No matter what happens from now to November, one thing seems clear: There are no good betting strategies for the Presidential election.
There is no reliable data from which to draw a conclusion, there are no mainstream narratives that inspire confidence one way or the other, and there’s no telling what election rules – or lack of rules – will be deployed for the general due to the 1619 Riots or the coronavirus lockdowns.
For every point, there is a counterpoint. For every angle, there is an opposing angle.
Worse, the Vegas Presidential election odds – once the gold standard for political prognostication – are no more of a reputable indicator of this election’s outcome than the infamously untrustworthy national polls.
Even in an argument framing the election as Capitalism vs. Communism, there is no telling how many greenbacks and redshirts there are in the country.
Exhibit A: Polling Data
If you go by the polls and prediction markets, you’ll see that the 2020 Presidential election is Joe Biden’s to lose.
At 270ToWin – one of several sites that famously had Hillary Clinton as a landslide favorite in 2016 – Biden is currently leading by a presumed electoral vote of 334-204, putting the GOP 66 votes out of the running.
Of course, using other polling metrics, incumbent Donald Trump is primed to win by about the same margin he did in 2016, or perhaps even a bit more.
While polls are historically unreliable – and are likely more unreliable than ever due to open oversampling of Democrat voters for 2020 (as well as the perennial lying respondent, who might be more motivated than ever to derail the enemy, whomever that enemy happens to be) – bettors seem to be using them almost exclusively to make their wagers.
Of course, there are also reports that while the whales are picking Creepy Joe, the small bets are coming in en masse for Donald Trump.
Per one analyst, Trump is currently receiving about 71% of the wagers at all the major online election betting sites.
Exhibit B: Betting Lines
2020 election betting lines are stagnant.
In a nation that is literally boiling over with multiple movements and contingencies that, individually, would indelibly shape any previous election, the lines have settled at about a 100-point advantage for Biden, and they’ve remained there regardless of the news of the day:
- Joe Biden -165
- Donald Trump +145
- Joe Biden -180
- Donald Trump +150
- Joe Biden -170
- Donald Trump +100
The above odds have stayed in this neighborhood for the last month or more.
Stories that one might expect to move the needle one way or another – like Minneapolis residents forming armed militias to fight the riots and protests in the city, the endless violence in Portland, and federal police being deployed to deal with surging crime rates in Chicago – have done nothing of the sort.
Trump, for his part, promotes law and order, while Biden supports the riots (or, at least, doesn’t denounce them). That should be in The Donald’s favor. But the media counterpoint is that Trump supports an overbearing police presence, while Biden can claim that the riots are simply peaceful, democratic protests.
Exhibit C: New Election Rules
Another thing that could affect the 2020 election – and another thing that leaves pundits, analysts, and bettors in an endless limbo – is whether or not the rules will be markedly changed for November.
Vote by mail – long considered a questionable practice when deployed universally (due to past evidence of ballot harvesting and the reality that there is no traceable chain of custody for votes collected and delivered by partisan campaign volunteers in communities across the country) – could be used in most states.
Depending on the narrative you believe, this will either help the Democrats or help the Republicans. Because the left supports vote by mail and the GOP opposes it, the common calculus is that such voting rules would give the former group the edge.
Should enough swing states enact COVID-based vote by mail for the November general, that could change the election outcome all on its own.
Whether or not some, most, or all states will allow this remains to be seen, and it’s an important variable for all political bettors to understand.
Exhibit D: Biden’s VP
One of the more popular Vegas political props for 2020 has been the Biden Vice Presidential pick.
Biden initially promised to select a female VP candidate, and then he indicated that said female would also be a woman of color.
While black women still dominate the VP election odds, rumors abound that the Democrats now believe Biden’s pick won’t harm him should he not choose a woman of color.
Elizabeth Warren has recently been reported as a finalist for the position, as has Tammy Duckworth. However, according to some outlets, the pick is actually down to Duckworth and little-known CA politician Karen Bass.
Last week, Bass wasn’t on any betting boards at the most popular sites, and today she’s trending in third at Bovada with +750 odds, ahead of both Duckworth (+850) and our pick, FL congresswoman Val Demings (+1000).
2020 Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee
- Kamala Harris +135
- Susan Rice +275
- Karen Bass +750
- Tammy Duckworth +850
- Val Demings +1000
- Elizabeth Warren +1300
- Michelle Obama +2500
- Keisha Lance Bottoms +5000
- Michelle Lujan Grisham +6600
- Gretchen Whitmer +10000
- Hillary Clinton +10000
- Stacey Abrams +10000
- Tammy Baldwin +15000
- Andrew Cuomo +20000
- Catherine Cortez Masto +20000
- Tulsi Gabbard +20000
Exhibit F: Capitalism vs. Communism
This is where the rubber hits the road. Or, at least, where it should – in more predictable times.
Ideologically, this election is split like no American election before.
Joe Biden, in the primary, was favored by the DNC for his middle-of-the-road status. He was a traditional Democrat “moderate.” It’s why, for the second election in a row, radical socialist Bernie Sanders had his legs cut out from under him by his own party.
But between COVID-19 and the 1619 Riots, the party’s direction has embraced the radical, and Biden has adopted a sort of Frankenstein mashup of the Sanders-Warren-AOC platforms.
Framed against history, Biden’s new policies echo Soviet Bolshevism, and they are at distinct odds with American tradition, which Trump represents (or offers some reasonable facsimile thereof).
In past races, Biden would be considered the worst Democratic candidate in history. His policies simply buck the status quo that much.
However, this time around, those initiatives might have support.
With 40 million Americans out of work, with kids missing a year of school (or more), and with people turning down jobs en masse to collect stimulus checks, a large voting bloc may have already been bought…or forced into submission.
Indeed, just as many people seem to be enjoying the shutdowns as seem to be opposing them. Exactly how powerful will Trump’s “Reopen America” or “Back To Work” campaign be in the states that matter?
We made good money betting on Trump in 2016.
This time around, the results seem much less obvious.
And not just for the election, either.