US Politics

US Election: Polls defy Trump's comeback narrative but will the market react?

Donald Trump
What is holding Trump's odds up?

"Most significantly, the state that has seen the worst violence in recent days shows no sign of turning towards Trump...Nor is there any evidence of his 'Law and Order' messaging cutting through."

Prediction markets and the Betfair odds imply a convention bounce for Trump and a tightening race but the polls continue to defy that narrative. Paul Krishnamurty tries to unravel what is going on...

Unofficially and metaphorically, the starting pistol for the closing, intense stretch of the general election campaign is fired following the Labor Day holiday weekend. According to the signals coming from Betfair markets, Joe Biden and Donald Trump head into it with virtually equal chances. You can see all the latest from the key swing states on our carousel.

Betting virtually tied ahead of Labor Day

Indeed at one point yesterday, the odds implied a perfect 50/50 split. Biden later edged marginally ahead and remains the slight favourite. As I write he is rated 50% for the win, compared to 49% for Trump. For the very latest odds, check out the Betfair Swing-o-Meter on the US election homepage.

This in spite of the assumed reasons behind Trump's extraordinary betting surge disintegrating yesterday. He has not enjoyed a significant post-convention bounce in the polls to mirror his advance in the betting. Far from it.

There had been some confusion, due to a dearth of high-quality live interview polls during the second half of August. So when the likes of Emerson, or less plausibly Rasmussen or Trafalgar, published positive numbers for Trump, they had a greater impact than usual on the news cycle.

Latest polls make grim reading for Trump

No longer. A vast array of new surveys arrived yesterday and they were almost all bad news for Trump. Here are the latest national numbers, along with the Fivethirtyeight rating for each pollster.

CNN (B+): BIDEN +8

Of course the presidency won't be decided by the popular vote and it is quite possible that Trump could lose by 4% or so and still prevail in the electoral college. To that end, however, the numbers from individual states are similarly grim.

No Wisconsin boost for Trump despite violence

Most significantly, the state that has seen the worst violence in recent days shows no sign of turning towards Trump. On the day the President made his controversial visit to Wisconsin, respective surveys from Fox News (A-) and Morning Consult (B/C) recorded Biden 8% and 10%. Nor is there any evidence of his 'Law and Order' messaging cutting through.

For my money, the worst news for Trump came late in the day with this trio of polls from his favourite TV news network. Note that Biden could theoretically win the electoral college WITHOUT any of these three marginal states.

Michigan is an easier target than any of those three and, depending how one ranks them, perhaps also Pennsylvania. I wouldn't assume that though, as the only relative good news in yesterday's polls for Trump came in PA, where Monmouth (A+) record him just 4% behind.

Nevertheless, there is no way of spinning these new numbers as anything other than bad for Trump. That late slew of polls from Fox News prompted yet more head-scratching from the doyens of the polling industry regarding the sanity of betting markets.

Regardless of Silver's tetchiness of late, he isn't wrong. This is a bizarre, unprecedented situation. Polls used to move betting markets. Perhaps they will today. This news emerged late and may not have yet been fully received.

I'm sceptical it will. On the evidence from August, it won't make any difference. At this stage, it seems Trump backers are immune to poll news. The narrative that they are all fake has set in. That the experts who were wrong about Clinton in 2016 will be so again.

Needless to say, I disagree and over the next nine weeks, will frequently address those specific comparisons.


To mark the launch of the Betfair swing-o-meter, we headed up to Washington (no, not that one). Check out our video...


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


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