So after all that, the GOP race is over. No dramatic finale in California, let alone the fascinating, unique spectacle of a brokered convention. It seems incredible that, less than three weeks ago, Donald Trump was weaker on betting markets than he’d been for months, drifting out to around 45%. Even more so that he was rated 82% likely to fall short of 1237 delegates!
Later today I’ll be updating my betting portfolio and reflecting on some of the trades over recent months. First though, we need to look ahead.
In due course, when the nominees are actually confirmed at the conventions, a vast swathe of betting markets will open such as on individual states and, of most interest, the distribution of electoral college votes. For now, though, my focus is on the vice presidential picks.
One minor problem here is that recommending a portfolio, as I did on the nomination, is unrealistic because getting a sizeable bet on is not straightforward. Conventional bookmakers tend to restrict stakes on these markets, in fear of insider information. You will struggle to get £50 on in a betting shop.
Betfair has no such restrictions, of course, but in order to play seriously we’ll need much more liquidity than is currently available. Hopefully it will improve, as political gamblers free up funds from the nomination markets.
Nevertheless, I’ll run through my strategy as we go. First, the Republicans. I’ve already laid (opposed) John Kasich at 25% a couple of months ago, and am very confident of securing those 12 units of profit.
Indeed, I’m not convinced by any of Trump’s defeated opponents. The race was simply too brutal, the insults too harsh. Were any of them the nominee – with the possible exception of Trump surrogates Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee – the media and Democrat ads would be repeating those attacks ad nauseum.
Which brings me to my second position, opposing Ben Carson. I’ve laid four units at odds of 13.0 or 8%. The point here is that Trump is on record as saying he will pick someone with political, legislative experience. A Trump/Carson ticket would be too maverick and risky.
New #Election2016 bet: Laid (opposed) Ben Carson to be Republican Vice Presidential candidate 4 units @ 13 (8%)
— Political Gambler (@paulmotty) May 5, 2016
Granted, Trump is the most unpredictable candidate ever but he’ll surely look for a running mate that compensates for his own weaknesses – chief of which is policy expertise and understanding of the political process.
The field for that role is wide-open. Senator Jeff Sessions – regarded by some as an intellectual leader amongst the modern Conservative movement – might fit the bill. So too does South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.
There’s a bit of money around for former Speaker Newt Gingrich, although this would strike me as another suicidal electoral move. Gingrich has almost as much baggage as Trump, and would probably serve to make a toxic ticket even more so.
Some are talking about Sarah Palin, given her longstanding Trump endorsement. Again, in my view it would be utter madness to pick the woman that alienated so many swing voters in 2008 and beyond.
One outsider that does make some appeal is Rudy Giuliani – available at 50/1 for small sums with bookies. The former NY Mayor has been in Trump’s corner for months when most establishment figures wouldn’t touch him. A popular figure, moderate enough to attract Democrat voters, with a wealth of governing experience, Giuliani could help detoxify the Trump brand and win some purple states.
However right now, I’d rather play bookie. There’s a lot of guessing going on, especially among UK gamblers whose first instinct is to back the losing candidates that they know from the nomination race. This has happened in previous cycles – Mitt Romney was a very short-priced favourite in 2008, for example, despite having lost the nomination due to a terrible campaign.
Christie, friend and surrogate to Trump, is another near the top of the market who is well worth opposing. I think he’d get a big job in a Trump administration – Attorney General perhaps – but can’t see what he’d bring to the ticket. Rather than offering a contrast, he shares Trump’s brash, North-East persona and is also viewed with deep scepticism by a large part of the Conservative base.
Marco Rubio is a name I’ve toyed with in recent days, after the one-time favourite offered much warmer words than usual about Trump. He would make sense from the standpoint of trying to unite the party, and I suspect he’s on Trump’s list.
However there are two problems with Rubio. First, neither man needs their farcical war of words replaying endlessly on TV. It was arguably the most damaging part of the process for both. Secondly, Rubio may have his eyes on running in 2020 and has little to gain from being associated with what is rated heavily odds-on to be a losing bid.
In short then, I’ve laid Kasich and Carson already and am interesting in taking on Christie if he stays around 5.0 (20%). As for Rubio, I suspect he’ll go a lot shorter than the current 15.0 (7%). If and when those moves materialise, I’ll update here and on Twitter.
Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Bets