50 Bucks Says Biden Wins Florida

Guest Columnist

I placed this bet on Predictit, a political betting site, not because I want Biden to win, though I do, but because I believe there is more than a 55% chance that he will win Florida.

For 65 years, I have followed politics obsessively and decided that I should put some of this knowledge to work and place a bet on myself to get some objective feedback on how prescient I can be.

I have lots of friends who bet on sports and they say placing a bet makes the games much more enjoyable and interesting to them. Many of my friends say they can’t watch a basketball game or a football game without having a bet on it.

In fact, I even have some friends who are professional sports gamblers and they are in constant touch with analysts around the world and share their knowledge and inside tips. Last year, one friend and his gambling team beat the odds on women’s professional basketball by more than 20% over the bookies by analyzing how well the star players had fared in games played 30 days ago. After that, their main problem was convincing the LA bookies to keep taking their bets. They had to switch to local bookies in New York, Las Vegas and Miami to get any action.

This is my first bet on a political betting site. I figure it will spur me to stay updated on the candidates, initiatives and current events in an even more compulsive way than I normally do.

I’m sure many can relate that It’s difficult to discuss politics with friends these days. Discussions can quickly escalate to shouting matches and each side calling the other ignorant. One of my best friends calls Trump “disgusting” but says he’s going to vote for him anyway.

Betting will allow me to come up with facts and figures from polls and betting odds, instead of me just mouthing off.

And it seems I’m not alone in this newfound pastime. Political betting is one of the fastest growing betting markets in the world. As of right now, billions of dollars will be wagered on the coming 2020 Presidential election.

During past elections, the betting sites predicted the outcomes with more certainty and efficiency than the pundits, the media, or the polls.

When people have to put real money down, they tend to be more hard-headed than when they are just answering a pollster.

Sports betting markets have long been able to predict the outcome of sporting events more than sports writers or anyone in the media.

All year, Joe Biden has been ahead of Donald Trump in the polls by 6% to 8%. In contrast, the Real Clear Politics average betting odds had the President ahead by 15% most of last Spring until Biden pulled ahead on June 2.

Throughout July and August, Biden has held a steady lead in the betting odds of about 20% but lately this lead has dropped to 6.2% as of August 27th. The Biden lead will probably shrink again to about 3% after the Republican Convention effect kicks in.

Many pollsters think that Trump has a 3% hidden tranche of voters — who are reluctant to tell pollsters they will vote for Trump —  which makes the race close to even at this point.

Predictit.com is the only legal betting site in the U.S. and is owned by Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. It operates in a gray area. It isn’t classified as illegal gambling either in New Zealand or in the United States. Betting is limited to $850 on each issue. Noted political consultant James Carville called it “the most exciting engines I’ve come across in terms of political opinion.”

Betfair is the world’s largest betting exchange for odds on American elections and it’s much more “efficient” than Predictit because odds are set by the oddsmakers themselves and where the action is much larger. But Americans are not allowed to bet on it.

With less than three months until Election Day, the stakes are rising. Trump slightly trails behind Joe Biden across six key battleground states. These states will decide the election and the fate of many bets placed on Betfair and Predictit, including mine.

Florida and Pennsylvania are the two leading contenders for the tipping point in the election according to Predictit bets. Meaning that in all likelihood, whoever wins these states will become president.

The Pandemic is Joe Biden’s strongest issue and public concerns have faded slightly in seven swing states: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 66% of likely voters said they have serious concerns about COVID-19, according to a survey released Wednesday. This is down from 69% concerned in a poll taken two weeks earlier. The share of respondents who said they have “very serious” concerns about the coronavirus dropped to 45% from 49%, according to Predicit.

So if the pandemic rages on, if there are more deaths, and the economy doesn’t come back, Trump may just be the comeback kid my bet wasn’t accounting for.

Blake Fleetwood was a reporter for the New York Times and has written for many other major newspapers and magazines

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2 Responses for “50 Bucks Says Biden Wins Florida”

  1. Dean Case says:

    I think he is smoking something.

  2. JM says:

    I would put down 5000 on FL for Trump if I can find a bookie to accept that and state by state bets

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