We are fast learning to expect the unconventional and unpredictable in politics, but it’s hard to remember any trickier market to play than this cycle’s Republican Vice Presidential Nominee. Quite simply, as with everything else about Donald Trump, normal rules need not apply.
Normally, we would expect the presumptive nominee to pursue a balanced ticket, to try and negate electoral weaknesses. In Trump’s case, that could be a woman, a Latino, somebody who could expand the GOP’s voter base. Normally we would expect almost anyone offered the position to take it. Neither applies this time.
Trump is the most unconventional, divisive candidate ever and anyone who claims to know his mind are lying. At best, we can make an educated guess. Many obvious candidates would not, in my view, take it. A likely heavy defeat, tied to a candidate whom half of Republicans don’t even want as nominee, could be terminal for careers.
Nevertheless, I now have a number of positions. Initially, I opposed John Kasich and Ben Carson. Then three weeks ago I advised this bet on Chris Christie at 17.
New #Election2016 bet: Backed Chris Christie to be Republican VP candidate 4 units @ 16/1 with Paddy Power or Ladbrokes. See following tweet
— Political Gambler (@paulmotty) June 7, 2016
Most recently I added a new bet on Mike Pence, Governor of Indiana.
New bet on Republican VP: 3 units Mike Pence @ 33/1. Reportedly in the running & several poor value bets near top of the market.
— Political Gambler (@paulmotty) June 30, 2016
Kasich remains inexplicably strong in the market. Nothing has happened to alter my view that he won’t be the pick, and I couldn’t resist laying a further 8 units at 5.5 at the weekend. His market status is reminiscent of Mitt Romney in 2008, when he was a very short-priced favourite for little more reason than being one John McCain’s defeated rivals.
New Republican VP bet: Laid (opposed) another 8 units of John Kasich at 5.5. Updated piece out very soon.
— Political Gambler (@paulmotty) July 4, 2016
For more logical reasons, Gingrich and Christie remain popular. Both are heavyweights, clearly on board and therefore shortlist material. They would surely both take the job, but there are plenty of other roles they could play.
Gingrich brings badly needed Washington expertise but would be a weird pick – adding baggage while doing little to balance Trump’s electoral weaknesses. Then again, Trump doesn’t do conventional electoral strategy.
Jeff Sessions, another probably on the shortlist, is drifting at 7.0, having earlier snatched favouritism from Gingrich. Sessions wouldn’t surprise me, given the enthusiasm with which Trump sought his endorsement during the primaries. It is hard to see the electoral value, though, as Sessions supporters are likely solid Trump supporters anyway.
Given the wide-open nature of this guessing game, I’d rather take a punt at big odds on plausible characters who could at least be gambled down over the next fortnight. That’s why I went for Pence, who has been mentioned numerous times in the past month and has already come in to 12.0.
There’s a whole range of similarly priced runners who keep popping up in VP chatter. Bob Corker, John Thune, Scott Brown, Mary Fallin, Tom Cotton. She isn’t being mentioned much, but I’ve felt throughout that his best bet would be Joni Ernst. It is worth remembering that all of these names are largely informed guesses, and it would not be a total shock were the candidate to be somebody not yet listed on betting markets.
At some stage I may lay these positions on Christie and Pence back, or add some new trades. However as anybody trying to get a sizeable bet on these VP markets will know, stakes are often heavily restricted. As always, I’ll announce them on Twitter.
Updated Republican VP Profit/Loss:
John Kasich: – 75 units
Ben Carson: -35 units
Chris Christie: +85 units
Mike Pence: +119 units
Others: +17 units