- Donald Trump’s odds to win the 2020 presidential election took a hit when he was diagnosed with COVID-19
- Trump’s odds have not bounced back as quickly as he recovered from his infection
- Trump is sitting at +151 on average; his odds have not been worse since February 2019
When news broke that Donald Trump had contracted coronavirus, the President’s odds to win reelection on Nov. 3rd disappeared. Once oddsmakers had a chance to recalculate, Trump’s average 2020 election odds faded from +129 to +148.
Some pundits expected a bounce back in the ensuing days, particularly if Trump was able to recover quickly.
The man appears to have recovered; his odds have not.
2020 Presidential Election Odds
Odds as of Oct 6th, 2020.
Despite being out of hospital, Trump is now a +151 bet, on average, to beat Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who sits at -179.
LIVE on @MSNBC:
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) October 4, 2020
What Do the Odds Actually Mean?
Every set of odds can be converted to probability.
Accepting that the outcome of the 2020 election is a binary proposition – i.e. there is a 100% chance that either Trump or Biden will win – the betting market currently gives Donald Trump just a 38.3% chance to win come the first Tuesday in November.
The other 61.7% is squarely in Biden’s corner.
How Bad Is This for Trump?
Relatively speaking, it’s terrible.
Trump’s reelection odds have fluctuated mightily over the past four years. A government shutdown, impeachment, and a devastating nationwide pandemic will do that. But +151 is rarified air. His odds have only been this bad once in the last 20 months (July 2020).
From December 2019 until early June 2020, Trump was the odds-on favorite. On February 19th, 2020, he was the -214 chalk. At that point, the betting market was giving him roughly a 70% chance to win reelection.
How Will the Odds Change?
There are good arguments on both sides of the ledger.
On the one hand, Trump has reached a new nadir. He has bungled the pandemic, alienated women, and completely mishandled the BLM protests. It is hard to see how, in the next four weeks, he could do more to lose confidence. On top of that, while he still trails Biden in basically every meaningful poll, his national numbers have leveled off in the 41-43% range.
57% of likely voters say they back Democratic nominee Joe Biden and 41% back Donald Trump, according to a new nationwide CNN Poll conducted by SSRS entirely after the first debate and mostly after the President's Covid-19 infection was made public. https://t.co/gPpaJJJvmk
— CNN (@CNN) October 6, 2020
On the other hand, this is the betting world. One common trend in sports betting is that the majority of the “public” (i.e. novice bettors) doesn’t wager until relatively close to the event. Another common trend is that the public loves to back the favorite.
If those general betting tenets hold true, the market will see a large amount of late money on Biden, which will lead to Trump’s odds being at or near their worst right before election day.