This article first appeared on 7th September at betting.betfair.com
Betfair markets continue to diverge significantly from polling models, despite a stack of evidence emerging to disprove the narrative that Donald Trump enjoyed a bounce following the Republican Convention. His odds imply a 45% chance of winning compared to just 28% with Fivethirtyeight and even lower in other models such as the New Statesman (19%) or The Economist (16%).
One frequently stated explanation is fear of history repeating itself. Remember 2016, when Hillary Clinton was overwhelming favourite, but Trump defied the polls and the pundits. There is a narrative that Biden is no better a candidate and will suffer the same fate.
Opponents claim he has dementia. There was no evidence of that in his conference speech. Nor when returning to in-person campaigning last week. Rather, his interventions regarding the violence in Wisconsin and the story claiming Trump had called fallen US soldiers ‘suckers’ and ‘losers, were competently executed with the right tone.
It is early days in the campaign, of course. Biden is bound have his bad days and we can’t really say how effective he’ll be just yet. We can, however, note the fundamental differences with Clinton.
There is probably a bias against female candidates
Start with the obvious. It is often said that women are at a disadvantage with the US electorate. I’m not wholly convinced because there are plenty of very electable women, but don’t doubt a small segment still can’t get their heads around career women. Let alone Commander-in-Chiefs. In head-to-head polls versus Trump, Democrat men fared slightly better than women.
Biden is in a far superior polling position
The differences between current polls and 2016 cannot be overstated. Biden is running comfortably ahead of Clinton’s position. His Fivethirtyeight average lead over Trump is 7.5%, compared to 3.4%.
A critical difference is undecideds or third parties. Their figure amounts to just 6.5% compared to 19% at this stage in 2016. For what its worth, when both Biden and Clinton were polled against Trump in theoretical match-ups in 2015/16, he fared much better.
Biden isn’t under FBI investigation
Lest we forget, Clinton’s campaign was fatally hampered by a year-long FBI investigation into her use of a private e-mail server. It resurfaced during the final days of the campaign, perhaps to decisive effect. It took Trump’s many scandals and controversies off the headlines in that critical closing stretch when those undecideds were choosing.