Iowa Caucus Betting Preview and Analysis

This article first appeared at on January 29th, 2020

Less than one week out from the Iowa Caucuses – the traditional curtain raiser of primary season – Bernie Sanders is all the rage. He’s into a best-priced 7/4 with Unibet for the Democratic nomination and 9/2 with Coral to become the Next President.

Sanders Odds-On For Each Of First Three Races

Such confidence is driven by the fact he is now odds-on favourite with the best political betting sites for the opening three primaries. As explained last week, history says it is extremely difficult to win the nomination without these early, momentum-building victories.

Nevertheless as the betting implies, Sanders is no certainty. In fact it isn’t entirely clear what the polling picture in Iowa is. Three of the last four surveys put him in front, polling between 25 and 30%. However a fourth for Suffolk University had him on a mere 19%, 6% behind Joe Biden.

I’m strongly inclined to assume the best polls are right in Sanders case. At this stage, he evidently is the one with momentum – nationally, locally or online. His grassroots supporters were especially effective at winning caucuses in 2016 – they are probably even better organised now.

Caucuses are very different from primaries, in that their process favours the more energised and organised local campaigns. Rather than simply vote at a polling station, caucus-goers attend a local meeting to engage in a complex process, which involves eliminating weaker candidates and attempting to win their supporters over. See this guide for an explanation.

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