Are Vegas Odds Still Better Indicators Than Polling Numbers?

joe biden on the debate stage scratching his head in uncertainty

For years, election odds have been viewed – at least by the betting contingent – as a more accurate representation of electoral and political reality than biased, loaded, and selective polling data.

But in the age of Trump, who proved in 2016 that polls were well and truly worthless as a metric of public approval or disapproval, the betting lines might now be facing the same reality (or lack thereof).

On its face, the argument is simple: When US residents wager on Vegas election odds, they’re not just giving a pollster an answer about who or what they support, they’re actually putting money on it.

And because sites like Bovada and MyBookie (among others) all require proof of age, identity, and residency, these bettors are largely eligible voters in the US. They’re putting their money on the line for the outcome they think will occur, not the outcome they hope will occur.

This is logical.

But we’re living in wildly illogical times, where lawless, pro-secession sections of cities can be barricaded with the blessing and assistance of elected public officials, where a statue of Abraham Lincoln freeing slaves (the construction of which was funded by those same freed slaves) is criticized as racist and petitioned for removal, where tens of thousands of protesters and rioters are given a coronavirus pass while a Presidential rally is deemed a dangerous “super spreader” of the disease:

Now, that illogic might be creeping onto the odds boards themselves, putting some bettors’ money at greater risk.

Today, the Joe Biden Vegas odds are through the roof. Over the last day, Trump lost another five points to Creepy Joe at Bovada, America’s highest-volume sportsbook for political betting.

This is in line with the polling that shows Biden well out in front of Trump, often by double digits for individual state elections and the 2020 Presidential election itself.

2020 US Presidential Election Winner

Via Bovada

  • Joe Biden -120
  • Donald Trump +105
  • Hillary Clinton +5000
  • Mike Pence +5500
  • Andrew Cuomo +8000
  • Michelle Obama +8000
  • Nikki Haley +12500 

For Biden bettors, the value on wagers placed right now is among the worst you’ll find, given his favorite status. That’s even more evident at BetOnline, where Biden is trending at -140 to Trump’s +110.

For those looking to cash in on Trump odds, on the other hand, now’s the time to pounce, as this is the best payout you’re likely to find between now and November, particularly as people begin to get protest fatigue the same way they eventually got COVID fatigue.

And don’t take our word for it. Democrat officials across the board are sounding the alarm about the recent polling – which is apparently driving the recent betting – in Biden’s favor.

Per Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), the polls are not to be believed.

“Some people say, ‘Oh, look at the numbers.’ I don’t believe these numbers. And look at what’s happened in five months. The world is upside down and not one of us on this phone call would have predicted that the world will be as it is today. And it is five months from now until November.

Four years ago, many of you on this phone call thought that I was nuts. I was in enough communities and heard enough people talking that I was very worried about the outcome of that election.”

Embattled Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer – who has taken a dive on the VP odds boards at Bovada, where she dropped from about +700 to +5000 (and is off BetOnline’s boards entirely) due to her recall petition in MI – echoes Dingell’s concerns:

“We can do this. And I believe we are going to be successful but we cannot for one second let our guard down. We cannot for one second make an assumption that Michigan is going to go with Joe Biden. …

We don’t want people to get complacent or for people to think showing up in Michigan doesn’t matter. I know Joe Biden gets it. I know he’ll be here.”

Naturally, it’s far too soon to feel confident about which candidate will win in November, and with a million different potential flashpoints for scandals and crises that haven’t erupted yet, any given day could shake up betting lines and political props across the Internet.

Still, as has been the case for the last few weeks, our advice is twofold.

One: Bet with your head, not your heart. This is true for all betting, from politics to entertainment to sports and beyond.

Two: If you think Biden will win this thing, wait until the Presidential debates. You will see massive swings there, and it is likely that Biden’s odds will drop after those events. Conversely, if you’ve got Trump in 2020, you need to bet on him at legal online sportsbooks right now, because his payouts are probably the best they’re going to be.

Good luck, and stay safe out there!