Four years ago, at this stage of the 2012 presidential cycle, there was a stark difference between clear betting market signals and a commentariat loathe to jump off the fence. Whereas pundits were saying en masse that the race was ‘too close to call’, Betfair punters consistently made Barack Obama the odds-on favourite to beat Mitt Romney, progressively so after the conventions.
One of the reasons for that difference was surely an understanding of the electoral system. Each state’s vote translates into a pre-determined number of electors based on population and congressional districts, that count towards the electoral college. In total, there are 538 electors up for grabs, making 270 the winning target. For full, up to the minute projections, check out RealClearPolitics map, based on an aggregate of state polls
As I reported even before the 2012 conventions, the map spelt trouble for Romney, who was trailing pretty much everywhere it mattered. Not a great deal changed between June and November, and Obama ended up winning a landslide with 332 electoral college votes.
While 2012 is a race that Republicans want to forget, they would swap Romney’s post-convention position for that of Donald Trump in an instant. Not only are his national ratings dire but Trump is performing catastrophically in the swing states.
Indeed Hillary Clinton is a much stronger favourite than Obama – the shortest odds of any at this stage since the inception of Betfair – yet on reading the electoral map, is probably a good value bet even at 1.28, which equates to a 78% likelihood. She has already been matched down to 1.85 (54%) to win 360 or more Electoral College Votes – at least 28 more than Obama.