Democrats Odds: Where do we stand post New Hampshire?

Following Bernie Sanders’ narrow New Hampshire victory, the Political Pundits reassess the Democrats odds.

Market movers

When writing last week’s analysis, five Democrat candidates were trading lower than $100 for the presidency. There are still five but we’ve had a swap – Amy Klobuchar’s odds have crashed to $80 from around $270, while Elizabeth Warren is out to $200. From odds-on favourite in October, she’s now dismissed at $140 to win the nomination. An incredible fall from grace considering she remains very popular within the party!

Indeed, this market has already emulated previous dramatic primary cycles. The golden rule when playing them – lay the early favourites – has paid off. If the lesson wasn’t learnt then or in 2016, remember moving forward – the market isn’t necessarily an accurate predictor, especially early on.

Sanders far from convincing

Bernie’s 27% vote share in New Hampshire was just enough to win but underwhelming. In a two-horse race with Clinton, he scored 60% in 2016. NH neighbours his state of Vermont so this was effectively a home match. He now heads to a series of more diverse states where he was mostly hammered in 2016.

Critically, fellow North-East progressive Warren also tanked in NH. Their combined share was 36%, compared to 53% for candidates branded as ‘moderate’. Scant evidence, therefore, of a yearning among Democrats for the Sanders revolution.

The fact he seems assured of a solid 20%-plus base everywhere means he’ll win races and pick up plenty of delegates – he’s a mere $1.43 to win the next race in Nevada. I’ve laid at those odds. Victory is far from certain, especially given potential problems with the Culinary Workers Union.

I very much doubt Sanders can gain the 1990 pledged delegates that would amount to a majority, thus avoiding a ‘contested convention’. Or, for that matter, getting over the line with help from Warren, now her campaign is struggling.

It is very similar to the GOP race in 2016. Then Trump looked set to fall short of a majority, yet managed to bring the party into line behind his candidacy. Sanders may ultimately do so but there’s no evidence to date. If the moderate majority eventually coalesce around a single alternative, they can win.

Bloomberg Surging

Meanwhile, the Bloomberg gamble gathers pace, assuming he will be that single alternative. Without appearing in debates or campaigning in the early states, he’s now second-favourite for both the nomination and the presidency. Note the implication – bettors believe he has a better chance against Trump than Sanders.

I agree with that analysis but it remains an open question. It is too early to make a confident prediction of how he will fare in actual elections, affect dynamics at the party convention or amongst Democrats moving forward.

True, his brilliant ad-campaign has already achieved cut-through in national polls and Super Tuesday states. However, to reiterate, early primary polls are unreliable. If Bloomberg’s cut-through is merely via ads, might it be superficial? He has barely been road-tested and after decades in politics, there will be baggage. Expect criticism of racially insensitive language and policies as NY Mayor, for example.

Is there a clear leader?

Meanwhile, there are races where Bloomberg isn’t competitive to be run. Sanders and the rest will rack up delegates. Supporters of withdrawn candidates will split several ways. It seems unlikely that, after Super Tuesday, anyone will be on course for a majority.

At that point, there is incentive for rivals to stay in and prevent the race becoming a head-to-head. There will still be two-thirds of delegates left to be won, a small field, and influence to exert at the convention. Time and space to win the argument and emerge as the compromise candidate.

What now for Joe Biden?

For now at least, Joe Biden is taking a substantial share of national and state polls. If he fails to win South Carolina – he’s ceded favouritism there to Sanders – the former VP will soon quit. That twenty-odd percent will transfer to other candidates.

In the first two states, Biden’s collapse aided Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. In national polls, Bloomberg has been the main beneficiary. Were he to endorse one of that trio, it would have a profound effect.

Buttigieg surge awaits

Considering his position in the race, Buttigieg’s odds are pretty generous. Using historic indicators that winning one of the first two primaries is essential, he’s in a head-to-head with Sanders. He outperformed expectations on both occasions. However, unless those wins yield a bounce in the wider country – they haven’t yet – the next month will be hard.

Mayor Pete needs at least a top-two finish in Nevada to carry any momentum into the South, where his well-documented problems with black voters – reinforced by attacks on his record on police racism in South Bend, Indiana – will likely cost him dearly. So too the derisory attacks on his inexperience from Biden and Klobuchar.

Prepare for the Klobucharge

Trading at $80 for the presidency, Amy K is the best value at current odds. She is in the race on merit and, in my long-held view, Trump’s nightmare opponent. A strong, moderate, pragmatic woman from the Mid-West, impressively re-elected in a swing state edging towards Trump.

She has come from nowhere in the polls, apparently off the back of several good debates. Her attack on Buttigieg was widely replayed. Klobuchar’s ad-spend is miniscule compared to several rivals behind her in the race. Money is now flowing and she’s introducing herself to the country. With Warren in decline, she could soon be the sole woman left in the race.

We are heading towards a divisive battle at the convention. A disaster for Democrats when unity is essential. Expect moves towards and speculation about a compromise candidate. Klobuchar is perfect for the role and arguably the most electable. Back her now at $80 for president.

BACK – Amy Kloubuchar for Next President at $80

about the author

Paul Krishnamurty, aka The Political Gambler, has been betting on elections for over a decade. A politics graduate from the University of Hull, he also works as the chief political analyst for Betfair UK.

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