Democratic Candidate Odds: Where Do They Stand After Super Tuesday?

Our Political Expert Paul Krishnamurty’s delivers his betting update after the Super Tuesday Democratic Results results.

Check out his update after the Nevada Results here.

Check out his update after the Iowa results here.

Paul breaks down what he has backed from here and how he is approaching the market.

How did the odds swing so much?

Perhaps the most famous saying in British politics is that “A week is a long time in politics”. Rarely has such a phrase been more apt with regards a US Election.

Previously, I observed the remarkable parallels between this Democrat primary and the Republican race of 2016, but how I was backing Joe Biden in expectation of those parallels diverging at the South Carolina primary. It really couldn’t have worked out better.

Not only did Biden deliver on that even money bet by a whopping 29% but that result transformed the dynamics of the race just in time for Super Tuesday. From odds $16.0 a few days before SC, the former VP is now rated 87% likely to be the nominee at odds of $1.15.

What happened? Simply the projected developments played out much quicker than anyone expected. Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar surrendered their slim ST hopes and endorsed Biden, who consequently hoovered up the ‘moderate’, ‘anyone but Bernie’ lane and their supporters.

Results are still being counted from California so we don’t know the exact delegate count but as this latest estimate shows, Biden has overtaken Sanders. Even the most optimistic forecasts predicted he would still be short at this stage.

How will Bernie recover?

A remarkable turnaround but could there be another? After all, recent political betting history tells us to back outsiders. I’m not convinced. Besides some dramatic implosion due to a scandal or sudden health problems, it is hard to see how Biden loses from here.

It is clear how Team Sanders will try. Scorched earth tactics, amplified by an aggressive online movement. As with other rivals past and present, Biden is painted as a ‘centrist’ – a ‘neoliberal’ corporate sellout, in hock to Wall Street. A supporter of the Iraq invasion and racist policing. The beneficiary of an establishment stitch-up and rigged primary.

Honesty has left the building. The BernieBros are already replicating the language of the Trump campaign, even retweeting their edited videos, to claim Biden has dementia or, in their co-ordinated messaging ‘cognitive decline’.

 Will it work? If the plan is to make Biden unelectable, perhaps. We saw how Clinton was damaged from the Democrat civil war in 2016. However, I’ll be amazed if it wins Sanders the nomination. These tactics strike me like a furious backlash to a shocking defeat, rather than acknowledge what really went wrong.

The Mainstream Voters

First, the establishment stitch-up theory hardly rings true when Sanders was able to vastly outspend Biden. The big money was spent by Mike Bloomberg – to virtually no effect. Biden won by dominating the black vote in SC (essential to any Democrat candidate), thus establishing himself as the best-placed moderate.  

My strong conclusion is that these results demonstrated the party’s determination to beat Donald Trump. Fairly or not, the Democrat mainstream didn’t trust Sanders to get it done. They made an (admittedly dubious) assumption that Biden can.

The Sanders narrative – that he would attract extra voters such as the young, previous abstainers, Hispanics – didn’t materialise. Turnout did rise significantly on 2016, but it was powered by the same types that delivered the best mid-term Democrat win since Watergate and numerous special election successes. 

The real change in the American electorate since 2016 involves the newly energised suburbs. Moderate, independent (especially female) voters that historically went Republican but who cannot abide Trump. If they stay blue in November, a victory for the incumbent becomes very, very difficult.

The Polls

As the subsequent endorsement of his rivals confirmed, mainstream Democrats evidently believe Biden can appeal to those voters. The former VP is seen as a safe pair of hands. A moderate symbol of the popular Obama administration. I simply cannot see how the more radical, progressive wing can secure a majority of delegates. Indeed Biden is now a mere $1.15$ chance to win a majority.

One crucial unknown is Elizabeth Warren and her supporters. She has so far resisted the urge to endorse either man. If policies are the criteria, one might assume she will send a signal by endorsing Sanders and thus potentially changing the maths again. 

However, it would be a mistake to think of her support as a bloc. Polls in fact suggest they are split down the middle between Biden/Sanders.  

Moreover, Warren voters are (perhaps more than any of the original factions) driven by party unity. When interviewed by Rachel Maddow, her criticism of Sanders online supporters (who went after her when leading) was notable. If backing Sanders means blowing up the party convention as in 2016, I doubt Team Warren will have any part of it.

Big markets to come

In the meantime, there are plenty of more exciting primary betting markets. This week sees ‘Super Tuesday 2’, with six states in play – Michigan, Washington, North Dakota, Idaho, Mississippi and Missouri. Biden is virtually unbackable for the last two Southern targets at $1.02 and $1.03 but the other four are competitive.

The most significant is Michigan – where Sanders pulled off an enormous upset against Clinton in 2016. Yet the signals are grim in a state where, as in the South, the Democrat electorate is largely black. Biden was ahead even before all the withdrawals, whose supporters will overwhelmingly go to him. Odds of $1.15 are a fair reflection.

The other three could all go either way on current signals. Sanders is favourite for Idaho at $1.87 but outsider at $2.1 and $2.5 respectively for Washington and North Dakota. He won all three of these states in 2016, so anything less than a repeat would represent a further nail in his electoral coffin. This race could be all over bar the shouting by Thursday.

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