There’s an old saying about election predictions which instructs people making claims against popularly held beliefs to put their money where their mouth is. That actually happens in the real world because betting markets exist where people can wager on the outcome of the presidential race (or pretty much any other endeavor). One such enterprise is the Irish website Paddy Power and they’ve been taking bets on the Clinton vs Trump rumble since before the conventions were finished. For some time now the “smart money” had been on Clinton, but they now report there’s been a shift in the trends and nearly all the wagers coming in are on The Donald to win by a nose. (The Hill)
A major gambling website says nearly all wagers on the presidential election in the last 48 hours have been on Donald Trump to win.
Irish bookmaker Paddy Power on Tuesday said 91 percent of bets on the election in the last two days have been backing Trump, the Republican nominee.
In the past 48 hours, 91% of bets on the US Election have been on Trump. He’s into 9/4. And we’ve already paid out on Hillary. Uh-oh. pic.twitter.com/pGEkHMbrF2
— Paddy Power Politics (@pppolitics)
“We’re not reaching for the rosary beads just yet but if money talks, and it usually does, it’s telling us that Trump still has a puncher’s chance and he’ll be leaving us with some very expensive egg on our face if he does manage to pull it off,” spokesman Féilim Mac An Iomaire said in a statement.
The “expensive egg on our face” comment is more than simple joking. In October the race looked so lopsided in Clinton’s favor that Paddy Power announced they were going to begin paying out wagers on a Hillary victory in advance. I have to wonder how that would work in a court challenge. Let’s say that Trump actually does continue to surge and winds up winning. Can they force their customers to return the winnings already sent to them? Would they even want to in terms of a satisfied customer base in a competitive online market?
As to what this development implies for the actual election results we’re pretty far over the rainbow here. As Nate Silver noted in his postmortem from the Republican primary, the betting markets were giving Trump a 45-50 percent chance of winning the nomination before New Hampshire had even voted. Their previous track record wasn’t too shabby either. As one writer at the Huffington Post noted back in October of 2012, a couple of polls showed Romney with a slim lead but the betting markets had Obama winning in a landslide.
The Internet has given rise to new forums, however. As of this writing, betting at the three biggest prediction markets is as follows: Betfair has Obama with a 64 percent chance to win to Romney’s 36 percent; Intrade has the president at 58 percent; and the Iowa Electronic Markets have the president at 59 percent. Oddschecker shows bookmakers to be even more bullish on Obama.
With all that in mind I’ll tuck this away as one more reading of the tea leaves to be referenced when we get to the eventual victory party of end of the world feast next Tuesday night. Yes, the betting markets have a pretty good track record, but as anyone with an uncle who likes to hang out at the horse track will tell you, it’s never a sure thing.