Polls Make Grim Reading For Trump and Republicans

This article first appeared at betting.betfair on 21st May 2020

Trump still favourite despite bad polls

The presidential election betting continues to defy the polling trends. Donald Trump remains firm favourite at [2.1] ahead of [2.34] for Joe Biden. Yet according to the RealClearPolitics average, Biden leads by 5.1%.

At the most extreme end, Quinnipac’s latest survey puts the lead at 11%. Data experts such as CNN’s Harry Enten estimate the true lead to be in the middle of that range.

As Enten indicates, these head-to-head match-ups are merely one indicator. Another is approval ratings – two of Trump’s last five ratings were -13 and -14. Plus there is a plethora of polling regarding the wider party division within America, which brings us to the other big betting markets due for November.

Senate betting also set to heat up

Naturally, the presidential election will dominate media coverage and be by far the biggest political market of 2020. Probably all-time. However there will also be the full range of side markets – state betting, electoral college, vote share. Plus as always, control of the House of Representatives and Senate will also be decided on the same day.

The former is a nationwide race, involving the 435 congressional districts last contested at the 2018 mid-terms. In addition, 33 of the 100 Senate seats are up for election.

Right now, the market forecasts the same balance of power. Democrats are just [1.28] to retain control of the House. Republicans are [2.0] to retain the Senate. Closer to polling day, the individual races will all become lively betting heats.

As regarding the presidency, I am very bullish about Democrat chances and consider the market trends to overestimate the Republicans. Here’s why.

Wider poll trends point to pro-Democrat swing

The trends we are seeing now are not merely driven by the recent effect of coronavirus but are long-term. They reflect what appears to be a marked shift away from the Republicans since Trump took office.

Most obviously we have the generic ballot – the best reflection we have of the overall House race. Whereas Republicans won that race by 1% in 2016, they now consistently trail the Democrats on this measure, by an average 8%.

That is entirely in keeping with the ‘Blue Wave‘ that delivered a House majority in 2018 and best Democrat mid-term result since Watergate. However the narrative coming out of those elections was skewed by what simultaneously happened in the Senate – easily retained by the Republicans.

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