This piece first appeared at gamblerspick.com on 22nd July 2020
Polling signals, whether at national or state level, continue to point strongly towards a landslide victory for Joe Biden. The former VP’s best available odds have shrunk to 1.62 (Betfair). As explained last time, his lead over Donald Trump is considerably larger than that enjoyed by Hillary Clinton and the dynamics are very different to 2016.
Hundreds of different markets available
The Next President markets by far the most liquid but merely one among hundreds of betting opportunities. New ones emerge almost daily, whether side markets on the main event or the vast array of Congressional races.
Also on November 3rd, there is the nationwide race for control of the House of Representatives and 435 Congressional districts, plus 33 Senate races. Going in, Democrats control the former with 235-199 seats, while Republicans lead the Senate by 53-47 seats. Betting is available on all bar the less competitive House districts.
Whilst each of these races is a stand-alone event, voting trends are closely related to the wider political argument. The USA was already a deeply polarised country, with ever fewer persuadable swing voters, before Trump came along. Under his presidency, that polarisation has become entrenched.
I do not, therefore, expect a dramatic change in the polls. The past week has seen Biden ahead by 15% in two A-rated polls, achieving a peak of 55%. 15% is probably an outlier – the average is 8.6% – but that is a plausible vote share.
A consistent majority oppose Trump
On the question of this election – a referendum on Trump – I reckon this polarised electorate splits 55-45 against. Numerous polls – including at times when he was faring better nationally – showed around this figure committed to voting against him and even, during the impeachment process, to be removed from office.
Trump is currently polling well below 45% – only hitting that mark once in over 40 polls since mid-May, averaging 41%. I suspect there is a ‘shy Trump voter’ effect in play here but such consistency, and historically high strong disapprovals, suggests a double-digit victory is realistic for Biden. My current prediction is 54-44.
If so, the current favourites in Betfair’s Vote Percentage markets would win – Biden is 3.2 to get 52-54.99%, Trump is 3.0 to get 43-45.99%. On value grounds, I prefer [8.0] about Biden landing in the 55.0-57.99% band. It is quite possible things get worse for Trump under the campaign spotlight.
Democrats to benefit from higher turnout
The Trump era has engaged and energised voters on both sides of the argument like never before. At the mid-term elections, turnout was 50%. In the two previous mid-terms, 2014 and 2010, turnout was only 40 and 36%.
My view is that trend helps Democrats because turnout is a historic weakness for the left, in large part because they rely upon electoral segments that are less likely to be registered – young and minority voters, for example. Lower turnout among Dem-leaning groups are the core reason that Hillary Clinton lost.
The much improved turnout in 2018 worked wonders for them, yielding their best result since the 1970s. They won by 8.6%, in line with polling predictions. Generic ballot polls have barely moved since – the RCP current average has them ahead by 8.5%. They lost the House to Republicans by 1% on the day of Trump’s election.
Back Democrats to gain control of the Senate
That so-called ‘Blue Wave’ did not translate into Senate gains, though, because the tranche of seats in play were disproportionately in strong Republican states. That does not apply to this year’s map and if these national trends do hold up in November, Trump will take his party down with him.