If you’ve been following my posts on 2020 Presidential election odds, you know I never believed Sen. Joe Biden was going to win the Democratic party nomination.
Oddsmakers disagreed early on, listing Biden as the front-runner. That changed last month as Sen. Bernie Sanders became the betting favorite. At the time, it didn’t totally make sense.
But as is usually the case, the oddsmakers got it right.
Sanders narrowly lost in Iowa. He has won the New Hampshire primary, besting Pete Buttigieg in the popular vote (the delegates between the two were evenly split nine apiece). Sen. Amy Klobuchar finished third, capturing six delegates.
Sanders’ New Hampshire win boosts his election odds
In modern elections, candidates need to win either Iowa or New Hampshire to win their party nomination. And no candidate has ever finished fourth in NH and won the nomination. All of that adds up to bad news for Biden, who won neither and finished fifth in New Hampshire.
When the Sanders surge began three weeks ago, Bern’s odds at European sportsbooks pulled just ahead of Biden. Sanders was priced at +500 to win the presidency to Biden’s +550.
That is no longer the case.
After Sanders’ New Hampshire victory, he’s now +400 to win the presidential election — the best among Democrats. Biden has dropped all the way to the +2000/+2500 range.
Can Biden make a comeback?
If you watched Tuesday night’s primary coverage, there’s no gray area as to what Biden’s strategy is moving forward.
- South Carolina (primary on Feb. 29th) is his so-called “firewall.”
- However, Nevada (caucus on Feb. 22) could be his real last stand.
- Biden immediately spun a narrative calling out that 99% of African-Americans had not yet voted.
- As well as noting that 98% of Latinos had not yet voted.
- And Biden made it clear that any candidate who is going to win the Democratic nomination needs those votes.
While he is right, is it too late for him? Has he lost all of his early momentum? Or as Amy Klobuchar’s campaign is now calling it, “Klomentum”?
History, and oddsmakers, suggest it’s all but done for Biden.
Yes, Bloomberg is viewed as the second betting favorite now…
Part of Biden’s rebound problem is that Michael Bloomberg officially enters the race (and debate stage) in Nevada.
Among Dems, Bloomberg is the second betting favorite now, priced around +500 to win the presidency. That bests Buttigieg’s +1600 and has him nearly even with Sanders.
Bloomberg has also taken the second most bets among Democrats on sites like PredictIt.org.
However, he’s currently running fifth in polls in the Silver State. As Klobuchar has shown, a good debate performance can certainly provide a meaningful bump. Bloomberg’s campaign bullied their way onto that debate stage for a reason. He is also spending hundreds of millions in an ad blitz to jump-start his campaign.
Bloomberg’s late entrance though may cause another potential issue for the Democrats: splitting delegates and causing a contested convention.
A contested convention could actually help Biden
As of now, it’s Buttigieg who still leads the delegate count over Sanders. If Biden does well enough in Nevada to hang on through South Carolina, he could very well keep fighting until the convention, counting on his institutional appeal putting him over the top. Biden would then actually be helped by Bloomberg winning a few states and delegates along the way. No Democrat would have a majority heading into the convention. And no Democrat would benefit from that more than Biden.
That kind of chaos could throw betting markets into disarray. It would almost certainly harm Sanders the most given his less-than-centrist appeal.
Who is out of the race?
While New Hampshire did not necessarily provide any clarity for who will ultimately win the nomination, it did winnow the field more.
The results have already caused Andrew Yang and Michael Bennet (he ran?) to drop out. Expect Yang supporters to gravitate towards Bloomberg and Buttigieg. Bennet’s support was so minimal that his exit will have no impact.