverage

It is estimated at least £100m will be traded on Betfair Exchange after polls close. Paul Krishnamurty runs through the key facts and strategies to help you trade in-running...

"The plan is to break down numbers from specific counties or districts, then compare to 2016...There is a particular area of Florida known as the ‘I-4 Corridor’ which is famous for determining elections."

1: Ignore the noise

The Golden Rule for elections everywhere and on US election nights, hard numbers come at you faster than ever.

A lot of people lose their minds amid the noise and we must keep ours. Social media will be full of blind optimism, doom-mongering or straight-up disinformation. There will be plenty of that in the mainstream too. I'm not interested in rumours. Focus on them and the true picture will become clear.

2: Play these electoral college markets

The Next President market is already like nothing else ever seen in the betting industry. Over £300m matched and potentially on course for £500m by close. In 2016, 37% of the total matched came after the polls had closed and the market turned live. Expect carnage!

Obviously, play this market. It is where you'll get a lumpy bet matched instantly. In 2016, Clinton went down to 1.081/12 early doors. When the race started to turn, the fluctuations were unbelievable - back and forth by 5-10% every minute. Easy pickings for the short-term, in-and-out trader. If you've got the stomach for that game, go for it.

However the very best opportunities may lie in the Biden or Trump Electoral College Votes market, or the six handicap lines that reflect the margin of victory.

Why? Because this is where knowledge, information, ability to do quick maths, really pays off. If you can read what is happening in half a dozen states simultaneously, then calculate the implications for the electoral college, you'll do very well.

For weeks, I've been flagging up this for an opening in-play trade. Back Biden for the 330-359 and 390-419 bands at 6.25/1 and 8.88/1 respectively.

This is based on my prediction of the result. A large number of permutations end up in one of those bands and I expect, once we have some clear signals from around 2.30am, the odds in one of them will go really short.

However if you take a different view and think either Trump will win, or it will be close, my advice is to follow the same strategy on the 240-269 and 270-299 bands at 6.611/2 and 9.417/2. Again, this covers numerous permutations. These markets are not as wide-open as may first appear.

3: Don't over-react to early statewide numbers

There is nothing more exciting in political betting than live American scoreboards. CNN will display these throughout, updating district by district.

It is important to remember these results aren't declared evenly. Some states declare early votes first, but others wait until the next day. Smaller, rural counties tend to declare long before the more populous urban areas. This can lead to misleading early advantages to one side and market over-reactions. Instead, we need to go deeper and weigh results from individual counties. You can follow my analysis of these numbers throughout the night on Twitter.

4: Four early states to provide big clues

Polls begin to close from midnight and we will have some good clues from 1am. Georgia is among the first batch so follow that state closely. If Biden wins it, he'll be president - take that to the bank.

Also straight out of the blocks is Virginia. This isn't a swing state but comparing the margins with 2016 will provide very useful clues. In 2016, it was Clinton's under-par numbers here that provided the first real clue of trouble ahead.

At 12.30am, North Carolina and Ohio close. Both are among Biden's realistic targets but I'll be placing greater focus on the former. NC count their early votes quickly so could provide a huge signal. As with Georgia, win this and Biden is cruising to victory.

At 1am, Pennsylvania and Florida. The former is the race in a nutshell. Trump is extremely unlikely to win without it. However it will take days to count there so, whilst listening out for results, the Sunshine State takes greater prominence. They count early and in my view, will provide massive clues about what is happening nationwide by 2.30am.

5: Prioritise Florida counties

In all of these states, the plan is to break down numbers from specific counties or districts, then compare to 2016. To see if Trump has advanced or regressed. With hindsight, that was the important missed clue last time. He was racking up bigger margins in rural counties than Mitt Romney.

There is a particular area of Florida known as the 'I-4 Corridor' which is famous for determining elections in the state and nationwide. Here are the six relevant counties with their 2016 result.

Seminole: TRUMP +2
Monroe: TRUMP +7
Polk: TRUMP +14
Hillsborough: CLINTON +7
Osceola: CLINTON +25
Orange: CLINTON +25

Top of my list though is Sumter County, which is home to a vast number of seniors. A core part of Trump's base - he won this county by a 69/30 margin.

Polls show a marked swing to Biden among seniors which, if materialising, would ruin Trump's hopes. He'll win the county but if that 38 point advantage falls to say, 25 points, the president is in a world of trouble.

6: Arizona best among the later states

Once the West Coast declares, Arizona is the one to watch. Again, this is both a critical swing state and one with experience in counting quickly. In particular, watch the enormous Maricopa County. Trump beat Clinton by 3% here but the Democrats are eyeing up a big swing in their favour.

It is perfectly possible that we have very strong indicators by then, and the market is effectively signalling a winner. Note that Grant Elliott Morris of Yougov/Economist is predicting we'll know by 5am. He's well worth a follow on Twitter, as are @Redistrict (Dave Wasserman of Cook Political Report) and @NateSilver538.


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

Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open account using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn We'll Refund You £/€20 If the Bet Loses
Bet now

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles

Read past articles