Odds Favor Close Presidential Race

    In any two-horse race, the odds will always be closer than those in a wide-open field. Even so, there is usually one favorite who will attract a leaner price. However, this year’s US Presidential race has current odds that are so tight there is only a wafer-thin difference between the two candidates.

    We should make clear that while we know Donald Trump, the existing resident in the White House, is one of the two runners, we do not yet know who will face off against him since the Democrats will name their candidate this August. Unless there is a significant shock, the world expects that man to be Joe Biden, and it’s on this basis that the current odds have been set.

    Current Market For the Keys to the White House

    To give you an indication of just how close the market is for the 2020 US Presidential race, here is the current line:

    Donald Trump: 150

    Joe Biden: 156

    If you’re unsure how all this works, or where to look, head to a site that explains US Presidential election odds in more detail. Basically, the line shows the return you would make if you wagered $100. So, if you think Donald Trump will win a second term, and you bet $100, you would get $150 back. Of course, you don’t have to bet $100; you could bet any amount. For example, bet $10 and get $15 back.

    What Might Swing the Odds Before Polling Day?

    There’s an old saying that a week is a long time in politics. Attributed to the twisting fortunes of former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, it means that political fortunes can change quickly, and someone who is riding high in the polls now might fall flat on their face by next week. In the pressure cooker world of US politics, in events that affect not just America but the rest of the world, it’s certainly a truism.

    Current events, controversies, and embarrassments can all impact on a politician’s standing, and the odds of winning an election will shift accordingly. This US election, with these two candidates, only amplifies the possibility of fluctuations in the polls.

    The Trump Factor

    Donald Trump made his name and political career out of facing up to opponents and speaking bluntly. Unfortunately, some feel he goes over the top, taking to platforms like Twitter, to make statements that appear to be off the cuff and ill-thought-out.

    While many Tweets and statements at rallies and press conferences have caused offense, split the nation, or even drawn in more support, the needle in the polls has not shifted. Yet, no-one with a passing interest in US politics can rule out there not being a substantial foot-in-mouth moment for the President. Indeed, his aids will be trying to contain his enthusiasm for embracing controversy, but that will be harder than ever as the rally season begins in earnest. 

    The Age of Joe Biden

    Photo by Gage Skidmore under CC BY-SA 2.0

    While Donald Trump is no spring chicken, aged 74, his likely opponent, Joe Biden is 77. By the time election day rolls around on November 3, Biden will be 78. Not being ageist or anything, but that means that by the end of the next Presidential term, the man with arguably the most important and demanding job on the planet will be 82 years old. Most of us will be relaxing at home in our slippers by then.

    We must assume the Republican team will be gunning for Biden, using his age as a reason to vote Trump, and they will pounce at any perceived sign of weakness.

    Unexpected World Events

    If life were predictable, we would all know what happens next. But it’s not. Huge situations develop that can change political fortunes and voter intentions. How a political leader deals with these situations can make or break them.

    This year, of all years, has the perfect example with the COVID-19 pandemic. How each country has dealt with the virus has come under incredible scrutiny. President Trump was seen to be slow to respond to the emerging crisis and then spent time simply blaming China.

    But what might hurt him more is the damage the coronavirus has done to the economy. The US financial fortunes had been improving under his first term, and there can be no doubt the President intended to use the economy as a drum in this election. That opportunity has now gone.

    Anything can happen between now and the votes being cast: foreign policy disasters, conflict, terrorism, scandals – the list goes on.

    But for now, the two key figures in this fascinating Presidential race remain locked together at the polls. Who, or what will change things one way or another?

    Please note that photos were used to support commentary under the Fair Use Act

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