Election 2020: A closer look at the states
Cloudbet's Electoral College map suggests that the gap between Biden and Trump is widening. But in key swing states the polls suggest the race is tighter than the betting markets imply. There's also some evidence that betting positions might be at odds with the odds... is that enough to portent a possible surprise?
For this election, Cloudbet is tracking price movements closely as part of its comprehensive politics offering that allows customers to bet on the election winner and state-by-state results by party. Anyone looking to bet with bitcoin on the US presidential election should check out our electoral college map, which gives users an instant representation of which party is likely to win, based on the real-time odds presented for each state.
The election map significantly amplifies what’s on offer at Cloudbet for players seeking the best odds for bitcoin politics betting. In an effort to collate the most timely information, Cloudbet has been live-streaming the debate series, and will continue to do so should the event in Nashville go ahead. We have also added a dedicated Twitter feed to our page so users can easily see what each camp has to say when the moment takes them.
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VP debate: The fly has it
After the first presidential debacle, much of the media attention naturally shifted to see if incumbent Vice President Mike Pence and his Democratic challenger, Senator Kamala Harris (D. CA) would add much of any value to the undecided American voter.
On top of that, with the president testing positive for Covid, there was the added layer of wondering if either vice-presidential candidate would have it in them to “appear presidential”.
In doing so, they over-hyped a debate that, in retrospect, will go down in history as a fairly typical VP debate - ultimately none too enlightening with more of the same on-message, point-reinforcing, rhetoric.
Again, though not to the extent as in the first presidential debate, the moderator - this time USA Today's Susan Page - failed to take control of the classroom.
Answers to specific questions be damned.
It says a lot that at the end of the day, it was the fly that stole the show.
Perhaps the 2020 election will be remembered as a nadir; one in which agreed upon rules were paid little to no respect, persistence overshadowed substance, and interruption trumped civility.
Maybe. Though with the October 22 debate in Nashville, Tennessee still a possibility, the opportunity for redemption exists. Whether you believe it will be taken is an entirely different matter.
It says a lot that at the end of the day, the fly stole the show.
Cloudbet’s Electoral College voting map
Throughout the Cloudbet Blog’s coverage of the election we have looked at the betting markets and posed the question of whether or not they can offer predictive power in the face of traditional polling methods that have, in recent years, proved to have missed the mark. We explain this more fully in our inaugural article Election 2020: What betting markets can tell us about Trump vs Biden.
The outright winner market
At Cloudbet, our position on the election and its outcome is neutral and impartial.
At the time of writing, odds on Biden to win are 1.47, which puts his implied chance of victory at 68%.
President Trump’s odds are currently 2.86, putting his implied chance of victory at 35%.
(Remember, these total more than 100% because the surplus reflects the bookmaker’s margin embedded in their odds.)
The direction is clear:
Biden: Pre-first debate: 1.74; post-first debate: 1.64; pre-VP debate: 1.52; current: 1.47.
Trump: Pre-first debate: 2.14; post-first debate: 2.32; pre-VP debate: 2.61; current 2.86.
Of course, it’s important to recognise that the odds are fluid, so please ensure you check Cloudbet for the latest iteration.
Immediately after the vice-presidential debate we saw little movement in the betting markets, but given some time for the dust to settle and the passage of a few days, and the data are raising some interesting talking points.
Turning to the states
We now turn our attention from the outright market lines to the states.
Blue gets bluer
A look at October 12 data compared to October 7 (pre-VP debate) data shows that the blue states have only become bluer.
State-by-state odds compiled by Cloudbet indicate 316 Electoral College (EC) votes for the Democratic Party and 207 for the Republicans, boosted recently by a strengthening trend toward the blue in Florida.
In fact, apart from California (91.6% probability) and Arizona (59.2%), where there was no change, the probability of a Democratic victory strengthened in every one of the 26 states already in the blue camp.
While California is a clear Democratic stronghold, Arizona (with 11 EC votes) has recently become considered a swing state. According to FiveThirtyEight, in Arizona Biden is polling at 48.7% versus Trump at 44.9%, which suggests a closer contest.
(The FiveThirtyEight website employs a methodology to adjust both state and national polls based on quality, sample size and recency to provide a snapshot for each state. We refer to their results from hereon when citing polling numbers.)
Of course, those 26 blue states also include Florida and North Carolina, which when last we wrote, were both on a knife’s edge.
North Carolina remains so, with the latest Cloudbet numbers suggesting a probability split of 53.1% Biden / 46.9% Trump. With 15 EC votes up for grabs, the Tar Heel State remains one to watch. FiveThirtyEight puts the contest at an even tighter 49.3% Biden, 46.2% Trump.
In Florida on the other hand, the Democrats seem to have consolidated their position somewhat, according to the betting markets, which is crucial in a state with 29 EC votes at stake. Ahead of the vice-presidential debate (October 7 data), the probabilities as suggested by Cloudbet were 51.6% / 48.4% in favour of the blue camp. By October 12, this has shifted to 56.7% versus 43.3%.
We can’t say for certain, but perhaps the president’s stance on Covid and his comments during his convalescence have alienated the state’s older residents.
Again, however, the polls suggest a much tighter race, at 49.4% Biden, 44.8% Trump.
Still, the move bluer in Florida is what accounts for the shift in the Cloudbet Electoral College map’s barometer, which now suggests that, thanks to 29 EC votes, the Democrats are on track to garner 316 EC votes - easily surpassing the 270 needed to secure the Presidency.
Pennsylvania (and Michigan and Wisconsin)
The president has made clear his belief that Pennsylvania - with its 20 EC votes - is very much up for grabs, making two campaign appearances there this past week. While the polls have already firmed for Biden in his home state (now at 53.1% vs 43.9%, from, at times, a sub-1 point difference), the betting odds offer an even stronger indication.
And if that’s bad for Trump, Michigan and Wisconsin look even worse. In the 2016 shock, Trump stole all three of these states from Hillary Clinton - and it’s widely regarded that he needs at least one of them to prevail in the current election.
However, their probabilities as suggested by the Cloudbet map strongly favour Biden. And no surprise that Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin are all considered must-win states for the Biden camp too.
Iowa, Georgia, Ohio - the 60/40 battlegrounds - and North Carolina
In the other key battleground states of Iowa, Georgia, Ohio and North Carolina, we see a diversion between the numbers suggested by the Cloudbet map and the polls.
According to the betting markets, the Republicans still have an edge in Iowa, Georgia and Ohio, although the gap has narrowed recently with the Democrats managing to win more favour.
However, the polls all put Biden out in front, albeit by some real skin-of-his-teeth margins: Iowa: Biden 48.0%, Trump 46.9%; Georgia: Biden 47.6%, Trump 47.0%; Ohio: Biden 46.9%, Trump 46.6%.
In North Carolina, the Democrats have managed to widen the gap in the odds slightly, while the polls concur, giving Biden the widest lead of all four of these states, at 49.3% over Trump’s 46.2%.
Bettors bucking the trend
Finally, here's an interesting observation: Betting positions are at odds with the odds.
While market prices strongly favour a Democratic win, of all the positions taken by Cloudbet since October 7 through October 12, 86% of them have been placed on Trump/the GOP.
Could it be that Cloudbet bettors know more than the polls and even our data suggest? Possibly.
But, the answer could also lie in the simple fact that - as 2020 has proven countless times - perhaps folks these days feel unpredictability is now the only predictable thing, and the odds offered on Trump may be wide enough to attract a wager on the outside.
Let's face it - this president has surprised us before.