Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey without warning on Tuesday and almost immediately, Democratic leaders and Trump opposition began pointing to this as proof that there may indeed be something to all those Trump/Russia collusion accusations.
Prominent betting site Paddy Power has since cut the odds of Trump being impeached in his first term, which means the bookmakers are now paying less for successful wagers on a first term impeachment.
Just over a week ago, Paddy Power was offering 11/10 that Trump would be impeached during his first term. Those odds have since shortened to 4/6. This is a minor shift, but the odds are now roughly equivalent to a 60% chance of impeachment. However, keep in mind that betting odds do not directly represent the likelihood of an event happening. The odds are only a reflection of how much money is being wagered on each side of a bet.
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Betfair has seen similar movement since the news broke. The Daily Mail reports that Betfair has seen a surge in customers wanting to bet on Trump’s impeachment. A Betfair spokesperson even cited one anonymous customer who has already bet £30,000 on Trump being impeached and is now looking to bet an additional £100,000 on that same outcome now that Comey has been fired.
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I do not think actual likelihood of Donald Trump being impeached has changed since he sacked James Comey. The move did provide plenty of ammo to Trump’s political opponents, but the President does have the authority to fire the FBI Director. Furthermore, firing the FBI director does not stop any investigations being conducted by the FBI.
We should all be careful that we don’t fall into the trap of confirmation bias. The political climate in the United States is so divided that large swaths of the population simply know Donald Trump is unfit for office and colluded with the Russians to steal the election from Hillary Clinton. So when the news of Comey’s firing broke, it confirmed what many already know to be true: that Trump is guilty and is now trying to impede the Russian investigation.
What has been forgotten amidst all this hubbub is that prominent politicians on both sides of the political spectrum have been calling for James Comey to resign for months now. In fact, Trump himself posted a Tweet just the other day showing examples of this:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 11, 2017
The other big thing is this: nobody has yet produced a shred of evidence that Trump colluded with the Russians. In fact, we don’t even really know what the accusation is. The media reporting on this issue has been substandard. There have been reports that Russia somehow “hacked” the election which makes it sound as if someone was tampering with the voting machines.
This accusation, as far as I can tell, still revolves around the release of John Podesta’s e-mails and a social media disinformation campaign prior to the election. Although you might be able to classify private e-mails being leaked as a “hack,” Podesta’s e-mail account was accessed via a simple fishing scheme. He received an e-mail telling him that he needed to reset his password, but that e-mail ended up being a ruse conducted by yet-unknown entities to get his password.
The only evidence that has been produced was the infamous Trump dossier alleging Russia had compromising information on Donald Trump involving certain activities with Russian prostitutes. That dossier later turned out to be a fabrication.
On the other hand, the Trump opposition has drawn comparisons of Trump’s firing of James Comey to Nixon’s firing of Watergate investigator Archibald Cox. A congressional panel later voted for impeachment and Nixon resigned before a full House vote could be held on impeachment.
This point of view is understandable given the many accusations and the ongoing Michael Flynn drama. However, I still do not think Trump’s likelihood of being impeached is great enough to warrant betting on that outcome at odds that are less than even money.
Instead, the value can be found betting on Trump to complete his first term at even money odds courtesy of Paddy Power. Between all the breathless reporting on this issue and the constant state of outrage among the public at large, I believe the odds have been impacted by people betting on a Trump impeachment due to vague feelings rather than due to hard evidence. This is an excellent opportunity to fade the public and take the odds on Trump finishing his first term.
Whatever your politics, fading the public can be a profitable strategy in sports and politics alike. We’ve already seen this in action with the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump. In both cases, the news reporting got it completely wrong and mislead the public as to how close the results were likely to be. This skewed the odds and made betting on the “unpopular” outcome a profitable decision. A similar effect is happening right now with the likelihood of Trump being impeached.