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Betting Strategy

Election 2020: Lessons from the first debacle

With the first presidential debate over, the market lines on the two candidates have shifted a little - with challenger Joe Biden strengthening his position as favourite. It will take a little longer to see how the debate plays out for the individual state markets and Cloudbet will track movements to ensure our politics offering provides our players with the most comprehensive and best possible way to bet on the US presidential election with bitcoin.

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. You can also read our post on election betting markets to familiarise yourself with some of the factors at work here.

The election map significantly amplifies what’s on offer at Cloudbet for players seeking the best odds for bitcoin politics betting. Cloudbet is also live-streaming the debate series. Opening an account has never been easier - all you need is a credit or debit card to get started.

The first debacle

It isn’t really our intention here at Cloudbet to dive into the politics, which is fortunate because at times the president’s behaviour made it almost impossible to hear what anyone was trying to say.

There were undoubtedly moments that took us back to the schoolyard - with insults crossing the line from politics into the personal. At one point Trump went after Biden’s son, Hunter, hard… seeming to catch Biden off-guard, but after floundering a bit at first, recovered. That may have gone some way to helping his chances.

Trump regularly spoke over Biden, acting more petulant schoolboy than holder of the highest office. He continued to perpetuate his denials over Covid, made some rather dubious claims - “We’re weeks away from a vaccine” - and tried to turn this into yet another cheap Trump popularity show.

When asked about the wisdom of holding rallies with large crowds, he shrugged and said to Biden, “If you could get the crowds, you’d have done the same.” At one point Biden had had enough and just came right out with a “Will you shut up, man?” Farce? Pretty close.

But then this is nothing new - it’s the standard Trump MO people have come to expect.

To top it off, there were times when the moderator, Fox’s Chris Wallace, chimed in to try to get things back on track - leaving viewers now looking at three white septuagenarian men simultaneously vying for attention.

When it all ended, CNN’s Jake Tapper put it fairly succinctly: “That was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck.. that was horrific...”

Only for his colleague Dana Bash to go one further: “You used high-minded language, but I’m just gonna say it like it is… That was a shitshow.”

I’m just gonna say it like it is… That was a shitshow - Dana Bash, CNN chief political correspondent

At the other end of the spectrum, Fox’s Sean Hannity painted a picture in which President Trump “bulldozed” his weaker opposition. Each to their own, and realistically, never the twain shall meet - which, as it happens, may be pretty apt for the election too.

Cloudbet’s Electoral College voting map

At Cloudbet, our position on the election and its outcome is neutral and impartial. About 12 hours ahead of the first debate, the odds for the outright winner market put Biden as the favourite at 1.75 and Trump at 2.14.

This is the only reason why below we present our findings in relation to the Democratic Party ahead of our findings in relation to the Republican Party.

Of course, it’s important to recognise that these odds are fluid, so please ensure you check Cloudbet for the latest iteration.

The outright winner market

Given the odds on each candidate, a simple formula - (1/their odds)*100 - can be used to extrapolate each candidate’s implied chance of victory.

Biden's pre-debate odds of 1.75 - calculated at (1/1.75)*100 - gave him a 57.14% chance of victory.

Trump's pre-debate odds of 2.14 - calculated at (1/2.14.)*100 - gave him a 46.72% chance of victory.

Since the debate, Biden’s odds have narrowed slightly, while Trump’s have widened slightly.

Biden remains the favourite, but is now at 1.64, giving him a 60.97% chance of victory.

Trump’s odds have moved to 2.32, giving him a 43.10% chance of victory.

(Incidentally, the reason why these total more than 100% is because the surplus reflects the fact that bookmakers add margin to their odds - so it’s important to bear that in mind.)

Turning to the states

We now turn our attention from the outright market lines to the states. Post-debate shifts in markets are still being processed at the time of writing, but we will revisit these at a later date.

It still pays, however, to paint a pre-debate picture of where each candidate stands in each of the states, identifying their strongholds and seeing where the race may be tightest.

Before we do that however, a quick reminder of why 270 is such an important number.

The Electoral College: Why 270 matters

Here’s a simple question: How does the Electoral College work?

Here’s a simple answer: How much time do you have?

Explaining the finer workings of this uniquely American institution - albeit one borne out of the same, great Federalist thinking that shaped the Founding Fathers in their construction of the Constitution - is, quite frankly, little more than an unhealthy distraction if the underlying meaning behind the question is really something closer to “What is the role of the Electoral College in deciding the president?”

The answer to this question, fortunately, is a bit more clear cut and easier to answer.

All one really needs to know is that the Electoral College is made up of 538 electors, and that for the Electoral College to declare a president-elect, the candidate needs to win a majority of the votes.

And that’s why 270 matters.

And really, for the practical purpose of tracking an election, the Cloudbet blog is perfectly happy to leave the civics lesson there.

That said, Cloudbet is loath to be too flippant about the subject because the way the Electoral College operates does raise some very serious questions about how the American political apparatus does function, and whether or not it fairly reflects the will of the electorate.

As the 2000 and 2016 elections illustrate, there is a very real chance that a president can be voted in without having won the popular vote. The debate around whether or not it should be reformed, modernised, or even abolished, is very real - and for those wishing to learn more, there is a wealth of information out there.

For our purposes here, however, let’s just put the focus back on 270.

The Blue Biden camp

Ahead of the first debate:

There were 12 states where the probability of a Democratic Party win was above 90%. Collectively, these states account for 172 Electoral College votes. California, with the largest Electoral College representation of 55 votes showed a probability of 92.00% Blue. Notably, this group also included New York (29 votes; 92.70%) and Illinois (20 votes; 92.60%).

In total, there were 24 states where the probability was tilted in favour of a Democratic win (i.e., over 50% probability). Collectively, these states account for 287 (172 + 115) Electoral College votes, and included Pennsylvania (20 votes; 60.90%) and Michigan (16 votes; 70.30%).

The Red Trump camp

Ahead of the first debate:

There were 19 states where the probability of a Republican Party win was above 90%. Collectively, these states account for 123 Electoral College votes. Tennessee (94.20%) and Indiana (90.50%) were tied as the states with the highest Electoral College weighting at 11 votes apiece.

In total, there were 26 states where the probability was tilted in favour of a Republican win (i.e., over 50% probability). Collectively, these states account for 230 (123 + 107) Electoral College votes. Notably, these included Texas (38 votes; 77.20%), Florida (29 votes; 52.80%) and Georgia (16 votes; 67.00%)

The battlegrounds

Before the first debate, the two most hotly contested states, where the balance of probability was closest, were:

North Carolina: 46.90% Democratic, 53.10% Republican and Florida: 47.20% Democratic, 52.80% Republican.

Next up

The next debate takes place 7 October between the vice-presidential candidates, incumbent Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic challenger Kamala Harris. The two main contenders return for Round 2 on 15 October and Round 3 on 22 October.

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