Given the poor showing in recent years of traditional polling methods accurately predicting results, the notion that betting markets may provide a more useful predictive service in helping to call elections is one that the Cloudbet Blog has already explored.
As an extension of that idea, Cloudbet is closely tracking price movements on its electoral college map as a part of its comprehensive politics offering, in which bettors can choose from the outright winner market, or state-by-state results by party.
Cloudbet will also be live-streaming the presidential debate series, or plans to at least if they still go ahead, although there has been no change to the scheduled vice presidential debate tomorrow.
Furthermore, Cloudbet will also be live Tweeting the coverage, commenting as we go on the official Cloudbet Twitter channel, while also supplying a dedicated Twitter feed on the politics page.
If you’re looking to bet with bitcoin on the US presidential election, make Cloudbet your one-stop shop. Opening an account has never been easier - all you need is a credit or debit card to get started.
All eyes on Utah
So attention turns to Salt Lake City and the University of Utah, where incumbent Vice President Mike Pence and the Democratic challenger, California Senator Kamala Harris will debate - hopefully better than their main-ticket leading men - from precisely 12 feet and 3 inches apart, to a largely empty room.
Largely empty, of course, was how most commentators (especially on the left) felt in the wake of the first presidential debacle - and that’s putting it mildly.
The president’s subsequent positive test for Covid19 has thrown into doubt whether the second and third debates will even go ahead (slated for 15 and 22 October).
We’re sure some staffers somewhere (possibly on both sides) are probably hugely relieved at that notion - as the American public may well be - but it would mean that this vice presidential debate is the last time each party gets a chance to get its message out to a huge audience.
Right now, it’s practically anyone’s guess as to what exactly is going on in the White House given the list so far of those infected - which includes some very key names - and how those not infected will function in their absence.
From the Trump camp, campaign manager Bill Stepien, senior presidential advisor Hope Hicks, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, and two of the president’s most trusted aides in Chris Christie and Kellyanne Conway - not to mention FLOTUS - have all tested positive.
Quite frankly, it’s all a bit of a… how did Dana Bash sum up the first presidential debate?
All of which means that - to use the words of the policy wonks at the Brookings Institution - this is now “The most important vice presidential debate in American history.”
Not your normal VP debate
Vice presidential debates have generally played a distant second fiddle to the presidential debates. Candidates usually keep it simple, their aim being to talk up and reinforce the ticket’s general message and back their party’s nominations. The other overarching principle is to make sure they don’t unwittingly do any harm to the principal candidate, so often they tend to be fairly staid affairs.
However, with Trump’s health in question and with Biden’s age most likely ruling him out of a second term in office should he win this year, the two candidates - while no doubt not wanting to get ahead of themselves - may not be able to shake the idea that coming across as presidential wouldn’t do either of their futures much harm at all.
Unfortunately for Mike Pence, there will be no escaping the fact that he has led the federal coronavirus task force. Defending his actions in the face of the administration’s record (over 7.3 million infected Americans and 208,000 deaths, according to the latest WHO data) will at best be a keen focal point, at worst a… well, let us refer you to the overarching principle just mentioned above.
For Kamala Harris, her challenge will be striking that balance between her natural prosecutorial aggression - which until now has served her well - and being able to effectively dismantle the administration’s performance without being, or appearing, unsympathetic to a sick president.
There has, of course, been a lot of conjecture about what happens should Trump’s condition take a turn for the worse, but as we wrote last time, should anyone wish to read up about the Electoral College’s options, or the 25th Amendment, there is an awful lot of material out there - so we shan't address those issues here.
That said, it is important to note that over 3 million votes have already been cast, so the election itself will undoubtedly be going ahead.
Cloudbet’s Electoral College voting map
At Cloudbet, our position on the election and its outcome is neutral and impartial.
Biden remains the favourite, at current odds of 1.52, compared to Trump’s 2.61 at the time of writing. 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
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 Cloudbet Blog last posted after the first presidential debate - and before the news broke of the president’s health - Biden’s odds have narrowed further, while Trump’s have widened.
Biden's status as favourite has strengthened, with odds now at 1.52 (from 1.64 post-debate), implying a 65.78% chance of victory.
Trump’s odds have widened to 2.61 (from 2.32 post-debate), implying a 38.31% chance of victory.
(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.)
The direction is clear:
Biden: Pre-first debate: 1.74; post-first debate: 1.64; current: 1.52
Trump: Pre-first debate: 2.14; post-first debate: 2.32; current: 2.61.
Turning to the states
We now turn our attention from the outright market lines to the states.
Remember that 270 Electoral College votes is the magic number - marking a majority of the 538 votes and thus qualifying a candidate to take the highest office in the land.
Florida and North Carolina flip Blue - but it's on a knife's edge
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 - both states sitting in the red Republican camp.
The current probabilities as suggested by Cloudbet data show both states have flipped into the Blue, albeit by the narrowest of margins - with North Carolina now showing 50.90% Democratic, 49.10% Republican and Florida showing 51.60% Democratic, 48.40% Republican.
Florida accounts for 29 Electoral College votes; North Carolina 15 votes.
The betting market for Florida has swung in favour - albeit by a slither - of a Democratic win, and with it goes 29 Electoral College votes.
Florida and North Carolina have flipped from red to blue, but by the narrowest of margins
The current market line on North Carolina offers the Democrats at 1.88 and the Republicans at 1.95.
The current market line on Florida offers the Democrats at 1.86 and the Republicans at 1.98.
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%).
These numbers are largely unchanged, although of course the change in Florida and North Carolina means there are now 26 states leaning Blue.
In many of the states in which Biden was already well represented, some of the probabilities have moved a little higher in his favour - for example, Pennsylvania has become bluer, now at a 65.3% probability, from 60.90%.
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 number of states leaning Red has dipped to 24 from 26.
Elsewhere, there is a visible slide lower in the probabilities across a number of states, but ultimately this should make no difference in the final Electoral College vote.
Next up... Miami, FL
As yet, the Commission on Presidential Debates has made no change to the existing debate schedule. The second debate is due to be held, importantly, in Miami, Florida on 15 October,
If the president's health allows, and his recovery is deemed satisfactory, CDC guidelines would actually allow for him to make it back out in public just in time for this debate. And given just how tight the race seems to be in Florida, it's fairly safe to assume that the Trump campaign will want to move heaven and earth to ensure he's fit. And if he isn't, or if he is unable to participate in a second debate, we should still expect a full deployment of the First Family to hit the campaign hard.
The same applies to the Biden camp too - make no bones about it, it was no mere coincidence that his town hall earlier in the week was in... Miami.