Betting on the 2016 US Presidential Election

Image credit: Tom Lohdan
Image credit: Tom Lohdan

The United States political climate is more divisive now than it has been in a long time. It seems like someone, somewhere manages to find a political angle to anything that comes up in conversation. It has gotten so bad that politics defines us beyond just some of our opinions. It’s gotten to the point where you can guess someone’s political affiliation somewhat accurately with just one piece of information about that person. Does he enjoy hunting? Must be a republican. Does she live in San Francisco? Probably a Democrat.


Where to Bet on the 2016 Election

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In other words, we have reached “peak divisiveness.” It is annoying and concerning, but it does make for some interesting political discussions. All you need to do is check the last few headlines over at your favourite politics blog. The odds are you’ll see all kinds of things that trigger anger, disgust or wicked glee.

The good news is that this backdrop will make it interesting to bet on the 2016 US Presidential election online. The conversation has been going for months and we still have almost a full year (at the time of this writing) before the voting booths even open. We have plenty of time to research our wagers and there is certainly no lack of opinion pieces, polling data and news to catch up on in the meantime.

Betting sites that accept wagers on politics have been covering the 2016 election for months now. They update the odds frequently based on the latest news, polls and wagers placed by customers. We’ve seen candidates rise and fall over the course, and we’ll probably see more of the same going forward.

2016 Election Betting Preview

FINAL UPDATE: 7 November 2016

Well, this is it. The long, comical, torturous, interesting and unpredictable 2016 election comes to its ultimate conclusion tomorrow evening. Early voting has been going on for weeks, but tomorrow is the big day during which the majority of the people who will vote in the 2016 Presidential election will actually cast their votes.

The polling places open mere hours from now and soon we will finally find out who will be the next President of the United States. We’ll also soon find out whether or not our bets on the election paid off. Of course, there is still time to get one last bet in if you’re feeling extra confident or if you’re suddenly feeling like you need to hedge your original wager.

As crazy as this election season has been, it has also been a lot of fun to follow. The original post has now expanded by a factor of 20 due to constant updates, but it has not felt like a chore at all. In fact, I wish we could have an election just like this one every year (ok, maybe not, but it really was fun).

In the last update, the FBI had notified the American people that it had reopened its case into the Hillary e-mail server after discovering some 650,000 e-mails on disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s computer. Eight days later, the FBI announced that it had reviewed the e-mails and found that their contents have not changed the conclusions the FBI originally reached in July. It was good news for Hillary to close out the election.

The latest polls show a close race in key battleground states. One thing to remember if you’re planning on placing any last minute bets is that the Presidency is chosen by the electoral college, not by the popular vote. If one poll shows one candidate leading nationally, but a different poll shows the other candidate leading in key battleground states, the second poll is the most important of the two.

The winning candidate needs 270 electoral college votes to win the Presidency. Most states are reliable in either going democratic or republican, so we can ignore those for the most part barring any huge upsets. So far, none of the polls have shown us anything indicating Trump suddenly winning California or Hillary suddenly winning Texas. So, we don’t need to worry about those states.

The big swing states are the ones everyone is watching tonight and will be watching tomorrow. Those include Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. You can read why these states matter here.

Here is the latest polling data in each state courtesy of RealClearPolitics:

Ohio

  • 7 November / Emerson College Polling: Trump +7
  • 6 November / CBS News-YouGov: Trump +1
  • 6 November / Columbus Dispatch: Clinton +1
  • 6 November / Remington Research: Trump +1

Florida

  • 7 November / Quinnipiac: Clinton +1
  • 7 November / Gravis: Clinton +1
  • 7 November / Trafalgar Group: Trump +4
  • 7 November / Opinion Savvy: Clinton +2

Colorado

  • 5 November / Gravis: Tie
  • 4 November / PPP: Clinton +5
  • 4 November / Trafalgar Group: Clinton +1
  • 4 November / Keating Research: Clinton +5

Iowa

  • 5 November / Des Moines Register: Trump +7
  • 5 November / Loras: Clinton +1
  • 4 November / Emerson: Trump +3

Michigan

  • 7 November / Gravis: Clinton +5
  • 7 November / Trafalgar Group: Trump +2
  • 6 November / FOX 2 Detroit: Clinton +5
  • 4 November / Detroit Free Press: Clinton +4

Nevada

  • 7 November / Emerson: Clinton +1
  • 7 November / Remington Research: Trump +1
  • 2 November / CNN: Trump +6
  • 2 November / 8 News NOW: Tie

New Hampshire

  • 7 November / Emerson: Clinton +1
  • 7 November / WMUR-UNH: Clinton +11
  • 4 November / UMass Lowell: Tie
  • 4 November / Gravis: Trump +2

North Carolina

  • 7 November / NY Times: Tie
  • 7 November / Quinnipiac: Clinton +2
  • 7 November / Gravis: Clinton +1
  • 4 November / Trafalgar Group: Trump +5

Pennsylvania

  • 7 November / Trafalgar Group: Trump +1
  • 5 November / Morning Call: Clinton +4
  • 5 November / Gravis: Clinton +2
  • 4 November / Harper: Tie

Virginia

  • 7 November / Christopher Newport U: Clinton +6
  • 7 November / Hampton University: Clinton +4
  • 7 November / Gravis: Clinton +5
  • 6 November / Remington Research: Clinton +2

Wisconsin

  • 6 November / Remington Research: Clinton +8
  • 4 November / Loras: Clinton +6
  • 2 November / Marquette: Clinton +6
  • 30 October / Remington Research: Clinton +4

And here are the latest polls for the general election (nationwide vote totals)

  • 7 November / Bloomberg: Clinton +3
  • 7 November / IBD-TIPP Tracking: Trump +2
  • 7 November / CBS News: Clinton +4
  • 7 November / FOX News: Clinton +4
  • 7 November / ABC-Washington Post: Clinton +4
  • 7 November / LA Times-USC: Trump +5

If you’re planning to bet based on the polling data alone, this looks like an easy win for Hillary as she leads most polls. However, Team Trump has made a lot of noise lately regarding the rigged election and crooked polls. If you take him at his word for it, the pollsters are in the tank for Clinton and should not be trusted.

To be fair, the WikiLeaks revelations do lend some credence to his claims. Multiple e-mails revealed that the Clinton Campaign has been coordinating with major US media outlets for the purpose of advocating for a Hillary Presidency. If such blatant collusion is possible in the realms of media, it’s not as big a stretch to also wonder if the polls could be showing some bias as well.

However, Mitt Romney supporters made similar arguments ahead of the 2012 election. They said not to trust the polls, that Romney’s people were more energized and that this would be a victory for the Republican candidate. Romney and his people were later shocked when Obama sailed to an easy victory.

This race is a tough one to call. Most media outlets are predicting a Hillary victory, but we also know just how surprising the Brexit outcome was. Do we believe in the Brexit effect that goes against the polling data or should we trust the polls to deliver as they did in the 2012 US Presidential election?

Well, you have a few more hours to decide and book your final bets. In any case, we’ll start to get a clear picture of how this race is going about 24 hours from now. Good luck to everyone. It has been a pleasure following the 2016 race all this time.

Latest US Presidential Election Odds

This chart begins with the odds for each candidate becoming the president followed by a list of each candidate’s odds for winning the party’s nomination.

Update: 31 October 2016

Happy Halloween. As is custom, developments in the 2016 Presidential election have come fast and furious since the last update. It seems we can’t go more than a couple days without some breaking story threatening to derail one campaign or the other. This week has been particularly good for Team Trump and particularly troubling for Team Hillary.

Let’s get right to the biggest story of the week: The FBI has reopened its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server. The big break came as a result of a previously-unrelated investigation into Huma Abedin’s estranged husband Anthony Weiner for allegedly exchanging inappropriate texts with a minor.

During the Weiner investigation, FBI officials found a laptop containing previously-undiscovered e-mails that are somehow related to Hillary’s private e-mail server. The FBI hasn’t gone into much detail regarding the contents of those e-mails other than to say they are related to the Clinton server and have prompted the FBI to reopen its investigation.

Within a day, it was revealed that Anthony Weiner’s laptop contained 650,000 e-mails in a folder titled “Life Insurance.” The reinvigorated investigation is unlikely to get very far before the election on 8 November. Still, just the mere fact that Hillary’s e-mails are leading the conversation once again does not bode well for her polling numbers. And also, at the rate, this election has gone so far, who knows what will come out next related to this particular investigation or anything else.

Hillary backers have criticized FBI Director James Comey for issuing this vague announcement so close to the election, but the White House itself came out earlier today in support of the FBI. That was strange to see considering Obama’s open support of Hillary Clinton in this election cycle. It seems significant that the Clinton Camp and White House are not on the same page regarding their assessments of the FBI, but what the significance actually means is anyone’s guess at this point.

In other news, CNN political analyst and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile has been released from CNN after Wikileaks e-mails revealed that she had fed debate questions to Hillary Clinton ahead of democratic primary debates. She now serves as the interim chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, having taken over after former chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign after Wikileaks e-mails revealed that she had colluded with the Clinton campaign to sabotage the Bernie Sanders campaign during the Democratic primary.

And now, just a few hours ago, news reports began circulating the the FBI has initiated an “inquiry” into Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort’s foreign business ties in Russia. This news is still developing as I write this update, so it’s hard telling if this story will turn into something major or if it ends up being a nothing-burger.

The polls have tightened a bit as a result of all these developments. The race has suddenly become a lot closer and that has had an effect on the latest betting odds, which you can see below.

Pre-Debate Update: 19 October 2016

The third and final Presidential debate is just a couple of hours away as of this writing and I’d like to get in a quick update before the debate. Last week, it was Donald Trump who had to deal with damaging revelations. This week, it has been Hillary Clinton’s turn.

Wikileaks has continued its drip-drip release of Podesta e-mails, the FBI released a bunch of damaging documents related to the e-mail server investigation and James O’Keefe began dropping undercover videos in which DNC election insiders were caught bragging about perpetrating voter fraud on a massive scale.

Both sides have jumped on/responded to the latest revelations. Donald Trump, as you can imagine, has been all over these latest revelations. He has been making claims of election rigging, calling attention to damaging e-mails leaked out of the Campaign Chairman’s e-mail account and presenting his case against a Clinton Presidency.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton continues to make the case that Donald Trump is too unpredictable and emotionally unstable to be trusted with the highest office in the United States. Her backers have also brushed off the leaked e-mails as an obvious Russian ploy to influence the US election. This has been one heck of a ride so far.

In other news, two separate news articles paint totally different pictures of the possible outcome of this election.

The Independent published a piece yesterday that should strike fear into the hearts of all Hillary supporters: William Hill has been reporting that the betting trends they are seeing mirror those of the Brexit vote (which resulted in an outcome that totally defied the bookmakers’ odds and almost every poll).

For example, William Hill says:

  • 71% of the money so far has been staked on Hillary Clinton
  • But 65% of the total individual bets by number have been staked on Donald Trump
  • This is exactly what they saw in the run-up to the Brexit vote
  • William Hill has had to cut the odds from 11/2 to 4/1 over the past couple days as an increasing number of bets have come in on Trump

However, nothing is guaranteed. The odds on Clinton are not very attractive at 1/8 to 1/9. Those odds tend to be more attractive to people with a lot of money to wager. Trumps higher-paying odds are more attractive to normal, casual punters. This may explain the phenomenon of Clinton receiving the most money on her side despite Trump having the most bets by number on his.

If you’re a Clinton supporter and feel nervous after reading that, you can take heart from the following bit of news. Paddy Power is so confident of a Hillary victory that they have already started paying out Hillary backers even though election day is still three days out.

CalvinAyre.com reports that Paddy Power has already paid roughly 6,000 punters who got their bets in on Hillary before 1:30 PM Tuesday. A Paddy Power blog post also says that last week’s allegations have put such a damper on the Trump candidacy that his chances look “as patchy as his tan.”

Tonight’s debate will be an interesting watch no matter what happens. In fact, it’s coming on soon and I gotta run. You can see the latest betting odds below. Stay tuned for more updates as we get closer to election day.

Update: 13 October 2016

Somehow, the 2016 US Presidential election has managed to get stranger since the last update. And if that wasn’t enough, it seems highly likely this election will get even weirder moving forward. Wherever you live and whether or not you plan on betting on the 2016 election online, this is an interesting one to watch. I do highly recommend tuning in if you haven’t been already.

To begin, let’s recap what has happened since the last update:

  • 7 October: Wikileaks begins its drip-drip release of damaging e-mails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and promises more leaks to come every day through the rest of the election process
  • 7 October: A taped recording of Donald Trump making lewd comments about women in 2005 is leaked and receives widespread media attention
  • 8 October: Former Apprentice producer Bill Pruitt claims that there are “far worse” Trump recordings just waiting for discovery in the Apprentice archives
  • 8-10 October: Multiple GOP higher-ups either back away from or outright unendorse Donald Trump due to the tapes
  • 9 October: Trump begins to slide in the polls
  • 9 October: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump hold their second debate
  • 11 October: Trump begins to recover in the polls after a strong debate performance but still trails Clinton in most national polls
  • 12 October: the New York Times publishes an article featuring two women who have accused Donald Trump of sexual assault
  • 12 October: A leaked Wikileaks e-mail exchange between John Podesta, Clinton director of communications Jennifer Palmieri and John Halpin of the Center for American Progress disparages Catholics, call conservative Catholicism a “bastardization” of the faith and suggest a Catholic Spring movement
  • 13 October: Mark Burnett, the top Apprentice producer, states that he will not be releasing any tapes whatsoever due to contractual and legal obligations
  • 13 October: Donald Trump threatens to sue the New York Times, his lawyers send a letter demanding a retraction and the New York Times refuses to budge

In the midst of all this, accusations continue to fly back and forth between both camps. Team Hillary continues to make the case that Donald Trump is a sexist and unfit for President. They blame Russia for the ongoing e-mail hacking scandals. Meanwhile, Donald Trump rails against the media, denies all charges of inappropriate conduct with women and calls Hilary Clinton a hypocrite for calling him a sexist after she slandered and threatened the women that accused her husband of rape.

This has been a nasty election indeed, but I’d be lying if I said it was uninteresting. New, scandalous news breaks every day and it constantly feels like we’re on the verge of an even bigger October Surprise.

The main thing to know from a betting perspective is that Hillary still leads in most polls. If you got your bets in on Hillary early, you can take comfort from the polls. Most pundits are predicting a comfortable Hillary win. Pundits have been wrong before, but it doesn’t often happen that almost everyone gets it wrong.

On the other hand, if you are betting on Trump, you can probably take some comfort from the recent Brexit vote. That was one of the few examples we have in which the outcome defied the polls, pundits and betting odds alike – and it was fairly recent. Also, there are certain parallels between the Brexit campaign and the one we have in the US. Those supporting the leave vote were hesitant to admit so due to the unpopularity of the opinion. If you follow the US media at all, I’m sure you can see how that same effect could be occurring with regard to Donald Trump.

It has been tough to dig up actual, unbiased information on this election. Objective sources are rare; it’s either 100% anti-Trump or 100% anti-Clinton. In almost every instance in which one news source publishes something, it is a near-certainty that another news source is out there saying that the story is a blatant, desperate falsehood.

For just one case in point, let’s refer to the Jessica Leeds accusation published just last night by the New York Times. In that story, she recounts how she rode first-class in an airplane next to Donald Trump 30 years ago. She had never met him before, but explains that 45 minutes into the flight, he lifted the armrest and began to physically accost her.

In her words regarding Donald Trump:

“He was like an octopus. His hands were everywhere.”

This story is still fresh as I write these very words, but already smaller right-leaning blogs are tearing apart the account and pointing out inconsistencies. For one, they note the 2014 sexual assault case against Coronation Street actor Bill Roache. In that case, the woman used language identical to the language used by Jessica Leeds.

From the 2014 account regarding Bill Roache:

“He sort of came over to me and pressed himself against me. He touched both breasts over the clothing … He was like an octopus. Hands everywhere.”

There’s no way we will ever know with a certainty what Donald Trump did or didn’t do to Jessica Leeds. In fact, I don’t think the truth regarding these allegations or any of the allegations against Clinton even matter. The constant drumbeat is damaging both campaigns, and that is the only thing that matters before the election. There simply isn’t enough time to verify or debunk every accusation made to date. People are already voting in some states.

As if that wasn’t enough, there are rumors circulating online that even more damaging information will be released before election day. The threat of even more scandalous Apprentice tapes remains very real even if Mark Burnett himself has no plans to release tapes he holds. Meanwhile, other rumors claim that “much, much” worse is yet to come regarding Clinton.

The betting odds since our update last month have shifted strongly in favor of Hillary Clinton. Previously, Hillary Clinton was priced in the range of 2/5 but she is now sitting at around 1/6. Trump was previously priced right in the range of 2/1 but he is now sitting at around 9/2.

Update: 29 September 2016

The first Presidential debate was held on Monday and now it’s time for another update on the state of the race and the latest betting odds.

Monday night’s event was one of the most-watched Presidential debates of all time. From Engadget we find that this debate was:

  • The most-watched debate broadcast of all time according to Nielsen
  • The most-watched political live steam of all time for YouTube
  • Mentioned in tweets more times than the first 2012 Presidential debate according to Twitter

Given the widespread reach of this debate on both traditional and digital channels, we can assume it will have some impact on how large numbers of people view each candidate. If you are still planning on betting on the 2016 Presidential election, it would be wise to watch the debate yourself or see the transcript so you can determine for yourself what kind of an impact it may have had on each candidate’s odds.

Most post-debate polls and analyses gave the edge to Clinton in their first debate. If the rest of the American people who watched the debate feel the same way, we can expect to see a rise in her polling numbers. This is a big deal for Clinton, whose polling numbers had dropped relative to Trump between our last update on 25 August and Monday morning. As of 29 September, most polls have Clinton ahead by around 4 points. The New York Times national polling average has Clinton ahead 44 to 42.

As you would expect, there are camps on both sides that insist their candidate won. Most of the big-name political pundits scored this as a Clinton victory, but also note that we should be careful in judging this debate by traditional standards. The 2016 election has been anything but standard with two highly-disliked candidates, one of whom is a political dynasty of her own while the other is a brash outsider looks to serve as an agent of change in Washington.

That is an analysis that we should heed. Not very many people believed Trump won in any of the primary debates, but he continued to win the nomination in state after state. The debate is certainly worth watching and following, but I would not recommend placing any bets based solely on each candidate’s performance.

Update: 25 August 2016

Both conventions are done and over with, the post-convention bounces have been accounted for and now the candidates enter the final stretch ahead of the November election. With the primaries now long over and the conventions finished without too much drama, each candidate is now making his/her pitch to the country as a whole to win the general election.

Hillary’s convention bounce seems to have stuck around as she now leads by anywhere from 1 point to 8 points according to major national polls. She’s now leading by about 6 percentage points as an average across the major polls. Additionally, her favourability ratings improved from about 38% to about 43% after the convention and have stayed there.

Meanwhile, Trump’s favourability ratings have remained stuck at around 32-34% for all of August so far. August in general has been rough for Trump as his polling numbers have fallen across the board. He now does not lead in a single national poll.

The e-mail scandal continues to plague Hillary Clinton, but their team has adopted a “run out the clock” strategy to downplay the scandal and let Trump’s poor image do the heavy lifting. FiveThirtyEight is now giving Clinton an 83.5% chance of winning the election compared to Trump’s 16.5% shot.

The Trump campaign maintains that the situation is not as dire as the polls indicate. In an interview with Channel 4, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway says they believe there is a strong “undercover Trump” vote that the polls are missing. She made the point that the hostile press has made it socially desirable for people not to support Trump and compared his campaign to what happened with the Brexit vote.

As tempting as it may be to apply lessons we learned from the Brexit vote, I wouldn’t recommend putting too much stock in that theory. Many people lambasted the polls ahead of the Romney/Obama election in 2012 but were ultimately proved dead wrong by the result. The polls ended up being spot-on.

Whatever the case may be, the betting odds have shifted significantly in favour of Clinton since our last update. Where she was previously a small favourite, she is now leading by upwards of 3/1. You can see the latest odds below.

Update: 26 July 2016

As I write this update, we have one convention down and one in progress. The Republicans had their convention last week in Cleveland to officially nominate Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for the 2016 election. This week, the Democrats are hosting theirs in Philadelphia to make Hillary’s nomination official.

We’re down to two candidates, but political betting sites are still offering a range of wagers on other candidates on the off-chance that something strange happens with one of the current nominees. However, the odds on anyone not named Clinton or Hillary have grown much longer now that we’re mostly through the nomination process.

The oddsmakers still favour Hillary Clinton to win, but Donald Trump has cut into her lead a bit in recent polls and that has brought the odds a little bit closer to the even mark. This election still has a long way to go and a lot could happen between now and November. Nothing is a done deal at this point.

The Republican National Convention went pretty smooth and gave Trump a bump in the polls. There is some debate as to whether Trump’s rise in the polls is a direct result of the convention, a continuation of his momentum (he was starting to catch up before the convention) or a little bit of both. In any case, what matters from a betting perspective is Trump is catching up.

While things have been running rather well for Trump lately, Team Clinton has had a bit of a rough month. Even before the Republican Convention, she was losing ground to Trump. Then, just days before the convention, a highly publicized batch of DNC e-mails was published on Wikileaks.

The e-mail release was timed perfectly to cause chaos for Clinton just ahead of the convention. Those e-mails showed a clear DNC bias to nominate Clinton over Sanders even though the DNC is supposed to be neutral.

Naturally, Sanders supporters were miffed. Many had been complaining for months that Clinton and the DNC were working in cahoots to drag Hillary across the line and make her the Presidential nominee. The leaks finally gave Bernie supporters proof of their accusations. As I write this post, we are two days in to the Democratic Convention and we have now had two days of sizable protests outside the convention.

The 2016 election odds have tightened considerably since we first published this post. Hillary Clinton still leads according to most bookmakers even as national polls are beginning to show a slight edge for Trump.

I have been reluctant to make any recommendations up to this point, but I think now we may be starting to see some value for backing the underdog. In this case, that would be Donald Trump.

The reason I say this because national polling trends are working in Trump’s favour. He has been gaining ground on Hillary but is still paying more if you bet on him. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s trends are going in the opposite direction and you’re still being asked to risk more than you stand to win when betting on Clinton. Some polls even favour Trump at this point.

From a pure value perspective, it doesn’t make much sense to bet on Hillary Clinton right now. She’s dealing with an ongoing e-mail scandal (Wikileaks has promised to release more Clinton e-mails soon), a troubled convention and troubling polling trends. I just can’t make a case to put up £100 on her for a chance to profit just £53. The value is on the underdog.

With the polls not trending well for Clinton, the odds getting tighter and more damaging e-mails likely to come to light any day now, I think now would be a good time to back the underdog. Bets on Donald Trump are paying less every time I come back to update this post. If you want to bet on Hillary, just wait a little longer. Bets on her are getting cheaper and cheaper.

We should also consider that there may be a Brexit effect in play here. If you remember back to the contentious Brexit vote, the betting odds favoured a stay result even as the polls showed a tight race and eventually even a slight edge for the leave side.

Let’s take a look at the latest national polls.

CNN Polling: CNN finds that Trump leads Clinton nationally 44% to 39% in a four-way race between Clinton, Trump, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. Remove those options and you get Trump leading 48% to 45%.

New York Times: Clinton leads Trump 42.7% to 41.8%. Hillary is winning in this one, but the trend is not good for Team Clinton. Those are very close numbers that do not align with the betting odds. Note that this page is updated regularly so you might see different numbers when you visit the New York Times polling page.

CBS News: Trump leads Clinton 43% to 42%.

Update: 20 June 2016

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are now the presumed nominees after a long and contentious primary battle in each party. The funny thing is these two people have the lowest likability ratings of any Presidential candidate in recent history. If you watch much US news, you’re bound to often hear someone mention just how much Americans dislike each candidate.

The e-mail scandal and potential FBI indictment for violating security protocols as Secretary of State continues to dog Hillary Clinton. In recent days, her unfavorability rating has reached a campaign high of 55% according to recent polls. A combination of trust issues and lackluster speechmaking have made it tough for her to gain the type of support that ushered Obama and Bill Clinton into their presidencies.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, gives better speeches to his supporters, but people who don’t like Trump don’t like him at all. Between his opponents and most of the media touting him as a racist bully, plus large swathes of Americans strongly opposed to him, his favorability ratings have also sunk to new lows in recent polls. One poll from ABC News / Washington Post concluded that nearly 70% of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Trump.

Both candidates have their issues, but recent polls are indicating a 7-point lead for Clinton. As such, the bookmakers are pricing Hillary Clinton as the betting favorite.

You may have also noticed that the betting sites are still offering odds on other candidates winning the Presidency even though the primaries are all wrapped up. This is because both parties could still possibly select a different candidate at the convention.

There are still rumors that the Republicans could be hatching a plan to dump Trump at the convention. And as for Hillary, that whole security scandal could possibly lead to an indictment and her being replaced at the DNC convention. Both outcomes seem like long shots, but this has been a strange election season and these are strange candidates.

Delegate Totals as of 20 June

Republicans (1237 needed for nomination)

  • Donald Trump: 1,542
  • Ted Cruz (suspended campaign): 569
  • John Kasich (suspended campaign): 161

Democrats (2383 needed for nomination)

  • Hillary Clinton: 2,806 total; 2,219 pledged / 587 superdelegates
  • Bernie Sanders: 1,880 total; 1,832 pledged / 48 superdelegates

Update: 24 May 2016

Major developments over the past month have changed the political election landscape considerably. Donald Trump is the presumed republican nominee now that all his competitors have officially dropped out of the race. Some online betting sites are still taking longshot wagers on someone else swooping in and taking the nomination at a contested convention, but that outcome is looking increasingly unlikely as time passes.

Things on the democratic side have likewise tightened up. Hillary Clinton now calls herself the presumed nominee even though Bernie Standers is still in the race. Clinton is fast approaching the 2,383 delegates needed for the nomination and she leads Sanders in the all-important super-delegate count. It should be no surprise, then, that the betting sites are pricing Clinton as a massive favourite over Sanders.

Update: 20 April 2016

It’s time for another update now that the important New York primary wrapped up last night. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton secured dominant victories and earned the lion’s share of delegates up for grabs. New York represented an important stepping stone for both front runners and their hopes to secure the Presidential nomination for each party.

GOP: Trump badly needed this run after losing in Wisconsin and failing to earn a single delegate in Colorado. Although the results have yet to be officially tallied, Trump has probably earned 89 or 90 of the delegates up for grabs. John Kasich may have earned 3 delegates while Ted Cruz will leave with none.

The most important result of the Trump victory in New York is that it puts him back on the mathematically-feasible path to achieve the 1,237 delegates necessary to earn the nomination and avoid a contested convention.

DNC: Hillary Clinton won big in New York as well. Early totals put her at winning 57.9% of the vote compared to Sanders’ 42.1%. This will result in Clinton taking home 139 delegates and Sanders leaving with 106.

Perhaps even more importantly, New York provided Hillary with a moral victory. Prior to New York, Sanders had won seven straight primaries and put Clinton at risk of losing the nomination in a way reminiscent of what happened to her in 2008 when Barack Obama came out of nowhere to take the nomination out from under her feet.

Delegate Totals as of 20 April

Republicans (1237 needed for nomination)

  • Donald Trump: 845
  • Ted Cruz: 559
  • John Kasich: 147
  • Delegates still up for grabs: 734

Democrats (2383 needed for nomination)

  • Hillary Clinton: 1428 pledged; 502 superdelegates
  • Bernie Sanders: 1151 pledged; 38 superdelegates
  • Delegates still up for grabs: 1649

Update: 29 March 2016

The biggest news in our last update was the outcome of the Super Tuesday primaries earlier this month. Clinton and Trump gained the most delegates and began to solidify their statuses as front runners. Cruz, Kasich and Sanders also made some noise, but Super Tuesday was mostly good for the afore-mentioned front runners.

Since then, we’ve had a number of other March primaries with every candidate picking up additional delegates. Clinton and Trump have each lengthened their lead in delegate counts, but the odds have changed a bit to show increasing resistance from Cruz and Kasich on the republican side and Sanders on the democrat side.

GOP: Donald Trump continues to win states in what has now become a 3-way republican race. He has expanded his lead over his rivals and is looking increasingly likely to end up with the most delegates. Ted Cruz is coming up in second place and continues to do well, although not well enough to cut into Trump’s lead.

Despite his dominance, Trump is not a foregone conclusion. John Kasich is still in the race and acting as a spoiler. Kasich is winning just enough delegates that he may very well prevent anyone else from reaching the magic number of 1237 delegates necessary to earn the nomination.

If no candidate manages to reach 1237 delegates after all states have held their primaries, the GOP will head to a brokered convention where almost anything can happen. The GOP leaderships seems intent on pushing through an establishment republican and it would surprise no one if they try some last-minute shenanigans to deny Trump or Cruz the nomination so they can install someone they feel they can control.

The GOP establishment types are playing a dangerous game because they risk alienating a large chunk of the base if they try to push someone through that is clearly unwanted. If the GOP does indeed try to force things its own way, I can see a lot of republicans sitting out the race in disgust rather than vote for someone they never even saw on a primary ballot – thus leading to a Democrat victory in the general election.

Since the last update, the odds on Trump winning the Republican nomination have lengthened – which indicates the bookmakers see him as less of a lock than previously. Ted Cruz is still short on the delegate count, but the odds on him have shortened in a way that indicates the oddsmakers see him as more likely to win than the last time around (although Cruz does remain a long shot).

DNC: Hillary Clinton remains the front runner and has extended her lead just a bit since the last update, but Bernie Sanders has momentum on his side. While Clinton did well through the southern states, Sanders is on a roll as the primary process moves out west.

Sanders did especially well in the Pacific Northwest where he won landslide contests over Clinton. In Washington, Hawaii and Alaska, Sanders took no less than 71% of the vote. He does especially well in caucus states while Hillary seems to do better in straight-up primaries. However, Clinton has the backing of the establishment, still leads in the delegate count and remains the favourite to cinch the Democrat nomination.

The betting odds of Clinton winning have lengthened a bit since the last update, which indicates the oddsmakers see her as a little more likely to win the nomination now. The big questions facing Clinton are what happens if:

  • The voters feel that the establishment forced her through over Sanders
  • The FBI recommends an indictment for the e-mail and Clinton Foundation scandals that are hanging over her head

29 states and territories have held their primaries since the last update and now we have 25 more to go between now and June 14th. The remaining “big” states with large delegates totals up for grabs include:

  • 5 April: Wisconsin (96 D delegates and 42 R delegates)
  • 19 April: New York (291 D delegates and 95 R delegates)
  • 26 April: Connecticut (70 D delegates and 28 R delegates)
  • 26 April: Maryland (118 D delegates and 38 R delegates)
  • 26 April: Pennsylvania (210 D delegates and 71 R delegates)
  • 3 May: Indiana (92 D delegates and 71 R delegates)
  • 17 May: Oregon (73 D delegates and 28 R delegates)
  • 7 June: California (546 D delegates and 172 R delegates)
  • 7 June: New Jersey (142 D delegates and 51 R delegates)

Full primary schedule and results here.

Delegate Totals as of 29 March

Republicans (1237 needed for nomination)

  • Donald Trump: 739
  • Ted Cruz: 465
  • John Kasich: 143
  • Delegates still up for grabs: 944

Democrats (2383 needed for nomination)

  • Hillary Clinton: 1243 pledged; 469 superdelegates
  • Bernie Sanders: 975 pledged; 29 superdelegates
  • Delegates still up for grabs: 2049

Super Tuesday Update: 2 March 2016

Trump and Clinton were the big winners in last night’s Super Tuesday primaries. A dozen states plus one territory held their primaries for both the Democratic and Republican election of a nominee. Super Tuesday is an important event for candidates of both parties due to the number of delegates up for grabs.

On the republican side, a candidate needs 1,237 delegates to secure the nomination. On the democratic side, 2,383 delegates are needed for the nomination. With a dozen states awarding delegates all at once on Super Tuesday, this is one of the first true indicators we get of who is likely to win each party’s nomination.

In the republican states last night, Donald Trump dominated by winning 7 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia. Ted Cruz came second by winning Alaska, Oklahoma and Texas. Marco Rubio finished the night with a victory in Minnesota.

Hillary Clinton ran away with the democratic primaries. Of the eleven states that held Democratic primaries, Clinton won 7 and Bernie took 4. Clinton won in Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Sanders won in Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Vermont.

There is still a long time to go, but this first major milestone has helped paint a clearer picture of how things will look moving forward. It is looking increasingly likely that we’ll end up with a Trump vs. Clinton Presidential election.

Delegate totals as of 2 March

Republicans (1237 needed for nomination)

  • Donald Trump: 319
  • Ted Cruz: 226
  • Marco Rubio: 110
  • John Kasich: 25
  • Ben Carson: 8

Democrats (2383 needed for nomination)

  • Hillary Clinton: 1034
  • Bernie Sanders: 408

The bookmakers continue to update the betting odds on each candidate as we continue, and I have updated the odds on this page once again now that we’ve made it past Super Tuesday. The odds have changed significantly since we first published this post with several hundred delegates now assigned to the leading candidates and others dropping out.

Since this post was first published, Hillary Clinton’s odds have moved even further in favour of her winning the Presidential election outright. Trump has caught up with Rubio and now leads as the second-contender. Bernie Sanders is now paying out more than before after his underwhelming performance on Super Tuesday.

Hillary still leads in the democratic nomination side, but Marco Rubio has fallen two spots as Trump has risen. Ted Cruz is now the second-favoured candidate on the republican side thanks to a relatively strong showing on Super Tuesday. Just scroll down a bit and you’ll see the latest odds on the 2016 Presidential election as well as the prices for each party’s nominee.

Previous Update: 2 February 2016

The democratic and republican candidates announced their bids last year and are now embarked on the long, hard slog that entails campaigning for the presidency. As the process winds it way through the various primaries, the picture will become clearer and the odds will start looking less attractive. You will be most likely to get the best odds on the 2016 Presidential Election by placing your bets sooner rather than later.

Predicting the winner of the 2016 election begins with predicting who will win each party’s nomination. Each party has multiple candidates fighting for the nomination to run as that party’s presidential candidate. Knowing who each party is likely to nominate makes it much easier to accurately predict the eventually winner.

If you seriously plan on betting on the 2016 election, I also recommend a stop by the PredictWise.com presidential election page. That website aggregates data from online bookmakers, betting exchange and prediction markets to show how the money thinks this election will go. Crowd-sourced prediction services such as this one have historically been highly accurate.

Republican Candidates

The republican field is larger and more diverse than perhaps ever before. No fewer than 17 republicans announced their candidacies last year. The set includes a mix of establishment republicans, Constitutional conservatives, social conservatives and independent types. There are former governors, current senators, retired neurosurgeons, business leaders and more to choose from.

As of this writing, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are the frontrunners according to major polls.

Donald Trump

A billionaire businessman and reality TV star, Donald Trump is no stranger to the spotlight. He announced his candidacy in 2015 to the disdain and mockery of establishment types, but has surprised everyone by the strength of his campaign. He needed almost no advertising money to sprint to the forefront thanks to his willingness to say anything at any given moment.

You never know what is about to come out of Trump’s mouth next. Not only has his unpredictability not hurt him, it has actually helped him with a base that is fed up with mealy-mouthed candidates. A good chunk of the republican base sees Trump as an agent of change. He has been dominating the polls for about a year now and continues to defy expectations. If any one candidate represents the republican base’s anger at the establishment, it is Donald Trump.

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz is a senator from Texas who serves as the Constitutional conservative of the bunch. In other words, he argues for limiting the role of government and maintaining a strict adherence to the Constitution as written. He is strongest among small government conservatives and Evangelicals.

Previously in his career, Ted Cruz has worked at the Federal Trade Commission, as an associate deputy general for the US Department of Justice and in private practice as a lawyer. He has argued in front of the US Supreme Court and won major cases that affected the entire nation. Like Trump, Cruz polls well with those who are sick of the establishment. You could call Ted the more reserved, polished version of Trump.

It is likely that Ted Cruz will win the majority of Donald Trump’s supporters if Donald drops out. Likewise, it is likely that Trump will receive the majority of Cruz’s supporters if Cruz falls first.

Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio is the most establishment of the three front runners. He was once seen as a rising prospect for small government conservatism, but has since fallen out of favour among that crowd due to support for amnesty and other questions regarding his “credentials.” However, he still has considerable popular support and remain a viable candidate. Rubio is well funded, speaks very well and rarely shies away from difficult questions.

Even though he sits in the #3 spot for now, a handful of polls have indicated that Rubio would actually fare better than either of the other candidates in a head-to-head race against Hillary Clinton (the likely democrat nominee). Rubio supporters will tell you that Marco Rubio is the most polished of the bunch, most effective at messaging and has the best likelihood of winning the presidency if nominated.

Democrat Candidates

The democratic field is considerably less dynamic with just two major candidates having any real support. This race has mostly come down to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Neither of these two seem all that interested in going to war for the nomination. So far, the democratic nomination process has been relatively tame.

Update: Bernie Sanders has cut into Hillary’s lead quite a bit over the past couple weeks. Between her ongoing e-mail scandal and the looming possibility of an indictment for mishandling classified information, she is spending just as much time defending her record as she is campaigning for the biggest job promotion in US politics.

As of late January, Clinton still leads with 52% support from Democratic primary voters nationwide with Sanders sitting at 37% according to some polls. A recent poll in New Hampshire has put Sanders well ahead with him getting 60% support compared to Hillary’s 33% in that key primary state. They are also now pretty much neck-to-neck in Iowa primary polls. Clinton still leads nationwide and has the advantage among online bookmakers, but Sanders has a significant advantage in momentum.

Since I first published this post on 6 January, Sanders’ odds to win the Presidential election outright have improved from 16/1 to about 7/1. That’s a huge shift in a short amount of time with a long way to go in this election.

Hillary Clinton

Many have long called 2016 “Hillary’s year.” She has held front runner status by a wide margin since announcing and is by far the most likely candidate barring any serious legal issues related to that private e-mail server. Her strength comes from the fact that she resonates with democratic women, has the support of former President Bill Clinton (whom the party views favourably) and a simple lack of other options.

Clinton has a long history in high level politics and that gives her a serious leg up over the competition. She is a former Secretary of State, First Lady and US Senator for New York. Her base will tell you that she is strong on women’s issues, has leadership experience and shares their views.

Bernie Sanders

Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders has run a surprisingly strong insurgency campaign when you consider that Hillary was considered by many prominent pundits a foregone conclusion last year. Lately, he has polled as well as 32% to Hillary’s 53% and has a passionate base. In a way, Sanders represents the portion of the Democratic party that rejects the establishment and distrusts Clinton.

Bernie Sanders is skilled at hitting on the hot button issues that drive young voters and those further to the left than Hillary. He speaks often on social justice issues, income inequality and gun control much to the delight of his constituency. His chances don’t look great at this point, but he too remains viable.

Iowa Caucus Results

The Iowa Caucus represents the first step in each party’s nomination process and counts as the first time “votes” are cast in the long US Presidential race. Candidates from each party campaigned long and hard in Iowa leading up to the 1 February caucus date.

The Iowa Caucus is important for symbolic and momentum reasons, but it isn’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. Multiple Iowa winners in prior elections have failed to earn the nomination, so the results have not yet had a huge impact on the betting odds.

I like to look at the Caucus as a very basic first test in showing candidates’ abilities to campaign, motivate the base and execute plans. The Caucus does not serve as a reliable predictor, but it does give us insight into candidates’ ground games (i.e. door-knocking, making phone calls, holding events and motivating people to get out and go caucus). A strong ground game does not guarantee victory, but a lack of a ground game does make it more difficult to win.

Republican Results

The Republican caucus was dominated by three candidates: Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio each got something in the range of 25% of the vote. Ted Cruz took the top spot with 27.7% while Trump and Rubio nearly split for second place 24.3% to 23.1%.

I haven’t seen the news making a big deal out of this, but Ted Cruz did something special in Iowa. He destroyed all conventional wisdom by adamantly opposing ethanol subsidies and still winning. Iowan farmers receive a lot of money from the federal government through these subsidies, so political advisors have long told their GOP candidates not to threaten the gravy train.

The fact that Ted Cruz won despite his opposition to ethanol indicates that he is doing a good job at selling his vision of small government conservatism. Now we’ll have to see how he does in more populous states that don’t traditionally break for the most conservative candidate of the race.

Donald Trump had a strong second-place showing even though he obviously would have preferred to win the thing. He gave a gracious speech afterwards, thanked Iowa and then declared it time to get up and move on to New Hampshire next. It’s not like he lost by a large margin – Trump will remain a viable candidate.

Marco Rubio had a surprisingly strong showing as well. He outperformed all projections and came very close to knocking Trump off for second place. This should be concerning to Trump, but bolstering to Rubio. Even though he took third place, Rubio gained some much-needed momentum. I suspect Rubio will become the new establishment favourite with Jeb Bush looking ever more hopeless by the day. Having the backing of the entrenched DC types will make Rubio a dangerous candidate moving forward.

  • Ted Cruz: 27.7%
  • Donald Trump: 24.3%
  • Marco Rubio: 23.1%
  • Ben Carson: 9.3%
  • Rand Paul: 4.5%
  • Jeb Bush: 2.8%
  • Carly Fiorina: 1.9%
  • John Kasich: 1.9%
  • Mike Huckabee: 1.8%
  • Chris Christie: 1.8%
  • Rick Santorum: 1.0%

Democrat Results

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders did battle in Iowa. The final tally was so close that it wasn’t until the next morning that officials confirmed Hillary’s win. Bernie Sanders even made some noises about demanding an actual vote count.

Even though Hillary won in Iowa, you could make a strong case for calling this a win for Sanders. He started this whole process as a long shot fringe candidate who was expected, at most, to serve as a stand-in competitor while the Democratic establishment anointed Hillary as the nominee. After roaring forward in the polls over these past months, Sanders now poses a serious threat to Hillary’s goals.

Sanders is also polling well in New Hampshire, which will hold its primary on 9 February. Clinton remains the overwhelming betting favourite for the Democratic nomination despite the close call in Iowa. She polls much better among minority voters (which are not present in large numbers in Iowa) and has a stronger political apparatus backing her.

  • Hillary Clinton: 49.9%
  • Bernie Sanders: 49.6%
  • Martin O’Malley: 0.6%

What Hillary has in her favour: Name recognition, support of the establishment, leads among minorities.

Working against Hillary: scores low on likeability, risk of a criminal indictment over improper handling of classified data

What Sanders has in his favour: Likeability, viewed by many as more authentic, represents a change from the establishment

Working against Sanders: low minority support, lacks establishment backing, too far left for moderate democrats

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