How can we predict the outcome of the election this November? Turn on the TV, and you’ll see the mainstream media look to polls as the gold standard to predict the future, but that’s hardly the only way. Another way is to turn to the election betting odds and see how where folks are putting their money. Insider trading is legal in the world of election betting, and those actually putting money behind their guess tend to be more accurate than those with no skin in the game.
Unfortunately, both the traditional polls and election betting odds (and aggregated by John Stossel’s website Electionbettingodds.com) still show a Hillary Clinton victory likely this November. But are we all just interpreting the numbers incorrectly? At least one gambler says yes.
Via The Independent
Despite a calamitous week of campaigning, betting markets on the US election are almost a mirror image of those on Britain’s EU referendum at this stage. And they could be pointing to a victory for Donald Trump.
Bookmaker William Hill says 71 per cent of the money so far staked is for Democrat Hillary Clinton. But 65 per cent of the bets by number are for the controversial Republican.
The bookie has cut the odds on a Trump victory from 11-2 to 4-1 over the past two days in response to a surge in bets for the reality TV star and businessman turned politician. It comes despite a campaign bedeviled and derailed by ugly accusations of sexual abuse on the part of Trump from a growing list of women, together with his claims that the election is somehow being “rigged”.
William Hill’s spokesman and resident betting expert Graham Sharpe, an industry veteran of 44 years standing, said: “It’s very, very similar to the Brexit vote. There is a metropolitan media bias that says Trump can’t win, but they can’t vote. In betting terms, this is not a done deal. I see parallels with the Brexit vote at this stage.”
Mr Sharpe, the author of more than 25 books, mostly on the betting and racing industries, continued: “Some of the larger number of small bets on Trump can be explained by odds. When you have odds of 1-8 or 1-9 as you do on Clinton it’s not so interesting to the small punter. You tend to get bigger bets. We had one woman walk into a Northumbrian betting shop to stake £170,000 at 1-8 to win £21,250. She came in the next morning to stake another £13,200 to win £1467. She’d never placed a bet before but said she saw it as an investment.
“Trump at 4-1 or 11-2 will attract the smaller punters. But I don’t think that is the only reason for the number of bets on him, and we have had to cut the odds on Trump three times in the last couple of days. This isn’t over.”
Fortune magazine noted that the Brexit vote showed “polls aren’t as accurate as you think”, even as many US media outlets were declaring that Clinton’s lead of seven points and rising made her all but “unbeatable” with three weeks of campaigning to go.
William Hill’s odds suggest otherwise. They put Trump’s chance of winning at 20 per cent and rising. One reason to take note of that: William Hill doesn’t have that many American clients. The odds therefore reflect what people without any horse in the race think will happen. Punters may have latched on to the similarity of the forces behind Brexit and the rise of Trump. They include years of flat or falling incomes, popular discontent with the establishments of both countries and a desire to make them pay.
John Mappin, the hotelier and part of the family that founded jeweller Mappin & Webb, stands to make £103,000 from the bookie should Trump win. Mr Mappin, who owns Camelot Castle in Cornwall, has already made a substantial profit from backing him to take the Republican nomination at 20-1.
We won’t know who will come out on top for sure until next month – but the race is hardly over.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]