As a gambler, one must always be mindful of talking up your own position. Of becoming too convinced by your own opinion that you can’t see the wood for the trees.
I’ve been wrestling with this position for months, regarding the unprecedented, bizarre and increasingly ridiculous candidacy of Donald Trump.
My longstanding opposition to Trump is not based on politics – no serious gambler can let politics affect their judgement. Rather, it’s about basic credibility, competence and electability. It has been clear for several years that the Republican base were sick of the Washington establishment and wanted an outsider. Yet in Ted Cruz, they had a far more authentic and serious outsider, who actually knew how to ‘do’ politics.
When Cruz dropped out of the race, I still felt it was worth taking a punt at massive odds that he would be blocked at the convention, via the Rules Committee changing the criteria. It didn’t come off but, less than a month on, it is crystal clear that they should have freed the delegates, allowing them to vote their conscience.
At 18%, Trump is not only the biggest outsider ever at this stage of a presidential race, but given a smaller chance than he was after Super Tuesday, when still well short of the required delegates. Yesterday, Trump’s campaign hit a new low by mooting the idea that Hillary Clinton might be assassinated.
Never mind any attempt to ‘reset’ his campaign, to talk about economic policy and tax plans. This is now the biggest story in town, set to dominate the news cycle in the same way attacks on a Gold Star family, Judge Curiel and Heidi Cruz did.
The number of Republicans prepared to defend their nominee – already historically small – is dwindling further. Unlike the failed convention coup, this isn’t just the #NeverTrump movement. See this from Joe Scarborough of ‘Morning Joe’ fame. During the primaries, he was closer to Trump than most and even mooted as a potential running mate.
The GOP must dump Trump – The Washington Post https://t.co/S0gty0xvTh
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) August 10, 2016
Could it happen? Well, the process of actually replacing him is fraught with complexity and legal hurdles in each state. He could of course withdraw, although that remains a longshot. Likelier, however, than enormous odds about potential replacements suggests.
There is an active #RecallTrump movement, who argue they have found a legal basis to dump the candidate. Expect their numbers to grow in the aftermath of his latest comments – which past form suggests he’ll double down on, raising their newsworthiness.
As with the nomination, Paul Ryan is rated by far the likeliest alternative at around [80.0]. John Kasich has come into 380.0 – thus rekindling a little excitement about this position taken at 240.0 before the primaries.
Much more obvious is his running mate. Mike Pence is finding himself at odds with Trump on an almost daily basis and, with his name already on the ballot, is surely the natural alternative. I was amazed to see him trading at 1000.0 for the presidency this morning before the odds fell.
After his assassination comments & yet more dire polls, the remote chance of #NeverTrump must be rising. I've backed Mike Pence at 1000.
— Political Gambler (@paulmotty) August 10, 2016
At 690.0, he’s still well worth a speculative trade. Remember, Ryan was backed down to 14 for the nomination when the idea of a coup first took hold.
If not Pence, then I like Scott Walker at 1000. It was reported post-convention that one of the plans put forward by plotters was for Ted Cruz to endorse Walker. In my view, he is the one they should have put forward as a unity candidate months ago.
If speculation does grow and the market reacts, also expect to see bits of money for Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and Cruz – the three heavyweights who have consistently called out and refused to support Trump.
As with those pre-convention bets, I’m not going to add any of these longshot bets to the published portfolio because liquidity at these prices is small and I can’t guarantee followers will get on at anywhere near the recommended odds.