This piece was first published on 9th March 2020 at Betfair Australia’s The Hub
HOW DID THE ODDS SWING SO MUCH?
Perhaps the most famous saying in British politics is that “A week is a long time in politics”. Rarely has such a phrase been more apt with regards a US Election.
Previously, I observed the remarkable parallels between this Democrat primary and the Republican race of 2016, but how I was backing Joe Biden in expectation of those parallels diverging at the South Carolina primary. It really couldn’t have worked out better.
Not only did Biden deliver on that even money bet by a whopping 29% but that result transformed the dynamics of the race just in time for Super Tuesday. From odds $16.0 a few days before SC, the former VP is now rated 87% likely to be the nominee at odds of $1.15.
What happened? Simply the projected developments played out much quicker than anyone expected. Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar surrendered their slim ST hopes and endorsed Biden, who consequently hoovered up the ‘moderate’, ‘anyone but Bernie’ lane and their supporters.
Results are still being counted from California so we don’t know the exact delegate count but as this latest estimate shows, Biden has overtaken Sanders. Even the most optimistic forecasts predicted he would still be short at this stage.
A remarkable turnaround but could there be another? After all, recent political betting history tells us to back outsiders. I’m not convinced. Besides some dramatic implosion due to a scandal or sudden health problems, it is hard to see how Biden loses from here.
It is clear how Team Sanders will try. Scorched earth tactics, amplified by an aggressive online movement. As with other rivals past and present, Biden is painted as a ‘centrist’ – a ‘neoliberal’ corporate sellout, in hock to Wall Street. A supporter of the Iraq invasion and racist policing. The beneficiary of an establishment stitch-up and rigged primary.
Honesty has left the building. The BernieBros are already replicating the language of the Trump campaign, even retweeting their edited videos, to claim Biden has dementia or, in their co-ordinated messaging ‘cognitive decline’.
Will it work? If the plan is to make Biden unelectable, perhaps. We saw how Clinton was damaged from the Democrat civil war in 2016. However, I’ll be amazed if it wins Sanders the nomination. These tactics strike me like a furious backlash to a shocking defeat, rather than acknowledge what really went wrong.