Back in January, when asked to list the ten best political betting markets of all time, I took the liberty of pre-empting this year’s presidential cycle. A safe bet that has more than delivered. After the latest bout of market madness, it deserves to be number one.
From the moment news broke about a ‘medical emergency involving Hillary Clinton’ on Sunday morning, the mainstream media, internet and betting markets lost their minds. As I write, they haven’t calmed down. At 1.58 and 3.35 respectively, Clinton and Donald Trump’s combined odds equate to 93% of the book.
In other words, the market rates it 7% likely that the next president is somebody else. This is in my view completely wrong, and reminiscent of the GOP race when speculation about a contested convention left Trump and Ted Cruz at around 80%, despite nobody else being mathematically capable of winning the most delegates.
This is actually much worse, because the contested convention was a realistic possibility, (higher than an 80% chance in the betting at one stage). To get a new candidate in for the presidency now would require a truly miraculous series of events.
Now I’m not a doctor, privy to any inside information or connected to what Sarah Palin calls the ‘lamestream media’, but until somebody actually *proves* to me that Clinton doesn’t have pneumonia, I will ignore the conspiracy theories.
People get sick, especially 67 year-olds with workloads most of us cannot imagine. Given the rumours endlessly fueled by her opponents, it is perfectly logical (and in her nature) that Clinton would want to keep it secret and ‘power through’ as she put it.
It is also perfectly logical that she wouldn’t have wanted to miss the 9/11 service for anything and that extreme heat in NYC would cause great distress (especially if she wasn’t 100%). I’m 23 years younger and in good health, yet two days earlier found the heat in Central Park unbearable.
But regardless of the truth – for I know there are millions of Trump supporters who will never accept that version, and are free to take the other side of the bet – there is nothing to suggest she is pulling out of the race. And when she returns to campaigning this week, she may find that the narrative has turned in her favour.
This time last week, her deeply damaging e-mails were dominating the cycle. Now it’s her ‘deplorable’ comments and pneumonia. When she returns, her narrative will be about being back, fresh and resilient. And the news cycle will move on.
Already, the pressure has now switched to Trump to be more transparent. About his health but even more so his tax returns. Campaign manager Kelly-Anne Conway today hilariously claimed releasing medical records was an invasion of privacy. Yet another gift to the critics and invitation for media criticism.
.@KellyannePolls: I don’t know why we need such extensive medical reporting when we all have a right to privacy #AMR @MSNBC
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) September 13, 2016
The founder of LinkedIn has pledged $5M to veteran charities if Trump releases his tax returns. The NYT editor has said he’ll risk prison to publish them. Trump own charitable contributions are under embarrassing scrutiny. All of the other stuff about Trump University and Vladimir Putin is out there too. The scrutiny that I hoped would be placed on Trump in March may have finally arrived.
Even the ‘deplorable’ comments have shifted the debate onto terms that suit Clinton. Fair or not, Trump will be constantly pressured to criticise the most deplorable elements of his support base, such as David Duke.
Many commentators are pointing out that a substantial section of his support are, indeed, racist. Soon the ‘deplorable’ tag may be directed at Trump cheerleaders like Alex Jones of Infowars – he of 9/11, birther, Sandy Hook and Michelle Obama conspiracy theory fame.
This is a much better news cycle for Clinton than the same time last week. Democrats will love Trump being associated with such people. Most Republicans will hate it.
All the while, regardless of that narrative, the fundamentals remain terrible for Trump. The electoral college map is awful, requiring a virtual clean sweep in states where he trails in the polls and is way behind in terms of organisation.
Trump and the Republicans are putting a lot of resources into North Carolina – a state Mitt Romney won and which Trump absolutely must hold to have any chance, yet trails! Meanwhile in the state that may well push Clinton over the line, Obama just hit the campaign trail, dominating headlines with scathing attacks on Trump.
Infinitely stronger Republican candidates have failed to win Pennsylvania since the 1980s. Even the theory that Trump will attract new rust-belt voters doesn’t really stack up. The Philadephia Enquirer reports that, in fact, there are 43,000 more newly registered Democrats than Republicans.
That’s why I’m adding to my substantial existing risk and backing Clinton again at 1.58. There will doubtless be cover bets on this and my other existing positions. I’ll write another piece soon about strategy going forward but for now its time to be brave, beat the curve and take the wrong odds.
Back Hillary Clinton 100 units @ 1.58