This article first appeared at betting.betfair.com on 27th April 2020
You may think, based on the nomination process, historic precedent and virtually all mainstream media coverage, that November’s General Election will be a contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. A significant slither of Betfair punters, however, disagree.
Current odds reflect around an 10% chance that the next president will be somebody else – Trump is available to back at [2.1], Biden at [2.32]. What is the thinking behind this?
Rumour mill means opportunity to trade
Well, it must first be noted that punters backing alternatives may not necessarily actually believe they will win, or even have a chance. Rather they see an opportunity to make a trading profit. If this election turns out to be anything like the last in 2016, they are likely right.
That cycle was like nothing we’ve ever seen on Betfair. Rumours, fake news and actual real-world scares kept spooking the markets, driving vast, rapid fluctuations.
Most memorably, Hillary Clinton collapsed with pneumonia at a 9/11 memorial. Social media was awash with conspiracy theories that she was dead, dying or would be forced to withdraw. Sean Hannity even reported hours later on Fox News that he had ‘information’ that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) were meeting urgently to anoint Biden as her replacement.
Conspiracy sites move markets
Biden and Bernie Sanders’ odds kept crashing throughout the rest of the race – right up until election week – in response to that rumour, or the relentless noise coming from since-convicted Trump ally Roger Stone, Julian Assange and Alex Jones via his Infowars conspiracy site.
On the Republican side, alternatives to Trump were also heavily gambled once the Pussygate tapes were released. Mike Pence’s odds fell from [1000.0] to [50.0], whilst then Speaker Paul Ryan was trading around the same. There was clearly money to be made from trading these swings.
This cycle has been rife with rumours of a Democrat fix for months. That a brokered convention would result in the DNC imposing somebody who hadn’t even entered the primaries. Hillary Clinton has been popular throughout and is still only [26.0] for the nomination, [70.0] for the presidency.
Could Tara Reade scandal derail Biden?
These rumours are gaining traction due to the alleged Tara Reade scandal. This has yet to cut through in mainstream media but Trump media – ever on the lookout for diversions from his disinfectant comments – are all over it.