The 2020 US Presidential election race has been a roller-coaster that now has President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in a race that is tighter than a vise-grip.
The first party votes were cast in the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary. Bernie Sanders emerged as the front-runner. Biden was buried. Election betting markets at European sportsbooks like Bet365 and Betway priced them accordingly.
Then everything changed. Rapidly.
It started when Biden won South Carolina. Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar dropped out of the race and endorsed him. Biden went on to have an impressive Super Tuesday, becoming the prohibitive favorite for the Democrats.
As the coronavirus pandemic shut down the country, Biden was able to sit on his delegate lead and secure his party’s nomination.
On the Republican side, Donald Trump never faced a real challenger. This usually helps an incumbent’s campaign, enabling them to focus on November.
However, thanks to a number of factors (COVID-19, economy, racial unrest), Trump for the first time ever is an underdog for re-election.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the odds and how to bet US Presidential elections.
Presidential election odds 2020 (Updated September 20, 2020)
|Candidate||bet365 odds||Betway odds|
|Joe Biden (D)||-120||-118|
|Donald Trump (R)||+110||-118|
|Kamala Harris (D)||+7000||+5000|
Biden surged early in the summer of 2020 as he was at -170 at Bet365. By mid-August, however, Barack Obama’s VP was sitting at -145. Trump, meanwhile, moved from +150 in July to +125 during August.
As of Sept. 9, the race is a virtual Pick ‘Em with Biden getting a hair of an advantage at some European books.
Looking back earlier, Donald Trump’s impeachment hearing significantly impacted his election odds. He oscillated from even money to as high as +140 at some books during the impeachment process.
But after the House voted to impeach President Trump on Dec. 18, his odds to win the 2020 election actually improved. The impeachment itself has rallied and activated his base, which is common going back to Bill Clinton in 1998. His acquittal certainly won’t hurt his odds. Unemployment was low. The Democrats had no consensus candidate to rally around.
To that point, it was an unusual Democratic primary season early on. Polling favorite Elizabeth Warren emerged as the top challenger to Trump, surging past Joe Biden during the summer of 2019. Then after strong (and ultimately prescient) polling in Iowa, it was Pete Buttigieg. After Iowa, it was Buttigieg again. After New Hampshire and Nevada, it was Sanders.
However, after South Carolina it is Biden who took charge. He began cleaning up state after state, surging to the lead.
Then, the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Primaries were paused. Sanders dropped out. And Biden was able to claim the presumptive nomination.
With the economy in the tank, Biden, who was left for dead after Iowa and New Hampshire, is now ahead of Trump in polls and even among oddsmakers.
If things weren’t bizarre enough, out of nowhere in July, Kanye West (yes, Yeezy) declared his intent to run for President.
Kanye West election odds
While the logistics of Ye getting on enough state ballots to stand any chance of winning the presidency is basically zilch, people were still betting on him in July.
Oddsmakers listed West at +5000 to win the 2020 election on July 7. By mid-August, however, West was taken off the board at most sportsbooks.
Election betting explained
You’ll hear election betting sometimes referred to as “futures.” A futures bet is as it sounds: it’s a wager on some future event, like “Who will win the Super Bowl?” or “Who will be elected the next President of the United States?”
Most election wagers are moneyline bets, otherwise known as a straight bet. The moneyline wager is straight forward: it simply means that you’re picking a candidate to win. There’s no spread involved.
Consider the following example from 2015:
Donald Trump Odds to Win 2016 Presidency
When Donald Trump declared for President, he was priced at 500/1, or +50000 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 +50000, then a $100 bet would return $50,000 profit.
For the 2020 Presidential election, Donald Trump is the “odds-on” favorite on betting sites.
Donald Trump Odds to Win 2020 Presidency
Donald Trump opened at even odds of +100, or even money. This means you would need to wager $100 to win $100 (and $10 to win $10). Entering 2020, Trump’s odds climbed as high as -150. This means you would wager $150 to win $100. Now, he’s priced around +150, meaning a wager of $100 would win $150.
What to monitor: polling data
Polling data is fluid and changes over the course of an election period. In the early stages like now (May 2019), candidates with the most name recognition tend to poll the strongest. That’s why on the Democratic side former VP Joe Biden and 2016 candidate Bernie Sanders were early polling front-runners.
As lower tier candidates who have difficulty fund-raising drop out of the race, and TV debates start crystallizing (or galvanizing) voter opinion, the numbers begin to consolidate around one-to-two front-runners heading into the primaries.
For simplicity purposes, monitor two well-respected polling aggregators:
- Real Clear Politics: Consolidates and links to the most respected polls.
- FiveThirtyEight Polls: Does the same but presents the information in a different way.
Top 2020 US Presidential Contenders
President Donald Trump is the only Republican of note running. It’s uncommon for incumbents to face any challenger from within his party (and it’s almost unheard of if the economy is growing and unemployment is low). Even in poor economic times, it’s highly unusual for an incumbent — even one as divisive as Trump — to face more than two challengers.
However, one name to keep monitoring in all of this is Mike Pence. The Veep is still priced at +5000. If polling data continues to trend in the negative and Republican establishment decide to dump Trump (or the Donald tries to save face and drop out), Pence at +5000 is incredibly priced.
It’s all Joe Biden after he accepted the Democratic nominee in August. Biden chose California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running-mate in August.
- Joe Biden: Biden ran for President in 1988, but had to drop out over plagiarism claims. How quaint! If only that was the worst allegations floating around about this candidate. Anyway, despite allegations of getting handsy and/or too close to females, Biden is very well-liked among his peers. He’s popular within the party. He’s an old white man. Checks a lot of boxes.
Key 2020 election dates
Candidates have already started their CNN and Fox News town halls. For the most part, these will have little impact in polling. Traditionally, Americans start really paying attention once networks host debates.
Here are some key events and dates to monitor leading up to the 2020 US Presidential election:
- Tuesday, Sept. 29: Presidential Debate 1 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio
- Wednesday, Oct. 7: Vice Presidential Debate 1 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah
- Thursday, Oct. 15: Presidential Debate 2 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida
Thursday, Oct. 22: Presidential Debate 3 at Belmont University in Nashville Tennessee
- November 3: US Presidential election
2020 Presidential betting tips
If this was 2024 and Donald Trump had just served two terms, “the exact opposite” candidate usually emerges as the victor. Think of it like the NFL. You usually replace the hardline coach with the “player friendly” one.
- Who unseated George H.W. Bush? Bill Clinton.
- Who followed George W. Bush? Barack Obama.
- And who followed Obama? Donald Trump.
Polar opposites each time.
Can you bet in the US?
There has been some movement for US sportsbooks to allow political betting. You may get that opportunity this election cycle. Keep your browser locked to TheLines for updated sports betting news throughout the year.