Odds on Trump

I’ve been busy all day on a secret mission (from the safety of my own home) which left me no time to do a proper post, so I’ll just do a quickie to mention the state of play as the US presidential election approaches.

Although Joe Biden seems to be comfortably ahead in terms of the popular vote, the vagaries of the American voting system do not easily translate into the probability of a win. After all, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016, and look what good that did her!

I looked at odds checker just now and saw the best Bookies odds are Biden 11/20 on and Trump 15/8 against. That’s uncomfortably close given what an appallingly terrible man the incumbent is, but at least 40% of the American electoral don’t seem to mind having a such an item for a president so there’s a significant chance that he’ll win, especially since his campaign has been deploying extensive spoiling tactics to tilt the vote in his favour.

Yesterday I decided that I would follow my usual betting practice and place a wager on the outcome that I don’t want to happen. I did this in 2016. Then Hunting the best odds I could find were 18-5 against Donald Trump. I put a monkey* on, and walked away with £2300 (being £1800 plus my stake) when Trump won.

I followed the same strategy on the Brexit Referendum Day as I felt it in my bones that Vote Leave was going to win. I ended up depressed but compensated to the tune of £1000.

I’m afraid to say I feel the same way now about the likelihood of a Trump victory. Not very scientific, I know, but there you go. This year the odds are a lot shorter and I think I’ll bet a bit less, but I’ll still go for the compensation strategy.

I have never paid much attention to American politics in the past. It is as incomprehensible to me as British politics must be to them. Gore Vidal summed it up for me:

There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party … and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt — until recently … and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties.

Although both parties still represent the moneyed classes more than anyone else, but this time the Republican contender is a corrupt narcissist who has already done untold damage to his country. Americans are free to vote for whomever they wish, of course. I don’t have a say, as I’m a foreigner.

Although I find it deeply depressing that this race is even close, I won’t lose any sleep over the election night. I’ll do what I did on the day of the EU referendum: drink some wine, listen to music and then go to sleep. There’s no point in worrying about things that are out of your hands.

(*monkey = £500)

11 Responses to “Odds on Trump”

  1. Phillip Helbig Says:

    “And if Trump does win, at least it shortens the list of countries I will have to consider emigrating to if and when the UK does leave the European Union.”

    But the UK has already left and you have already emigrated.

    • telescoper Says:

      I based that paragraph on one from my 2016 post and forgot to remove that sentence. As you know, I’ve already decided where to emigrate…

  2. Phillip Helbig Says:

    “After all, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016, and look what good that did her!”

    That has happened several times, that the winner of the popular vote was not the winner of the election (even discounting all other factors such as hanging chads, brother governors, no time for recount, no time to vote, and so on).

  3. George Efstathiou Says:

    Don’t worry Peter. This time the Democrats will win by a landslide.
    I would save your money!

    • telescoper Says:

      Too late. I bet already, though only €50…

    • Phillip Helbig Says:

      Even if they do, the popular vote would probably be much closer. That’s part of the problem, the highly non-linear voting system, which distorts the actual will of the people (even if it functions exactly as designed and there is no fraud). Couple that with gerrymandering, first past the post, and so on, and I think that it is a stretch to call the country democratic. Words alone are not enough; there were/are elections in many countries with “democratic” in their names. If the Democrats do win the presidency and both houses of Congress, they could institute some reforms to make the system better. My guess is that they won’t implement even one. (I don’t mean changes in health care and perhaps even gun laws, but rather changes to things such as the electoral system, appointment of judges, and so on).

      • There is a first past the post system in the UK, which means you can win power with < 40% of the vote, so hardly democratic. One might argue that proportional representation is more democratic, but can lead to parties with a small % of the vote holding the balance of power.

        Changing the electoral system is probably a non-starter as not only do you need large majorities in congress but also in the individual states. Addressing gerrymandering would be something to work on, and appointment of federal judges. Cannot do anything about the Supreme Court unless they get both the presidency and Senate, in which case they could increase the numbers. Many argue that 9 is insufficient, irrespective of their liberal or conservative standings.

      • Phillip Helbig Says:

        Yes, the UK and France and some other countries have first past the post, but with the Electoral College, if you get a majority of the votes, you get all the votes of that state, so it is even more non-linear.

        As for PR, the small parties get the balance of power only if it is more or less a tie, which is better than giving it to one of the big ones. But actually, that is not that common, but rather 6 or so parties with about 10–35 per cent each and a coalition of 2 or 3 parties.

    • telescoper Says:


  4. […] I mentioned in a post last week, I placed a comfort bet on Trump of €50 at 9/5. He might still win but if he doesn’t this […]

  5. […] I’ve never felt happier to have lost a bet. […]

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