Anyone Else Betting When Hillary Will Die?

I had to smile when reading the article ‘Betting on Politics: Who’s got the Biggest Bets on Who Will be the Next US President?’, by Bloomberg Markets magazine, Lisa Baillie (June 21, 2016). Although I have not met Lisa (yet!), perusing her article was like getting a peek into the future.

From the very beginning, Hillary Clinton has been the clear favorite for the 2016 US presidential elections. Perhaps this is because she is the first woman to ever hold the office, or perhaps it’s because she’s associated with numerous high profile political appointments and Bill Clinton’s successful presidency. Whatever the reason, the smart money has always been on Hillary.

Then, out of nowhere, Trump burst on the scene and ran a campaign focused on making America great again. Not only did he make a bold statement about putting “America First”, but his outsider status and business acumen drew support from those who felt Washington had lost its way.

It’s fair to say that just about everyone had Hillary Clinton in their sights and few were prepared to settle for a second choice. Nevertheless, when the voting booths closed, Hillary had not yet been pronounced the winner, forcing everyone, including myself, to bet on the possibility of a Trump presidency.

After Hillary’s victory, I placed a small wager on her to become the next US president. Since then I’ve been hedging my bets, currently laying 50/50 on Hillary to win and Trump to lose. However, with the recent rise of Bernie Sanders, I’m considering raising my wager to just about every possible outcome.

What happens if Hillary wins? Will her victory be a fluke, or will she truly become the first woman president? Will Trump pull off an even bigger upset and become America’s next president? These are just some of the questions I’ll be answering in the coming months.

Meanwhile, those who bet on politics make their money by analyzing polls and handicapping the odds on who will win. Inevitably, people who place bets on politics become well-versed in the ins and outs of each candidate’s chances of success and can often be found fielding calls from wagering friends who want to know the latest odds. Some even take their knowledge of political betting too far, handicapping games and analyzing results, creating a unique niche for experts like them.

Over the years, the pool of people who have placed wagers on US politics has grown by leaps and bounds. Not only does the 2020 elections have the potential to make or break political betting, but so does the entire state of Georgia. The Republican candidate for governor there recently set a single day wagering record, raking in $2.9 million in 48 hours. Although the odds of a successful gambler are pretty slim, it’s still possible to make a tidy sum of money from politics.

Why Hillary?

First off, let’s examine Hillary’s chances of winning the 2016 US presidential election. As mentioned above, she is the clear favorite to take the office, with the consensus being that she has a better chance of being elected than her closest competition, Trump, by a wide margin. According to FiveThirtyEight, Hillary has a 68% chance of winning the election. That’s better than Trump (57%), John Kasich (56%), and Ted Cruz (38%).

Hillary’s favorability rating is way above average, with a 63% approval rating among voters, compared to Trump’s 37%. In addition, Public Opinion Strategies recently found that Hillary Clinton had a 90% approve rating among registered voters, compared to only 8% who disapproved. These results bode well for Hillary, especially considering the fact that she is now the target of an FBI investigation, which makes her candidacy appear more vulnerable. When it comes to the overall election, I’d put my money on Hillary.

Will Trump Win?

Now let’s examine Trump’s chances of winning the 2016 US presidential election. Despite his recent surge in popularity, the odds of him winning are still long. For starters, he is now the target of an FBI investigation, which, if it turns out to be anything more than political bias, could pose an obstacle to his campaign.

Trump’s approval rating currently sits at 40%, according to Public Opinion Strategies. Among his base of supporters, however, he receives high marks: 76% approve of his job performance. Nevertheless, that’s still nowhere near enough votes to win the presidency. Trump’s favorability rating is lower than that of Hillary and the majority of voters have an either unfavorable or neutral opinion of him. While many were initially impressed with the outspoken nature of Trump’s campaign, his unfavorable rating points to a candidate who is likely to be polarizing.

A recent CBS News poll also showed that although many Americans have an unfavorable view of Trump, they don’t really know what to expect from him once he takes office. According to the poll, 23% of voters have a favorable opinion of the businessman while 55% view him negatively. In other words, Trump is still somewhat of an unknown quantity and, as a result, his odds of winning remain low.

What If Bernie Wins?

Now let’s examine Bernie Sanders’ chances of winning the 2016 US presidential election. Bernie is the subject of a lot of speculation these days because no one knows for sure if he’ll enter the 2020 presidential race. If he does, it will be an open competition between him and Hillary for the Democratic nomination. To borrow a phrase from the 2008 election, this would be a battle between a “New York senator” and “former Secretary of State” for the Democratic nomination, with both seeing their profiles rise as a result. If Bernie decides not to run, Hillary would be the clear favorite among Democrats.

Bernie’s approval rating currently sits at 50%, according to Public Opinion Strategies. However, even though he is slightly above average in terms of voter opinion, he still has a lot of work to do if he’s going to beat Hillary. Since announcing his candidacy, Bernie has seen a boost in his support among independent voters and white voters without a college degree. If these groups decide to back Bernie in large numbers, he has a good chance of becoming president.

Will Another Candidate Surpass Hillary?

Finally, let’s examine the candidacy of another candidate, who is currently polling above Hillary and Trump, for the 2016 US presidential election. This candidate, Jill Stein, is the Green Party candidate as well as the vice presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party. Although she polled poorly in the early stages of the 2016 election, gaining only 0.7% of the vote, her notoriety as the Green Party candidate has given her a boost in terms of name recognition. This, in turn, has given her a better shot at winning the White House.

According to Public Opinion Strategies, Jill Stein is the second choice of 8% of voters, which, considering she is the Green Party candidate, is no small feat. Unfortunately for the average voter, though, most polls have shown that she is still somewhat of an unknown quantity and, as a result, her odds of winning remain low.

With all of this in mind, it’s clear that no one really knows for sure who will be the next president of the United States. There are a host of wild cards that could shape the outcome of this year’s election, from the coronavirus to John Bolton’s mustache to the fate of Bernie Sanders. No one is truly safe from the electoral college, which is designed to prevent any individual state from being overruled by a majority of voters in other states. Nevertheless, as of right now, Hillary is still the heavy favorite to win and my money is on her.