There are many things that we should have learned about Donald Trump over the past 18 months – most of all that he routinely breaks political convention and is unpredictable. Which is why playing Betfair’s Next Secretary of State market is both exciting and fraught with danger.
Consider the last two incumbents – John Kerry and Hillary Clinton. Both top-level Democrat politicians, firmly on the same page as President Obama. Likewise Condi Rice and Colin Powell under President Bush. I don’t recall much betting activity on those nominations but, if there had been, the odds would have been short.
Compare that to the daily media drama involving Trump’s selection. We hear about the growing list of interviewees, but are then left wondering whether this was a serious interview, while various factions argue about them. It is tempting to conclude that Trump is doing what Trump does best – playing the media and sucking up all their oxygen.
Since the market opened, over half the money has been traded on one man – a selection that would generate endless publicity and speculation about motives. Mitt Romney has been matched down to [2.2] (45%) which, for my money, is way too short.
One could speculate about numerous motives. Is this revenge – setting his most vehement critic up for a very public humiliation? If Romney doesn’t get the job, that will certainly be achieved.
Or is it a magnimous gesture – proving that Trump can reach out to rivals and opponents in the national interest? The 2012 nominee is unarguably a heavyweight.
Or is Trump laying down a marker to his team and supporters about who calls the shots? The likes of Kelly-Anne Conway, Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee are in open revolt about the prospect of Romney. So too Sean Hannity and much of his fanatical support base.
Rather like the VP selections, the problem with these markets are we are trying to predict the mind and behaviour of one individual, whom we don’t know. We also don’t know when the result will be announced. We could place a bet right now, and find out it’s fate within minutes. For all we know, the decision has been made.
Lest we forget, plenty of favourites were beaten in the Republican VP market – Gingrich, Christie, Kasich, Sessions. I got 34.0 about the eventual winner Mike Pence late in the piece. Previously he’d been above 100.
It all leads me to conclude that Romney could be another dodgy favourite. The fact that some media companies are calling him the front-runner doesn’t mean much when the same media said that those other names were top of the VP list.
Sure Romney could win but there are plenty of alternatives. For foreign policy expertise, Jon Huntsman or Bob Corker would fit the bill. I’m not totally convinced the nominee is even in the betting yet, and note that Fox are reporting that Ford CEO Alan Mulally is to be interviewed. At 37.5%, Romney’s chance looks overstated.