Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders Lead Democrat Nominee Betting

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders Lead Democrat Nominee Betting
© PA
Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren (L-R) pictured prior to the Democratic Presidential Debate (© PA Images)

When the race to become Democrat Nominee began, a prevailing narrative swiftly emerged.

Obsessed with diversity, the base would prefer a woman or person of colour. Ticking both boxes, Kamala Harris was the early favourite in the politics betting markets.

A fortnight from the start of the primaries, that narrative has somewhat imploded. Harris has already quit and two white men in their seventies are leading the pack. Joe Biden is best priced 2/1 compared to 5/2 about Bernie Sanders with Ladbrokes

Opening Caucuses Remain Wide-Open

Beware assuming this is a two-horse race, though. It is early days and there may be many more twists and turns to come during the primaries. In the first race – the Iowa Caucuses – more than half of voters are still undecided and at least five candidates retain hopes of winning.

One way of looking at the Democrat field is in terms of lanes – specifically progressives versus moderates. The former lane consists of Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – who was favourite earlier and is still very much competitive. The Massachusetts Senator is currently 7/1 with Coral.

The ‘moderate’ lane is more open. Biden is in pole position, due to his polls, but doubts remain over how he’ll fare in the primaries. As former VP to Barack Obama, he may be benefiting from name recognition and that association, particularly among the African-American voters who will be pivotal when the race hits the South.

Biden May Need To Make Early Impact

However, Biden is far from certain to win any of the three races before they reach South Carolina on February 29. Sanders is currently favourite to win all three – Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

The historic significance of these opening primaries cannot be overstated – it is very rare for a successful nominee to not win either IA or NH. If Biden does lose the first three, he could fall away. The substantial ‘anti-Sanders’ block among Democrat voters may look for an alternative.

Pete Buttigieg is one potential beneficiary. The Mayor of South Bend Indiana – an openly gay veteran from the Afghan conflict – has polled well in Iowa. He has big problems connecting with black voters though, which could limit his advance. Amy Klobuchar is still fighting hard in this moderate lane, without seeing much reward in the polls. Nevertheless, a strong early show for either would significantly boost their profile.

Warren Well-Placed To Be Unity Candidate

The most plausible alternative is Warren. Earlier, it seemed she was poised to win among progressives but Sanders proved surprisingly resilient, winning prized endorsements from surrogates such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

However, Warren’s appeal to Democrats goes wider than the socialist wing. Sure, she attracts criticism from moderates over plans for public healthcare but she is popular across the party and is shrewdly pitching herself as the ‘unity candidate’.

That she has become embroiled in a minor spat with Sanders by claiming he told her a woman couldn’t win, helps. In the Trump era, women are central to the Democrat fightback. We saw this in their mid-term victory, driven by a historic number of female candidates and a critical swing among white, suburban women.

Last night saw an important development, as the New York Times broke with convention to endorse two candidates – Warren and Klobuchar, representing what they call the ‘radical’ and ‘realist’ wings of the party. It is notable that they swerved the front-runners and opted for two women.

Be wary of early polls and their ability to estimate these primary electorates. The backdrop is totally different to 2016, when Obama was president and the GOP race dominated media coverage.

Expect a massive rise in turnout, especially from the women, minorities and young voters to have flocked to the Democrats since the last election. Trump motivates opponents like no candidate in living memory.

Electability Could Become All-Important

Plenty will never have participated in a Democrat primary before, who are simply determined to get Trump out. They will likely place electability above all else. At present, that points to Biden but much could change. Indeed, none of the front-runners come across as very strong candidates for November.

This is behind the thinking of Michael Bloomberg – the dark horse, heavily gambled into 7/1. He has spent a fortune buying ads for later in the race, when most of the delegates are up for grabs. The former (Republican) Mayor of New York City is committed to spending $1BN of his own money to beat Trump, whether he is the candidate or not.

Bloomberg winning the Democrat nomination would be an extraordinary development but these are extraordinary times. Even candidates who aren’t on any ballots are still relatively popular in the betting. The best odds about Hillary Clinton, for example, are just 22/1.

How could this bizarre eventuality come about? If no candidate has 51% of delegates after the first ballot at the party convention, other names could possibly be added into the mix.

In 2016, similar gambles on unconsidered candidates and a brokered convention for the Republican contest gathered steam. There is no election like a US election and that applies double to the betting.