This article first appeared at betting.betfair.com on 17th February 2020
Long-term readers may be shocked. After five years covering the Trump beat with incessant negativity, only pausing briefly to cut my losses on THAT night in 2016, I’m coming around to the idea that the nightmare may not end in November. There is a way he can repeat that statistical, geographic fluke – Democrats could throw this unique opportunity away.
To be clear, I am not recommending a bet on Trump at [1.69] and am standing by the fundamentals explained in my recent piece. The election will be a referendum on the president, about whom opinion is entrenched negative. Assuming we reach a point where there is a clear head-to-head contest, I’m confident the polls will remain negative for him and the market move accordingly.
I’m not bailing out of my position – however bad a lay at average [2.4] looks right now. I don’t believe he will better the (sub-par) 46.1% attained in 2016. Trump doesn’t win people over. Generational replacement plus turnout trends should favour Democrats, who maintained a lead around 6% in generic congressional polls. Four years ago, they lost the House vote by 1%.
Trump won thanks to split opposition
Normally in US elections, 46.1% would be a paltry figure for a Republican. Mitt Romney won 47.2%, yet lost the electoral college by 206-332. Trump’s tally was only enough because a trio of minority candidates – Gary Johnson, Jill Stein and Evan McMullin – shared 5% of the vote. The party was divided, and Clinton damaged, by the Kremlin’s fake news campaign – designed to depress turnout, targeted brilliantly at swing states.
Ever since, polls have been terrible for Trump, translating into a series of Democrat gains in special elections and their best mid-term performance since Watergate. Betting against this uniquely divisive president paid dividends both then and when impeached.
Nevada debate to ramp up hostilities
If the Democrats can manage to unite, (relatively at least), and no third party surge materialises, I’m confident they’ll win, whoever they put up. Here’s the problem – they show absolutely no sign of uniting. Rather, their civil war is about to escalate in tomorrow’s TV debate in Nevada ahead of Saturday’s caucuses.
After much speculation, Michael Bloomberg has qualified and will make his first appearance on the debate stage. The Democrat Nominee betting increasingly projects a dual between the billionaire and Bernie Sanders. The two candidates least likely to unite the party.
Sanders remains the most likely nominee. Despite showing no signs of converting opponents, he seems sure to accumulate many delegates and build a substantial early lead over the weeks ahead. Perhaps not enough, however, to win a majority and avoid a divisive, contested convention.