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Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Odds Get Shorter as 2020 Approaches

Hillary Clinton
2016 Presidential runner-up Hillary Clinton. Photo by Gage Skidmore (flickr) [CC License].
  • 2020 Presidential Election Odds have Hillary Clinton at shorter odds than we’ve seen
  • One question: why?
  • Follow up: how?

We’ve update our 2020 Presidential Election Odds tracker, and we noticed something interesting: Hillary Clinton’s odds are getting shorter. That’s a bizarre development, to say the least, so let’s dig into the odds sheet and see what’s going on.

2020 Presidential Election Odds

Who Will Win the 2020 US Presidential Election? Odds at Bovada
Donald Trump +150
Beto O’Rourke +1000
Kamala Harris +1000
Bernie Sanders +1200
Joe Biden +1400
Cory Booker +2000
Elizabeth Warren +2000
Mike Pence +2000
Hillary Clinton +3000

You can see the full history of these odds at the 2020 US Presidential Election Odds Tracker.

Hillary Clinton’s Odds Are Getting Shorter

The biggest movement we’ve seen on the odds sheet (other than Beto O’Rourke surging) is Hillary Clinton’s steady advance. On November 7th, her average odds were around +7200. On December 4th, she was at +6000 in average odds, and +3000 on Bovada.

This is… interesting, to say the least. Hillary Clinton was last seen losing a lay-up election to the least popular presidential candidate in modern history before absconding to the woods. Her biggest move in November was writing an op-ed in The Guardian urging European leaders to make the right wing go away by giving them what they want.

We have pretty good data to suggest that Hillary Clinton would not win an election against Donald Trump. She’s also an almost universally reviled 71-year old. These odds are not long enough.

This all probably boils down to name recognition, which is a huge thing for political futures. Hillary probably gets a lot more support from bettors than she deserves because she is a very big name, in the same way Rickie Fowler gets more support than he deserves.

If Not Hillary, then Who?

Her advancing odds probably have something to do with the lack of obvious Democratic front-runner for 2020. Beto O’Rourke, who Bovada lists among the Democratic favorites, lists “losing an election to Ted Cruz” on his less-than-impressive impressive resume. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Joe Biden are all big names in the Democratic party but lack progressive support or a discernible platform to run on. Bernie Sanders is one of the most popular politicians in the country, but lacks support from the Democratic establishment.

It’s not quite time yet, but if the Democrats don’t find someone they can run with soon they’ll have a hard time winning in 2020. Say what you want about Donald Trump, but he’s the most established brand name in American public life and he can get millions out to vote for him tomorrow.

Donald Trump is the Value Bet

If anyone on this odds sheet is a “value pick,” it’s Donald Trump. Incumbents enjoy a sizeable (if shrinking) advantage in general elections, winning reelection 70% of the time. The late George H. W. Bush was the most recent president to serve only one term.

Incumbents enjoy a sizeable advantage in general elections, winning reelection 70% of the time.

This all changes if the economy tanks, of course. If a recession hits before the 2020 elections (and it’s likely to), a lot of that incumbent advantage disappears, and even a saxophone-wielding weirdo from Arkansas can win. In that situation, I’d take Bernie Sanders as the pick, as he’s one of the only candidates on this odds sheet with a coherent economic policy that meaningfully challenges the status quo.

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Alex studied political science in university but spent most of that time watching college football. Covered sports betting for this site from 2017-2019. Avid tennis player, golf nut, and motorsports nerd. Career .600 against Ryan Murphy in NBA Jam: Tournament Edition.