A betting perspective for the 2020 Presidential Election

With less than a week to go before the next U.S. President is elected, Hartley looks at betting odds in various swing states and finds value bets for the election.

Odds and betting advice for the U.S. Presidential Election

In the runup to the 2016 Presidential election I wrote that Donald Trump would likely be better than other candidates for gambling interests. That belief was based on Trump’s prior ties to the casino industry, as well as comments he made previously in support of online gambling. It turned out to be true in some respects and false in others.

Donald Trump election odds bettingThe Trump regime must be given props for the reversal of PASPA that has led to a growth in licensed and regulated sports betting throughout the United States with the possibility that more than 40 states will have sports wagering available in the next three years. The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) only chose to hear New Jersey's appeal of PASPA after Donald Trump was elected president. The justices voted 6-3 to strike down PASPA with three Democrat judges, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Beyer all dissenting. All five Republican judges, along with Elena Kagan, voted to repeal it.  Had Hillary Clinton won that election and SCOTUS still decided to hear the case, it is uncertain whether Merrick Garland, who almost certainly would have been a SCOTUS judge instead of Neal Gorsuch, would have sided with the Republicans or whether he would have voted with his Democrat counterparts. Had Garland voted to keep it, there is a good chance Elena Kagan would have kept the vote partisan and PASPA would still be law today. Even in her arguments prior to the vote it appeared Kagan was going to vote against the repeal.

On the other side of the coin, Rod Rosenstein and the Republican Department of Justice (DOJ) issued an opinion in 2018 rejecting the 2011 DOJ opinion which stated that the Wire Act only applied to sports betting, thus opening the door to online casino and poker betting. And the DOJ has been fighting tooth and nail since to get their new opinion upheld. A New Hampshire District Court ruled that the new opinion was not valid, and the DOJ has been arguing that the New Hampshire court was wrong. Even as late as June of 2020, the DOJ has argued before the First Circuit Court of Appeals that their 2018 decision was valid and should be upheld, as it did not threaten lotteries, which they claim is the only reason the New Hampshire Lottery Corporation and the New Hampshire Courts fought to have the opinion invalidated. What is well accepted is that the new opinion was made strictly to appease Sheldon Adelson, who has been working hard to have online gambling legalization rescinded, and the Republican government feels owing to Adelson because he is the party’s biggest donor and they don’t want to lose his support now or as a legacy payment should he not live much longer. 

2020 Presidential betting oddsSo, with that in mind, it must be argued that Joe Biden is a better choice than Donald Trump for gambling interests at this point. Sports betting is now law and is just accepted as policy, but the online gambling issue is still up in the air. It is clear that if Trump wins, the DOJ will continue to push to have their opinion upheld, whereas if Biden wins, the appeal will go away. After all there is no reason whatsoever to expect that a Democrat DOJ would fight to have their own prior ruling overturned, especially since Biden was V.P. when the decision was made. Furthermore, the Democrats owe nothing to Adelson.

So, does Biden actually have a chance? In this article I am going to look at all the swing states and examine which side presents value for each state, as well as a value bet for the overall winner: All odds listed are from William Hill sportsbook.

Arizona: Joe Biden 4/7 odds 
No Democrat has ever won Arizona since 1996 but there has been a big change in demographics recently with more young people and Latinos moving to Arizona. Polls indicate that women and the elderly who overwhelmingly voted for Trump in 2016 are siding with Biden this time, citing Trump’s indifference and poor handling of COVID-19 as the main reason. It seems Arizona see how neighboring states managed to keep COVID numbers relatively low in recent months compared to Arizona and put they put the blame solely on the shoulders of Trump. The latest polls show Biden ahead from anywhere between 4% and 9% with an average lead of about 6%. For that reason, getting odds of less than 1 to 2 on Joe Biden seems like good value.

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Florida: 10/11 odds for both parties 
This state is always a toss-up and this year is no different. Trump won the state in 2016 but polls suggest that many voters are fed up with him because of his mishandling of the virus. Many of the large elderly population (particularly women) have turned against him and the black and Latino population seemed poise to overwhelmingly vote for Joe Biden. On the other side, Jewish voters are overwhelmingly poised to vote for Trump citing his actions in Israel. Moving the American embassy, creating a peace deal with the Saudis and possibly achieving peace with other countries in the region has won favor with the majority of Jewish residents. It seems that older white college graduates are planning to overwhelmingly vote for Biden, while other younger people are split. Governor Ron DeSantis’ decision to keep the economy open and do away with all precautions (hoping for herd immunity) after Trump urged him to do so during the pandemic has created mixed feelings for him and Trump. Many applaud the decision since they can still go to the beaches and restaurants but others think it’s a faulty policy. It’s likely that anyone related to one of the 18,000 people who died from COVID will feel differently.

Current polls have Trump up by 2% in Florida, but the number of undecided voters in the state is massive. What is clear is that those voting Democrat will have voted by mail or in advance while those voting Republican will likely wait until Election day. The odds show that it is a toss-up and at this point there still seems to be no value bet. The best bet may be to wait until election day and see how long the lineups for polls are. If they are significantly smaller than usual, then Biden will be a good bet. If they are significantly longer than usual, then Trump will be a good bet. But as it stands now, this is a state to pass on.

Georgia: Donald Trump 8/11 odds.  
No Democrat has won in Georgia since Clinton’s first term in 1992 and most years the vote hasn’t even been close. But things have changed and the Coronavirus and issue with police violence and Trump’s racist response to the violence has enraged many. Black residents in Atlanta are furious about the increasing race tensions under Trump and almost everyone agrees he completely mishandled COVID. The latest polls have Biden up by 1% on Trump, but the question is whether the state is really willing to vote Democrat. My hunch is that they are not. No doubt Biden will handily win the larger cities, but Trump will probably dominate enough in the rural areas to eke out a close win.

Iowa: Joe Biden 5/4 odds 
Trump won Iowa by 9% in 2016 and likely would have trounced Biden this year, if not for COVID. But many Iowa residents are feeling the frustration of a failed policy and women in particular have turned away from Trump. Increasing younger graduates are also looking at Biden. Trump will almost certainly run the tables with farmers in the state thanks to huge subsidies he gave them after the Chinese trade war on products the farmers in Iowa produce, but the question is whether that will be enough. Current polls show the state as a toss-up and that is probably accurate. The only question is who has a bigger will, farmers to show their gratitude to Trump or women and educated younger people who want to see his ass kicked to the curb? When it is a true toss-up and one candidate is providing large odds, the value bet is on the underdog.

Mail in voting odds to win 2020 US presidentMichigan: Joe Biden 2/7 odds 
Generally considered a safe blue state, Trump shocked the world in 2016 by winning a narrow victory. The reasons mostly given for the Democrat loss were the inability to get enough black voters to the polls, the mishandling of some polling stations, a far better showing by women in the state for Trump and Hillary Clinton’s error of not visiting the state enough prior to the election, since she felt it was a sure thing. This year it will be different. Michigan residents have already voted in advance in droves with the vast majority indicating it was for Biden. College students overwhelmingly indicate they will be voting for Biden and both Biden and Kamala Harris have regularly visited the state. Most women who voted for Trump last time now seem to reject him, especially in the suburbs and the recent comments by Trump about Governor Gretchen Whitmer, suggesting she somehow may have been lying about a kidnapping plot, have almost certainly turned even his staunchest supporters off. Add to that the massive number of COVID cases in Michigan and the belief that Trump blew the response and killed the economy in the process and this should be a blowout. The only possible reason some Michigan voters may have turned back to Trump were his comments about phasing out the oil industry, but that likely won’t be enough. Biden currently leads in the polls by 9% in Michigan and this could be a blowout.  Bet $700 on Biden and enjoy your $200 profit.

Minnesota: Joe Biden 1/4 odds
Minnesota was too close for comfort for the Democrats in 2016 after Trump swept the rural areas and only lost to Hillary Clinton by 2%. For that reason, Minnesota seemed like a battleground, but this year it’s different. Even rural farmers seem to have turned on Trump citing his response to COVID and his failed trade policies that left Minnesota farmers in a lurch. The latest polls have Biden up by 12% and it is such a forgone conclusion who will win the state that Trump decided to pull ads from the state to focus on other battleground states instead. It is hard to believe that one can still get odds of less than 1 to 10 on Biden at this point, but you can bank on your 25-cent return on the dollar to be good in Minnesota.

Nevada: Joe Biden 2/7 odds 
Trump hoped to pick up Nevada this time around and still claims he is en route to doing so. But the latest polls have Biden ahead by almost 6%. The same reasons that Arizona has for choosing Biden applies here and it seems very few people in the state think that he has handled the Coronavirus well. Many casinos remain closed and those that have opened are not doing that well. Add to that the high number of COVID cases among casino employees and the consensus is that Trump simply blew the Coronavirus response, and the state is paying the price as a result. Reports indicate that younger voters, especially those with a college degree are overwhelmingly voting for Biden and the older demographic, which generally votes Republican, are also leaning to the Democrats this time because of the Coronavirus. 2/7 odds may not sound great, but it is still good value given Biden’s large lead in the polls.

North Carolina: Joe Biden 8/11 odds
Trump pined “why won’t suburban women like me. I saved your damn neighborhoods.” The truth about suburban women hating him holds true nowhere more clearly than in North Carolina. They despise him. That, along with the older population who clearly blame Trump for the raging Coronavirus and racial tensions have made what was generally a safe Republican state a toss-up. It is expected that the large college population will vote almost exclusively for Biden, meaning that Trump would probably have to sweep the rural areas to win. But even there, polls show that many rural folks seem leery of Trump. It was also telling after the last debate, a panel assembled by CNN in North Carolina unanimously felt Trump won the debate and almost to a ‘T’ they said they would be voting for Biden. There is no question this will be a close battle, but 8/11 odds seem like great value on Biden.

Ohio: Joe Biden 7/4 odds
No Republican has ever won the election without winning Ohio and Trump handily won in 2016. But many in the state are frustrated by increasing race relations that most believe were caused by Trump and they also blame him for the Coronavirus response. Undoubtedly, Biden will win handily in the cities and Trump will win handily in the rural areas, but the Biden team is banking on a huge turnout by black voters who have shunned elections previously and also a big push and change in votes for the Democrats in suburban areas, particularly among women. Advanced voting has been rampant in the state which will favor the Democrats and despite trailing by 4% in the polls, it seems Biden has a good shot at pulling off the upset here as Biden’s team campaigns hard to win the vote. This is strictly a value bet, but I'll take Biden to pull off a small win in Ohio.

Joe Biden President betting odds tipsPennsylvania: Joe Biden 4/9 odds 
Biden has been comfortably ahead in the state ever since Trump shocked the world by taking Pennsylvania in 2016 and the lead in the polls continues to hover between 6% and 8%. The black population has been extremely frustrated by racial tensions that they put squarely on the shoulders of Trump and the white rural women are all indicating they will vote for Biden as they say Trump has blown the pandemic response.  Advanced voting has been very high in the state so far with most exit polls indicating people voted for Biden. Trump got lucky here in 2016. He will not be so lucky this year and Biden will use his Scranton background to win Pennsylvania fairly handily at good odds.

Texas: Donald Trump 1/3 odds
Once a primarily blue state it turned red in 1980 with Ronald Reagan and has stayed a Republican stronghold since. Trump won by 9 points in 2016 and even Obama lost by double digits in the two elections prior. There was an indication that Texans were turning against Trump because of the high COVID cases in the state and because of heated race relations and the latest polls still show the race as a virtual deadlock. Can Biden really swing Texas? Nah. Trump at 1/3 odds seems like good value.

Wisconsin: Joe Biden 1/4 odds
Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 by a sliver and many say he did so due to voter suppression. But this year Trump is way behind and the lead keeps increasing, plus many have voted in advance. An ABC poll today actually shows Biden up by 17% in the state. As was the case with the rest of the country, the pandemic response has been viewed as the main reason the state has turned away from the Republicans and anyone who was on the fence in 2016 and voted for Trump seems to have climbed down from that fence and put themselves squarely in the Democrat camp. 1 to 4 odds may not be great, but it’s free money and likely will be the swing state with the largest margin of victory.

Presidential Prediction: It has been well documented that Trump must keep Florida, Pennsylvania and either Michigan or Wisconsin to win the election. He may win Florida, but the rest just seems out of reach. For that reason, Joe Biden at 1/2 odds seems to be the play for this election.

Other good U.S. Presidential election bets from William Hill:

- Joe Biden over 304 Electoral College votes at 2/1 odds
- Republicans under 50 senate seats 4/7 odds
- Democrats to win control of the House, Senate and Whitehouse in 2020 at 2/3 odds.

Read insights from Hartley Henderson every week here at OSGA and check out Hartley's RUMOR MILL!

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