The Democratic candidate Doug Jones upset the odds overnight to win the Alabama "special election" for the senate, as he defeated the controversial Republican Roy Moore. What does this mean for Donald Trump's presidency and how have bettors reacted? Max Liu reports.
"The result is terrible for Republicans as they plan for the mid-term elections in November 2018. This morning, they've drifted to [2.26] to hold on to their majority in the senate."
American politics has been rocked by the shock result of the Alabama "special election", as Doug Jones became the first Democrat to win a senate seat in the state for a quarter-of-a-century. The Democrats traded at [4.0] on polling day, with Betting.Betfair's Paul Krishnamurty recommending a bet on them at those odds, before Jones defeated controversial Republican candidate Roy Moore.
The result of the special election, which took place because Jeff Sessions vacated the seat to become attorney general earlier this year, means the Republicans' majority in the senate has been reduced to 51-49, so it will be more difficult for President Donald Trump to bring his policies into legislation.
Trump endorsed Moore even though other Republicans opposed his candidacy due to his ultra-conservative views on subjects such as homosexuality and allegations of sexual abuse against underage girls which surfaced during the campaign.
Moore received strong backing from Steve Bannon and symbolised the alt-right's takeover of the Republican Party. Former-presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Alabama's senior senator Richard Shelby and other prominent Republicans argued that Moore should not be allowed to stand for the senate. They will feel vindicated and emboldened by the result and the GOP is likely to be increasingly divided from hereon.
That's bad news for Republicans as they plan for the mid-term elections in November 2018. This morning, they've drifted to [2.26] to hold on to their majority in the senate. At [3.65], the Democrats look a much better bet to gain control than they did 24 hours ago.
Meanwhile, in the House of Congress, the Democrats are [1.67] to win a majority. Expect plenty of market movement over the coming hours and days.
A referendum on Trump's first year?
Alabama is one of the most loyally-Republican states and, in November 2016, 62% of voters there backed Trump. Moore's defeat is a catastrophic end to Trump's turbulent first year in the White House. Trump is [1.96] to fail to see out his full first term and it's tempting to interpret this result as an indictment of his performance so far.
Alabama conservatism is notorious in American history, as it was where civil rights activists met their most brutal opposition in the 1960s. In fact, 63-year-old Jones takes up his seat in the senate after a long and distinguished career as a lawyer during which he helped convict two Ku Klux Klan members who bombed a black church in 1963, killing four girls.
At the time of writing, Moore still hasn't conceded the election but Trump has congratulated Jones, in a notably magnanimous tweet which praised the people of Alabama. Clearly, Trump believes the Republicans can win back the seat when it comes up for election again in 2020.
Democrats' momentum starting to surge?
For the Democrats, this victory builds on the two governor elections which the party's candidates won in Virginia and New Jersey last month. Some Democrats are optimistic that resistance to Trump is starting to solidify at the ballot box.
The result in Alabama, where it appears that black and Latino voters, as well as educated suburban voters, made the difference for Jones, shows that getting out the vote and fighting voter suppression will be key to the Democrats' chances of ousting Trump in 2020. At present, the Democrats are [1.85] to be the winning party in 2020's presidential election, with the likes of Kamala Harris [6.2], Elizabeth Warren [6.4] and Joe Biden [7.0] jostling at the top of the nominees' market.
However, politics remains unpredictable, to say the least, and it's difficult to know what Trump's core are thinking, especially when the Republican defeat in Alabama can be put down to the unsuitability of their candidate.
But make no mistake, the result is a blow for Trump, in terms of giving the Democrats momentum to build towards the mid-terms, and because it could make passing bills through the senate trickier.
Trump odds-on to visit UK in 2018
Lower down than the midterms on the President's list of priorities for 2018, one suspects, is his proposed state visit to the UK.
On Betfair Sportsbook, Trump is 4/6 to visit these shores next year.
You can get 20/1 on the Queen refusing to host the president and an appealing 16/1 on more protestors turning out in London to greet Trump than supporters did for his inauguration in January.