This article first appeared at casino.org on Monday 8th August, 2022
Outside of a Presidential year, the biggest betting event in US politics is the mid-term elections. The season is already well underway, following a summer of primaries.
My best US bet of the year, pinpointed in January, already landed with ease at odds of around 5/4, as Brian Kemp became the Republican Nominee for Georgia Governor.
What’s In Play?
All 435 seats for the House of Representatives. Gubernatorial races in 36 states. 35 of the 100 seats in the US Senate.
All are scheduled for November 8 and all are betting heats.
The Senate and House races will have big implications for President Biden’s ability to deliver legislation. Presidential candidates for 2024 are sure to emerge, especially from those Governor races.
What Are The Betting Options?
Regarding the big picture, Betfair offer odds on which party wins a majority in either the Senate or the House.
William Hill offer a market on the double. For example, they offer Even money or 2.0 that the Republicans win the House, Democrats the Senate.
Note if the Senate is tied 50-50 as it currently stands, that will count as a Democrat win as Vice President Kamala Harris holds the casting vote.
That even money double reflects the current projection.
The Democrats are now slight favorites for the Senate, following a big turnaround in recent weeks.
The Republicans, however, remain very strong favorites to win the House. Their latest Betfair odds are just 1.17.
Going deeper, we can bet on the outcome of all the states deemed competitive. Or even the exact number of seats each party will win in each chamber.
What’s The Form Guide?
So why is the betting so different for each chamber?
Simply, the electorates and dynamics differ. Every Congressional district is up but only 34 states will vote for the Senate.
Also, House districts are manipulated along partisan lines and are to an ever larger extent, gerrymandered. Whereas a Senate race covers the entire state.
Historically, mid-term elections for the House work against the party of the president. Opponents tend to be better motivated to turnout.
During President Obama’s two terms, his party were hammered in both sets of mid-terms.
But when President Trump was in the White House, the Democrats enjoyed a ‘Blue Wave’, sweeping the House with 235 seats – an improvement of 41.
Yet on the same day, Trump’s Republicans increased their Senate tally to 53, from 51.
Thus, 2018 illustrates how results between the two chambers do not necessarily correlate.
When the House was last contested, on the same day as the 2020 presidential election and therefore involving a more even turnout, that Democrat advantage fell to just 222-213.
It seems extremely unlikely that they will be able to hold their majority, now they are the incumbents and the Republicans have the extra motivation.
Backlash Against Biden Seems Inevitable
Indeed, the signals have long implied that President Biden will suffer a similar backlash.
It has proved the case in special elections, the disastrous loss of Virginia’s governorship and very nearly a catastrophic loss of New Jersey.
His approval ratings have since sunk to a dismal level, below 40%.
However, momentum may be reversing.
Biden has enjoyed several wins in recent weeks – gas prices falling rapidly, bipartisan bills that few thought possible, better job numbers than expected, the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri.
Generic ballot polls are tied, with more led by the Democrats than not in recent weeks, although are still well short of the double-digit leads enjoyed before 2018.
Fivethirtyeight’s model rates them only 20% likely for the House.
Nevertheless, the Senate is a different story, as a 59% forecast from Fivethirtyeight illustrates.
The states in play are relatively favorable to Democrats – an exact reversal of 2018, when Republican Senators defied the Blue Wave at House level.
Furthermore, the Republicans seem intent on a course of electoral suicide.