Biden’s Still the Betting Favorite

So, you think Joe Biden is going to win the presidential election in a route. Or maybe you think Donald Trump will conjure up some 2016 magic and pull another upset.

Are you ready to make a bet on it?

Wagering on politics has never been easier. Political betting markets like PredictIt became wildly popular after Trump’s upset victory in 2016. Many viewed his win as a massive polling error given how heavily favored Hillary Clinton was in basically every major poll.

Markets like PredictIt and sportsbook odds aren’t exactly valid replacements for polls. Oddsmakers aren’t actively asking random people their opinions, controlling for demographics, or any of the vast science that goes into political polling. But betting markets do provide real-time reactions to news and current events. Betting odds or prices can change instantly after a monster breaking story or unwatchable debate; polling usually takes at least a few days to catch up.

Polling and betting markets tend to even each other out—after all, polling results are factored into odds, as well as how bettors decide to place their wagers. Right now, they’re mostly aligned: Biden is the favorite, but sportsbooks are a little more forgiving to Trump.

Odds to Win Presidential Election

Bovada: Biden -160, Trump +125
BetFair: Biden -175, Trump +138 Biden -165, Trump +145

In other words, with Bovada you’d have to bet $160 on Biden winning to win $100; Betting $100 on Trump would net you $125 if he wins. Still, all these sportsbooks give Trump a better than 40 percent chance of winning the election, far higher than most major election models like The Economist (90 percent) and FiveThirtyEight (88 percent).

PredictIt skews a little more toward polling. As of this writing, Biden is trading at 65 cents to Trump’s 41 cents. You can think of those like percentages, even though they add up to more than 100—anyone trading above 50 cents is usually the favorite. And Biden is doing so in several major swing states, including Pennsylvania and Florida.

These numbers can change on the spot. Maybe the final presidential debate will change things, or some groundbreaking news will alter the course of the election (please, for the love of god, no more October surprises). But if you’re thinking of making a longshot bet on Trump, now might be a good time to get it in.


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