Never before have we seen a bigger driver of political betting than Donald Trump’s blockbuster drama. Seasons one and two saw an outsider become the candidate and defy conventional wisdom to become president. Season three involved a chaotic presidency, culminating in humiliating mid-term defeat.
Entering season four, Trump is drowning in legal jeopardy. His ratings are historically awful and re-election will require an extraordinary turnaround. Many doubt series five will ever be made as the FBI encircle the White House, his family and finances. Is this the beginning of the end?
2019 will be a year like no other. The Russia scandal is bigger than Watergate and escalating fast. Having written about it since before Trump was elected, none of the revelations are surprising.
Team Trump’s Kremlin connections were plain to see throughout and the denials widely debunked. Biographers demonstrated long before he entered politics how Trump’s finances would never withstand the scrutiny of office.
That will intensify once the Democrats assume control of the House of Representatives in January. They will investigate everything, using committees and subpoena power to release ever more into the public domain. There is already enough from indictments and plea deals to conclude that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report will be damning.
Punters face four questions. Do they share my analysis, or Trump’s claims of a witch-hunt? Will Mueller be sacked or silenced? Will the result be impeachment or resignation? Or can he survive to win a second term in 2020?
We can bet on every stage. Paddy Power offer 4/1 that Trump will leave office in 2019. Coral’s 9/4 that he will be impeached or resign before completing a full-term. 888 go 7/4 about the House of Representatives impeaching Trump in 2019. Beyond that, Betway rate him 1-3 for the 2020 Republican Nomination while Bet365 are 7/4 to win the 2020 Presidential Election.
Check the rules. The House has a Democrat majority and therefore the numbers to impeach Trump - thus landing the bet with 888. Removing him from office, however, requires two-thirds of a Republican controlled Senate. Unlikely.
Here’s my prediction. Trump will try to neuter Mueller by sacking Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. That will either fail or spark an immediate House investigation into obstruction of justice and possibly bipartisan agreement to protect the Special Counsel. Sacking Mueller will prompt massive protests and possibly riots.
Despite reluctance among Democrats to impeach, which carries political risk, the gravity of charges and revelations will make it inevitable. The fallout will completely saturate US politics.
I’ve long argued that Trump’s brand will become irrevocably stained by corruption, ruining hopes of re-election. I’m not convinced a Republican Senate will ultimately remove him but am certain he will be challenged for the party nomination.
Some time in 2019 - perhaps after being indicted - the grim reality will become apparent. He will withdraw from the 2020 race and, if the legal process allows, spend his final year in office doing a lap of honour, selling merchandise to his base at rallies.
Betting-wise, it makes better sense to play the longer-term. Each hurdle - survive 2019, impeachment, Republican nomination, presidential election - is an individual market. Re-election effectively involves a running accumulator for which the odds about each leg are drifting.
Coral’s offer of 57-100 that he won’t win a second term represents outstanding value. I think he will be first-stage impeached and won’t be surprised if Trump himself were indicted. Whereas any early exit process involves several unknowns, opposing him for 2020 pays out if he goes early, withdraws or suffers conventional defeat.
In fact those odds would strongly appeal, irrespective of the immediate peril and hurdles to cross. Monmouth University’s A-rated poll shows 58% of Americans do not want him re-elected, compared to 37%. Considerably worse numbers, with opposition even more entrenched, than when defeating similarly unpopular Hillary Clinton.
That was in itself a geographical, statistical fluke - he lost by 2.9M votes nationwide but won the electoral college by less than 100K - aided by differential turnout. His approval in those decisive states has since sunk underwater and turnout among Democrat-voting groups risen exponentially.
To win again, Trump must survive an avalanche of legal problems - of which the Mueller investigation is only one. Then win over an increasingly sceptical Republican primary audience and then repeat his 2016 miracle, against a much tougher backdrop and ultra-motivated opposition. It won’t happen. This isn’t Hollywood.
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