Primaries look very one-sided
Biden polling terribly
Fraud case another nightmare for Trump
Trump edges ahead
He lost the presidency, Senate and House, inspired a violent insurrection, has been judged a rapist and serial fraudster, and been indicted on 91 counts, so far. His preferred candidates flopped miserably at the mid-terms and were blamed for Republican underperformance. Yet Donald Trump remains an irresistible force on betting markets.
Overwhelming favourite to win the Republican Nomination at odds of 1.271/4, implying a 79% probability, Trump has edged ahead of Joe Biden for Election Winner. He is now trading at 2.8615/8 (35%) compared to 3.052/1 (33%).
Despite apparently little appetite among the electorate for a rematch of 2020, between two candidates who will be aged 78 and 82 on election day, it seems extremely likely. Our Nominee Forecast market implies a 60% chance, at odds of 1.654/6.
Primaries becoming damp squibs
Consider the state of the respective primaries. Two Republican debates involving Trump's rivals, made no difference. As it stands, there are no more scheduled and he is running away with this nomination.
On the Democrat side, it is highly unlikely that Biden will be challenged by anyone serious. The never serious Robert F Kennedy Jr. has quit that race to run as an Independent. Time is fast running out for others to file to run in the early states, or critical later ones such as California.
It seems we are heading for the dullest primary season in the history of political betting. These are usually great heats, especially in-running, but as it stands, all will be won very easily by the favourite. What is normally a year long election process, will in fact boil down to around 15 weeks following the conventions.
Bettors still hunting for alternatives
So what, if anything, might change? Betting speculation certainly persists about alternatives. The last three cycles have seen numerous bizarre gambles based on rumours. Perhaps that has something to do with House of Cards spreading awareness of the concept of a 'brokered convention'?
The primaries do not determine the winner, but the party conventions in late summer. There, delegates from states vote for the primary winner in their state, although in theory, the rules could be changed. When Trump became the nominee in 2016, there was a genuine, failed grassroots attempt to do this.
Plus, with over a year until the election, all sorts can happen. Disaster could hit one of the presumptive nominees. Scandal, ill health, death, prison.
Biden age doubts persist
These really are the only legitimate explanations for Biden trading at 1.444/9 for the Democrat Nomination. Given his age, and the nature of propaganda nowadays, such theories aren't going to end with the primaries. Plus he could always stand aside later, if poised to lose.
Nevertheless, his two closest rivals in the betting look terrible value. I can see a case for Gavin Newsom, because the California Governor is evidently building his national profile. A forthcoming debate on Fox News with Ron DeSantis will likely cast him in a favourable light and encourage comparisons with Biden.
But Newsom has already endorsed Biden, so the only realistic route is via the convention. Trading at 20.019/1, Michelle Obama's odds are liberal hopium. She has repeatedly said she will never run.
If the nomination were to open, Kamala Harris would enjoy an enormous advantage. As VP, she has the party machine and there would be little appetite for usurping an African American woman. At 50.049/1, she is worth a trade as at some point, the market will wake up to her being the alternative to Biden.
Fraud case is ruining Trump
Trump's problems are well-documented and harder to predict. By the time of the convention, there is a high chance he will officially be a convict. His business looks ruined by the New York Attorney General's fraud case - which long-term readers may remember from his time as President.
It seems he could be forced to reveal the true ownership of all his projects and subsidiaries. This remains a potential smoking gun. Long before he entered politics, Trump properties were reported to be laundering machines for the Iranian National Guard and Russian mafia. Whilst in office, he was doing business with Chinese state firms and had a secret Chinese bank account.
Whether any of that would deter his supporters is another matter. His vast primary lead suggests these voters don't care and will forgive anything. But according to this SurveyUSA poll asking various imponderables, Trump's supposedly rock-solid base might fracture if convicted.
Biden's polling is terrible given the opponent
For now, though, national polls should terrify Democrats and defenders of democracy, NATO, the post-WW2 international order. Biden's average approval has slipped below 40%, from above 50% at the last election. Head-to-head, he is more or less tied with Trump, including a large number of undecideds. Remember, Biden would likely need to beat Trump by around 4% in the popular vote in order to win the electoral college.
Nevertheless, if they are the final pair, I still make Biden favourite. The more independent voters see Trump and his ever-more deranged and extreme rhetoric, the more they hear details of his indictments and flimsy defences, the more they will be alienated. His threats to not accept the election result were theoretical until January 6th. When his supporters talk of civil war, more people will believe the threat.
Biden also has a more straightforward path in the electoral college. If retaining Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Nevada, he'll almost certainly win. Maybe even just the first two. Georgia and Arizona look trickier, but plausible back-ups. That Trump will go on televised trial in Georgia must be a positive.
I don't see Biden withdrawing at least any time soon, and therefore he has to be the value call at this stage at 3.052/1. This should shorten considerably in the months ahead. However the caveat is that I rate Trump's chance higher than I did at this stage in either 2016 or 2020.
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