Democratic Candidate Odds: Where Do They Stand Post Nevada?

Our Political Expert Paul Krishnamurty’s delivers his betting update after the Nevada Democratic Caucus results.

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.

What history tells us

Having constantly noted the parallels between the 2016 Republican Primary and the 2020 Democrat race now seems a good time to compare the state of play. Donald Trump lost Iowa, won New Hampshire, before a thumping victory in Nevada confirmed his clear front-runner status. Bernie Sanders has also started 2/1/1 and is now odds-on to be the Democrat Nominee.

Trump, however, was still a long way off winning majority support, owing his lead to more establishment rivals carving each other up in the early races. Few believed he would win a majority of delegates – the odds about a contested convention shortened to $1.25. Sanders is similarly expected to fall short. In the 2020 version of that market, No Overall Majority is a $1.80 chance.

Heading to South Carolina, the establishment lane carried on fighting among themselves, enabling Trump to extend his lead going into Super Tuesday. The subsequent mini-fightback once Ted Cruz emerged as the main challenger was too little, too late.

What i've backed

There was even what seemed a critical endorsement in SC, when then Governor Nikki Haley went for Marco Rubio. This time, Wednesday’s announcement from James Clyburn – the most prominent black Congressman in the state – is hotly awaited. I expect it to go for Biden and turn the race in his favour.

South Carolina may, therefore, be the moment where the parallels depart. Whereas Trump was runaway favourite for SC at this late stage, the betting implies a virtually even match between Sanders and Biden. The latter traded at just $1.15 earlier and has seen a vast poll lead disintegrate, in accordance with his national decline.

Nevertheless, Biden remains ahead by an average 3% and, following Clyburn’s likely endorsement, will in my view start favourite. He has lost voters to Tom Steyer, who has been throwing fortunes at ads on black TV stations. I think this billionaire could fade from the high-teens once the other campaigns get a look in. He’s $130.0 to win and blow everybody’s calculations up.

I’ve backed Biden at $2 for South Carolina – my first positive interest on the former VP – and $16 for the nomination.

The latter is with a view to laying back at shorter over the next few weeks. Why the change of heart? Simply, events leading up to and including Nevada.

No question, Sanders emerges well ahead after a massive win. He has an emerging narrative, as the candidate who can inspire the extra voters that Democrats always need in general elections – young people and minorities. Latinos registered and voted in much higher numbers than 2016, overwhelmingly for Bernie, as did the young.

Bernie is vulnerable

The campaign can also point to polls against Trump that are at least comparable and usually better than alternatives. Once the reality of Nevada hit home with early voting figures, I backed Sanders for the presidency at $6 but have since laid all the stake back at $4.20 to leave a ‘risk-free position’.

I do believe he can beat Trump and, given that potential turnout boost, am open to the idea that he proves their best bet. However, he is a huge risk, which explains Trump’s support. There are decades of baggage, extreme positions and embarrassing footage for opponents to exploit.

For some reason, Democrat rivals have been slow to attack Sanders’ record – on guns, race, Cuba, USSR. Now armed with Michael Bloomberg’s mighty war chest, that is changing. Bernie will have it all thrown at him over the coming weeks. My instinct is he will ride it out and emerge as the nominee but now is probably not the best moment to be onside.

Three other critical things happened last week. First Bloomberg endured a nightmare debate debut, which has seen his odds drift markedly. I was never convinced and think he’ll fade away quickly after Super Tuesday. Second, by finishing clear second, Biden proved he will fare better in more diverse states than IA and NH.

Third, the failure of Buttigieg, Warren or Klobuchar to beat him there strongly suggests they won’t in the South. By winning or at least thrashing that trio in SC, he’ll probably begin to hoover up the ‘moderate lane’. There are numerous good targets on Super Tuesday. He’s also the likeliest beneficiary of any Bloomberg collapse.


Nevertheless their combined presence helps the front-runner. Five plausible candidates within a few percentage points, vying to emerge as the anti-Sanders after Super Tuesday. It will be hard for any single candidate to get the 30% required to win a race and not straightforward getting 15% and gain delegates.

Is there a route for Warren? I’m clinging to distant hope about earlier predictions that she would emerge as the unity candidate. As these recent head-to-head polls, she would fare better against Sanders than the rest.

That is because, unlike the others, Warren can match his progressive ‘medals’. She was prominent at Occupy Wall Street, having built her reputation taking on the banks and as a consumer champion. She supports Medicare for All. Unlike Bernie, Warren is actually a Democrat Senator and has earned respect across the party.

However once again, it is hard to see how that path towards a straight Sanders v Warren race emerges. She isn’t going to compete seriously in SC so would need a big win or two on Super Tuesday. Even then, she needs the field to winnow quicker than likely. On the plus side her debate performance, excoriating Bloomberg on several occasions, earned an uptick to second in national polls.

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