Af­ter 2016, poll­sters have no clue what’ll hap­pen in 2020 — but book­ies do

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY JOSEPH CURL

When you want to know who’s go­ing to win the next pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, don’t read the main­stream news­pa­pers or tune in to the ca­ble net­works. And for­get the poll­sters — they don’t know did­dly. Just check in with the book­ies.

“Don­ald Trump is still fa­vored to win the 2020 Elec­tion with -120 av­er­age odds,” Sports Bet­ting Dime wrote this month. That means you’d have to bet $120 just to win $100. Them’s some pretty good odds that Trump’ll re­peat.

TheLines.com, an­other bet­ting site, pointed out what a huge turn­around that is from the 2016 elec­tion, when Mr. Trump’s odds at the start 500/1 — or +50,000 on bet­ting sites.

“This means that the im­plied odds gave Trump a 0.2% chance of win­ning the pres­i­dency. So, if you saw Don­ald Trump listed as 500/1, a mon­ey­line wa­ger of $1 win­ning would re­turn $500. If you see it priced at +50,000, then a $100 bet would re­turn $50,000 profit,” the site said.

A $2,000 bet on Mr. Trump in the early days of the 2016 cam­paign would’ve made you a mil­lion­aire.

But you won’t get such good odds this time around.

“For the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Don­ald Trump is the ‘odds-on’ fa­vorite on some sports bet­ting sites, where he’s priced at 1/1 or +100,” the site says.

It’s worth point­ing out, too, that the odds aren’t lean­ing to­ward Amer­ica vot­ing to change pres­i­dents af­ter one term. The last time that hap­pened was more than 25 years ago when Bill Clin­ton de­feated Ge­orge H.W. Bush. But even when Ge­orge W. Bush was ex­ceed­ingly un­pop­u­lar in 2004 (at least ac­cord­ing to the main­stream me­dia), he was re­elected. Of course, it didn’t help that the Democrats put up wind­surfer John Kerry.

Other bet­ting shops also say Mr. Trump is the odds-on fa­vorite to win in 2020. “Love him or hate him, Don­ald Trump knows how to rally Repub­li­can vot­ers and it has con­tin­ued to work,” writes OddsShark.com, which puts Mr. Trump’s odds at “even” (bet $100, win $100).

“Day af­ter day there is a firestorm of tweets from, and in­cred­u­lous news re­ports about, the cur­rent pres­i­dent. How­ever, noth­ing has been ma­jor enough to shift Trump from be­ing the top Repub­li­can in the land,” the site says. That may be the un­der­state­ment of the year.

OddsChecke­r.com also says Mr. Trump is still the fa­vorite to win re­elec­tion, of­fer­ing 11/10 odds on the in­cum­bent to win a sec­ond term.

But to hear the MSM tell it, Mr. Trump’s in a fight for his po­lit­i­cal life. A bevy of Demo­cratic wannabes — in­clud­ing so­cial­ist Sen. Bernard San­ders, former Veep Joseph R. Bi­den and Sen. El­iz­a­beth “Poc­a­hon­tas” War­ren — are gar­ner­ing mas­sive cov­er­age daily. So what do the poll­sters say? Lots of the re­cent sur­veys claim it’s anybody’s race.

And that’s not just the MSM: A Fox News poll re­leased last month showed Mr. Trump trail­ing five Demo­cratic con­tenders, in­clud­ing Mr. Bi­den by as many as 10 points and Mr. San­ders by 9.

But re­mem­ber, poll­sters got it com­pletely wrong in 2016, when Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton was a 99% fa­vorite to win the White House. And ev­ery four years, Amer­i­can vot­ers are most con­cerned about one thing: the econ­omy. When that’s go­ing gang­busters, the in­cum­bent usu­ally gets re­elected. At least right now, things couldn’t be much bet­ter for Mr. Trump.

That’s why you just need to do what Bob Wood­ward and Carl Bern­stein did dur­ing their Water­gate re­port­ing: Fol­low the money and for­get the sala­cious head­lines.

“Don­ald Trump’s first year and a half in of­fice has been, by vir­tu­ally any met­ric, a com­plete and ut­ter dis­as­ter. The POTUS has at­tacked the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity, un­der­mined re­la­tion­ships with Amer­ica’s longest-stand­ing al­lies, en­dorsed al­leged sex preda­tors, and over­seen the forcible sep­a­ra­tion of chil­dren from their fam­i­lies,” the Dime wrote.

But then they added this: “De­spite his many scathing scan­dals and con­tro­ver­sies, Trump some­how re­mains the over­whelm­ing fa­vorite to win the next U.S. Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in 2020. The Don­ald’s cur­rent av­er­age odds of +110 are 990 points bet­ter than his next clos­est com­peti­tor. That isn’t just a gap — it’s yawn­ing chasm — and it could get even wider un­less some­thing changes soon.”

At this point, sev­eral odd­s­mak­ers put Sen. Ka­mala D. Har­ris of Cal­i­for­nia as Mr. Trump’s clos­est com­peti­tor at +500 — bet $100 for a chance to win $500. Mr. Bi­den comes in at +600, Ms. War­ren +800 and Mr. San­ders at +1000. Not ex­actly great odds.

But then again, Bo­vada, an­other bet­ting house, has a few can­di­dates with some even more as­tro­nom­i­cal odds. Trump-hat­ing soc­cer star Me­gan Rapinoe comes in at +30,000. And at +1,000,000, you’ve got New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Tom Brady, ac­tor Leonardo DiCaprio, Dwayne “The Rock” John­son, rap­per Kanye West, and … Ivanka Trump.

So for­get the poll­sters. Do what WoodStein did: Fol­low the money. Joseph Curl cov­ered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] gmail.com and on Twit­ter @josephcurl.

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