‘Absolutely remarkable’: Oddsmaker says 2020 election already the ‘most bet-on event in history’

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A British oddsmaker told Mediate’s Dan Abrams Wednesday that the 2020 election in the United States has become the “most bet-on” in the country’s history, with a staggering $260 million on the line.

Pete Watt of OddsCheckerUS told Abrams’ SiriusXM program that the amount bet on the 2020 election thus far surpassed the total wagered on the 2016 election earlier this month.

“The 2020 election is the most bet-on event in history,” Watt said. “There’s been over $260 million laid down. Again, for scale that exceeds what was wagered on the last Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby, NBA Finals, and the Mayweather-MacGregor fight put together.

“It’s absolutely remarkable given that betting activity is only going to increase with just five days still to go. With such a huge amount already laid down, it would take a monumental bet or a monumental series of bets to shake up these odds with just over 100 hours to go,” he added.

As of Wednesday, the country was six days out from Election Day, when a majority of voters who turn out at the polls are expected to cast ballots for President Donald Trump, while a majority of voters mailing in ballots are expected to cast them for his Democratic rival, Joe Biden.

Watt said at the time of his interview that current odds for the president winning were +188, meaning a $10 bet would pay out $28.80 if he wins, for a probability of 34.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the odds for Biden, who is now embroiled in a major corruption scandal involving him and his family, are better at -190. That means a $10 bet for him would only result in a payout of $15.26 for a probability of roughly 65.5 percent.

Mediate noted that those odds for Trump are better than the average polling at FiveThirtyEight and The Economist. The president’s current odds of winning are 11 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

The betting odds have shifted over the course of this year.

In April, oddsmakers in all three models for Moody’s predicted a Trump landslide mostly due to the pre-COVID-19 economy he and Republicans built through a combination of tax reform law and economic policies from the White House.

But the president’s fortunes began to slip as the country’s economy tanked thanks to widespread shutdowns which endure to this day in many parts of the country, most run by Democrats.

“Presidents who are in recessions tend to lose, and presidents who are not in recessions tend to win,” GOP strategist Karl Rove told Fox & Friends earlier this year. “But we have never been in a circumstance like this where the country has suffered economic contraction because of a virus this close to a presidential election.”

Then, he predicted that most Americans would not blame Trump for the pandemic but would instead judge him on how he navigated the economic recovery.

“Their question is going to be: ‘Does he seem to be doing the things that are reasonable and prudent to get us back to economic health as rapidly as possible?’” Rove said. “[Voters] are going to say, ‘How does he seem to be handling this? and, ‘Does he seem to be moving us in the right direction?’”

For his part, the president has regularly touted how the economy has bounced back, especially in parts of the country that are reopening faster than others — which is something he has no control over.

On that note, Fox Business Network reported Thursday that, according to initial Commerce Department data, the U.S. economy expanded at an enormous, and historic rate — 33.1 percent — in the third quarter (July-September).

Economists, on average, expected a 31 percent expansion — still a record, and nearly enough to erase a historic decline in economic output during the second quarter (April-June) of 31.4 percent.

U.S. gross domestic product, the total output of goods and services, is still 3.9 percent below where it was at this point in 2019. However, given that large swaths of the country remain in shutdown mode, for the economy to have bounced back to the degree it has will be viewed as remarkable to millions of Americans as the unemployment rate dipped to 7.9 percent from a shutdown high of more than 14 percent in March.

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Jon Dougherty

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