Donald Trump’s odds of winning the US Presidential election have halved – but he still remains a long shot to walk into the Oval Office.
The revelation that the FBI has reopened its investigation into his Democratic opponent Hilary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server while Secretary of State is the latest scandal to impact upon the race. While Trump had been trading at around 5-1 when I analysed the betting markets last Wednesday, his price fell to as low as 2-1 over the weekend. At the time of writing several bookies went going 9-4 on a Trump victory although it wasn’t hard to find the reality TV star and businessman at 11-4.
That latter price implies that he has a 26.7 per cent chance of winning, compared to 16.7 per cent implied by his pervious odds of 5-1. It’s a considerable move in his favour.
By contrast FiveThrityEight, which uses polling and other data to produce its forecasts, rates his chance at 21 per cent using a polls only model and 23 per cent using polls plus historical and economic data. So while there appears to be little value in backing Trump at 11-4, Clinton at 1-3 looks under priced.
Part of the betting move has been fuelled by a string of polls that suggest the race is tightening. The BBC’s latest polls of polls, which uses the median average of the five most recent national US polls, has Clinton at 49 per cent and Trump at 46 per cent. The Washington Post-ABC tracking poll has Clinton at 46 per cent and Trump at 45 per cent, including third party candidates.
FiveThirtyEight’s Nat Silver, however, notes that Trump had been enjoying a surge in support before Friday’s news about Clinton’s e-mail server, which might have had less of an impact than some commentators suggested, perhaps because it is already on Clinton’s “rap sheet”. It is therefore open to debate whether Friday’s news, by itself, will have changed many people’s views about her.
If the prospect of Trump in the White House makes you shudder, the fact that betting patterns on the US election so closely mirror the betting patterns seen ahead of the UK’s EU referendum, with smaller punters who backed Brexit backing Trump while big money punters who backed remain backing Clinton, is worrying enough. The latest Trump surge will have exacerbated those worries.