The following piece was published on Thursday, before the latest e-mail drama. The odds have moved considerably since against Clinton, but the general argument still applies.
With less than a fortnight until polling day, the verdict from various prediction models and Betfair markets is unanimous. Hillary Clinton is overwhelmingly likely to become the Next President. On our main market, the former First Lady is rated 82% likely at 1.22, compared to 18% for Donald Trump at 5.6.
That may sound one-sided but, compared to some of these other models, Betfair punters are actually less dismissive of Trump. The NYT/Upshot projection, for example, rates her chances at 91%. Fivethirtyeight forecasts range between 83% and 85%.
A key difference is that, whereas those models are based on rigid dissemination of current polls, betting markets involve speculating about future trajectory and outcomes. That explains why when Trump peaked in the polls before the first debate, these models either narrowed dramatically or even switched around, while the Betfair market remained strongly pro-Clinton. Bettors were taking a punt that momentum would reverse.
Right now, layers at 1.23 are speculating that the odds might move away from Clinton, therefore creating a trading opportunity. I’m not convinced. Unless the polls have been systemically wrong from the start, her lead is bombproof and, given the balance of the electoral college, a Trump victory feels almost unimaginable.