This article first appeared at The Hub, on Tuesday 25th February
WHAT HISTORY TELLS US
Having constantly noted the parallels between the 2016 Republican Primary and the 2020 Democrat race now seems a good time to compare the state of play. Donald Trump lost Iowa, won New Hampshire, before a thumping victory in Nevada confirmed his clear front-runner status. Bernie Sanders has also started 2/1/1 and is now odds-on to be the Democrat Nominee.
Trump, however, was still a long way off winning majority support, owing his lead to more establishment rivals carving each other up in the early races. Few believed he would win a majority of delegates – the odds about a contested convention shortened to $1.25. Sanders is similarly expected to fall short. In the 2020 version of that market, No Overall Majority is a $1.80 chance.
Heading to South Carolina, the establishment lane carried on fighting among themselves, enabling Trump to extend his lead going into Super Tuesday. The subsequent mini-fightback once Ted Cruz emerged as the main challenger was too little, too late.
WHAT I’VE BACKED
There was even what seemed a critical endorsement in SC, when then Governor Nikki Haley went for Marco Rubio. This time, Wednesday’s announcement from James Clyburn – the most prominent black Congressman in the state – is hotly awaited. I expect it to go for Biden and turn the race in his favour.
South Carolina may, therefore, be the moment where the parallels depart. Whereas Trump was runaway favourite for SC at this late stage, the betting implies a virtually even match between Sanders and Biden. The latter traded at just $1.15 earlier and has seen a vast poll lead disintegrate, in accordance with his national decline.
Nevertheless, Biden remains ahead by an average 3% and, following Clyburn’s likely endorsement, will in my view start favourite. He has lost voters to Tom Steyer, who has been throwing fortunes at ads on black TV stations. I think this billionaire could fade from the high-teens once the other campaigns get a look in. He’s $130.0 to win and blow everybody’s calculations up.
I’ve backed Biden at $2 for South Carolina – my first positive interest on the former VP – and $16 for the nomination.
The latter is with a view to laying back at shorter over the next few weeks. Why the change of heart? Simply, events leading up to and including Nevada.
No question, Sanders emerges well ahead after a massive win. He has an emerging narrative, as the candidate who can inspire the extra voters that Democrats always need in general elections – young people and minorities. Latinos registered and voted in much higher numbers than 2016, overwhelmingly for Bernie, as did the young.
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