One of the most rib-tickling descriptions of the 2016 US Presidential race so far stated that Hillary Clinton stands a good chance of winning "simply because she isn’t Donald Trump". That might be a slightly outlandish claim, but given the movement in the bookmakers’ odds following the first debate, it might not be wholly inaccurate.
In Monday’s first debate of the campaign ahead of the 8th November polls, Trump was at his brash, bullish and occasionally downright rude best. He caused outrage by mocking a former Miss Universe’s weight gain and was consistently outfoxed by the sharper Clinton on matters ranging from Trump’s alleged tax evasion to comments he made regarding Barack Obama’s birthplace.
The issue of racial tension could prove to be the key in this popularity contest. Trump has continually asserted his belief in the ‘stop and frisk’ system that was constitutionally outlawed, with Clinton instead focusing on the apparent discrimination in the country against black and Hispanic males.
When discussing economic issues, the debate turned to Mr Trump’s own personal tax matters, with Clinton insinuating that the Republican candidate has not paid income tax since electing to run for presidency:
"For 40 years everyone running for president has released their tax returns. Maybe he doesn't want the American people to know he has paid nothing in federal income taxes."
Trump responded with an ill-advised retort:
"That makes me smart."
All of the above has caused a significant shift in the odds for US presidential betting, as reported by many of the leading bookmakers. Coral have Clinton into a best price of 4/9 from 4/7 in their non-sports betting markets, with Trump trailing behind at 7/4; the longest price he has been in a number of weeks.
That theme has been commonplace across bookmakers, with bet365 pegging the Democratic candidate at 2/5 and her opponent at an industry-best 2/1 in their own specials betting offering.
Of course, politics and political betting in particular are highly volatile. Earlier in 2016 it seemed that Boris Johnson was a shoe-in to be the next Prime Minister following David Cameron’s resignation in the wake of the Brexit vote. At one point, ‘BoJo’ was trading at odds on.
But after being rather crudely stabbed in the back by ‘Leave’ running mate Michael Gove, Johnson plummeted in the market and eventually withdrew from the race altogether. Making any bold predictions as far as specials betting are concerned – particularly those involving politics – is fraught with danger and ‘egg on face’ potential.
One of the most startling observations from the fall-out of the Brexit vote was how completely wrong the opinion polls were. These had recorded a comfortable ‘Remain’ verdict and yet when the official results were announced a marginal 52%-48% majority for Leave.
A similar theme occurred in the Scottish Independence Referendum vote too, with the polls suggesting that the majority of Scots were likely to vote Yes – and yet No won by a majority of 55-45.
The bookmakers use the opinion polls as a way of setting their odds, which does place a quantifiable measure of favouritism in one side over another. But these prices are flexible to the ever-changing landscape, while opinions polls don’t necessarily capture the fluctuating mood of the voting public.
The trends suggest that the bookies are very rarely wrong; even though they had Remain as their favourite even on Brexit polling day, the shift in price towards Leave – especially on the betting exchange sites – was a reflection of the nation’s collective thought process.
Research has been conducted into the subject, with Professor Vaughan Williams concluding that the bookmakers are far more accurate in predicting trends in their political betting than the polls. The General Election in the UK of 2015 was a fine case in point:
"The betting market was unmoved even by last-minute polls indicating a late swing to Labour. The polls were indicating most seats for Labour, while the betting markets had the Conservatives as short as 6 to 1 on favourites to win most seats."
This theory has been confirmed by poll results dating back decades, with the experts asserting that Labour would win a handsome majority at the 1992 General Election. The Conservatives, as predicted by the bookmakers, ended up with a seven percentage point victory.
So it’s good news for Democrats and Hillary Clinton supporters – for now. The next set of debates could change the face of the US presidential betting market, however. For all the up-to-date political betting markets, visit bet365' today!