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Free Money & Stupid Odds

October 7th, 2019

Looking at the Betfair WH2020 markets

Let’s start with Hillary Clinton. Remember her? Failed Presidential candidate last time around, not standing this time. Would lose, badly, if she had stood.

What is the right price for a non-candidate three months from the first Primaries of the 2020 election campaign? 500-1? I guess you could make a case for 250-1 in the event that, say, it was a contested convention, and all the other potential Democratic candidates had just been arrested for shoplifting Make America Great Again merchandise. But otherwise?

Hillary Clinton is currently third favourite for the Democratic nomination on Betfair at 14.5.

She is one tenth of the price of Amy Kloubachar, who is – you know – actually running and in the debates, and in one poll last month was just a point behind Bernie Sanders in Iowa. Now is Amy likely to win? Nope. But there is actually a credible path to the Nomination for her. (You know: Biden stumbles due to Ukraine, moderate woman with good support in Iowa does OK in the debates, and then comes second in Iowa. Suddenly she’s duking it out with Warren in the Primaries.)

But Hillary, Hillary, Hillary. In just four months she’ll have zero delegates, and there will be a clear front runner. There’s no way she’ll be 14.5 then – more like 250. (As in, you don’t need to lock up your money for a year, only four months.) Fill your boots.

There are other ridiculous prices. See President Trump is currently 1.25 to be the next Republican nominee. (Bet £1… win 25p if he’s the nominee.) Sounds about right to me (perhaps a tiny bit generous)… The price implies there’s a one-in-four chance that the current impeachment hearings come to something or he has some kind of health issue.

But then there’s the Vice President: Mike Pence. Now, no-one is going to claim he’s the most incredible performer on the campaign trail. But in the event that President Trump decides impeachment is not looking good, or Trump gets floored by a heart attack, then who’s stepping in? That would be Vice President Pence. If Trump steps down, it’s not going to be in the context of a traditional contested Primary season, it’s going to be in a chaotic handover to the Vice President, and the RNC is going to be directly choosing the next nominee. Which will be – yes – Mike Pence.

So, let’s assume that there a 25% chance of Trump not being the nominee. The only reasonable circumstance where Pence does not take over is if he’s as implicated in Ukraine as Trump is. So, let’s be generous. Let’s say that in the event of Trump stepping down then it’s only a 50% chance that Pence is the candidate. That means he should be about 9 for the nomination and say 20 for the Presidency.

His odds are currently 17 and 60. The second of these two (which includes any situation where Trump steps down between nomination and inauguration) is an absolute bargain: fill your boots.

Robert Smithson