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Political Futures Betting: 2020 Election, Impeachment & More

Donald Trump at a rally in Laconia, NH
Donald Trump's thinks his chances in 2020 are "this big!" Photo by Michael Vadon (Wikimedia Commons).

Political odds! We haven’t done these in a while, because most of us are using sportsbetting as a way to distract ourselves from the cacophony of nonsense that is the political process. Sportsbooks will offer you odds though, and it’s our/my job to find value wherever it can be found, so let’s dig into some of the odds available at Bovada.

Who will win 2020 Presidential Election?

  • Donald Trump: +300
  • Elizabeth Warren: +800
  • Bernie Sanders: +1000
  • Oprah Winfrey: +1000
  • Kamala Harris: +1100
  • Mike Pence: +1200
  • Joe Biden: +1800
  • Mark Zuckerberg: +2000
  • Michelle Obama: +2200
  • Dwayne ‘The Rock” Johnson: +3300
  • Hillary Clinton: +3300
  • Paul Ryan: +4000
  • Marco Rubio: +6600
  • Tim Kaine: +7000

 

I’ve thrown out a lot of names (Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Andrew Cuomo) that mean a lot to wonky political insiders but nothing at all to the public at large. I don’t want you to consider Michael Bloomberg (+5000) because there is not a measurable probability that union workers in Michigan will get excited to vote for the tiny billionaire who’s yelling at them about soda. Of the New York billionaires with strong soda takes on this sheet, Bloomberg is not the pick.

Oprah was +10000 last time we checked, and her speech at the Golden Globes boosted her up to +1000, the same odds as Bernie Sanders. Bernie is still, by most measures, the most popular politician in the country, and all signs point to him running again. If not him, only Kamala Harris (+1100) has come out with a Medicare-for-all platform, a policy that looks like it will be a litmus test for a lot of voters in the Democratic primary.

Honestly, Donald Trump (+300) seems like the value here. Incumbents win presidential elections 70% of the time, and while Donald Trump is a historically unpopular president, the Democrats are widely reviled. Buying a 50% probability seems like solid value, and (at least historically) sportsbooks have a long record of underestimating the political career of Donald Trump.

Will Donald Trump be convicted by the Senate in his 1st term?

  • Yes (+250)

I wish I could get on the other side of this bet. In fact, I think I’m going to start a sportsbook called EmotionalSalve.aq that siphons money from hopeful rubes like this. You can bet on the value of your cryptocurrency to remain high, but you have to deposit that currency, and we only pay out in US dollars.

If the Democrats controlled the Senate, impeachment proceedings would be at the top of their list of priorities. Getting the necessary votes to convict would be a leviathan task, thanks to some pretty simple math. You need a two-thirds majority to convict, and Democrats currently hold 47 seats, 49 if you count Angus King and Bernie Sanders, who are listed as Independents but caucus with the Democrats.

There are 34 senate seats on the ballot in the 2018 midterms. Of those, 26 are currently held by Democrats, and just eight are held by Republicans. Even in the Democrats’ best-case scenario, getting to a two-thirds majority would require flipping at least nine sitting Republican Senators, or convincing enough to stay home that “two thirds of members present” is a manageable number. Considering that a remarkably rebellious Republican senator is one who only votes with Trump 90% of the time, that seems unlikely.

This bet is pure wishful thinking, like Tiger Woods to win the Masters, or anyone but the Patriots to win the Super Bowl. There’s a reason Bovada won’t let you bet “no,” and it’s because “yes” is a sucker’s bet and they know it.

Donald Trump Exit Date

  • 2018: +250
  • 2019: +475
  • 2020 or later: EVEN

The value here is in the terms. Specifically, this one:

“If deceased during incumbency, wagers will be voided.”

That’s like saying all wagers are voided if Alabama loses by missing a field goal. Death is one of the most likely scenarios that would take Donald Trump out of office, competing with retirement (from boredom) and retirement (to start a television show).

Barring death (which Bovada will do for you!) or resignation, it is overwhelmingly likely that the next President will be inaugurated on January 20th, 2021. We’ve established how difficult it will be for impeachment to happen, and he’s not going to resign out of shame. His lawyer paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 to remain quiet about something and it’s not even really a story. The ship on maintaining the “dignity of the office” sailed a long time ago.

I can hear you yelling “but the Russia investigation!” at the screen. I have two responses to this: I got real excited about the Valerie Plame investigation, and nothing came of that. Secondly, the cossacks work for, and have always worked for, the Czar. An FBI investigation into the president is more likely to result in a political purge of the FBI than a purge of the White House. The results of any investigation still have to be run through the political filter of the US Senate, and there’s no law enforcement agency that sits above the president on any flowchart you’d like to draw.

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Alex spent so long feigning an interest in baseball that he became our go-to guy for sports nobody else here knows about. Tennis player, golf nut, rugby fan and washed out half-miler. Career .600 against Ryan Murphy in NBA Jam: Tournament Edition.