A fortnight ago, we discussed how the race to be the Democrat nominee in November’s US General Election was developing ahead of the biggest single day of primary season, into a straight choice between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden - as the latter was rapidly hoovering up support from rival candidates, united around a ‘Stop Bernie’ plan.
Super Tuesday, and it’s lesser sequel, have since passed. They could barely have gone better for Biden, who is now overwhelming favourite. Following last night’s head-to-head debate, the former Vice President is best priced at a mere 1.1 for the nomination (Ladbrokes) and 2.2 for the presidency (Betfair).
Biden set to dominate Super Tuesday 3
Tomorrow is Super Tuesday 3 which both polling and betting market signals simply will be the effective end of the contest. Of the four states in play - Florida, Ohio, Arizona and Illinois - Biden leads by double-digit margins. The biggest odds about Biden for any of them (on the Betfair Exchange) is a mere 1.03 (equivalent to a 97% chance).
It remains to be seen whether, in the face of that likely thrashing, Sanders withdraws from the race. Regardless of that tactical decision, bettors will mostly shift focus to latter targets.
Primarily that means the probable Biden v Trump match-up - currently tied at 2.2 (Betfair) - but first, the former must choose a running mate. Biden offered an important clue to resolving this wide-open market last night by saying he would pick a woman. Whilst helpful in whittling the candidates, this was no surprise. It was long obvious that, representing a party that relies on winning women voters, he would need to balance the ticket.
Biden must now choose which segment of voters are most important to pursue. African Americans (especially women) are a core part of the Democrat base. Lower turnout among them in key states proved the difference between success and failure for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Attracting Hispanic voters to the polls - a fast growing demographic amongst whom turnout has big growth potential - is another Democrat priority. The party's best mid-term result in over 40 years, plus their strong position in national polls, was built on the transfer of white, largely college educated, women in swing districts.
Whilst none of these groups are mutually exclusive - and may ultimately unite around Biden whoever he picks, because removing Donald Trump is their priority - some candidates are stronger than others with each cohort. Ideology is another important factor, arguably more so than identity, given the need to unite the liberal and left vote.
Kamala Harris looks a weak favourite
Three black women are very prominent in the betting. Kamala Harris - an early favourite for the nomination - is favourite at a best price of 3.5 (Unibet). For me, such prohibitive odds make no appeal. Whilst Harris has strong credentials, her home state of California is already sure to vote Democrat, reducing any extra advantage. Plus this lawyer (former CA Attorney General) may well be under consideration for the Supreme Court - Biden has pledged to nominate a woman of colour.
Stacey Abrams is preferred at 5/1 (Unibet). She has tremendous grassroots appeal and is widely regarded a rising star, long touted for this role and as a future presidential candidate. I've already backed her and the lesser known Val Demings at 25-1 (Betfair). She represents a district in the ever pivotal state of Florida.
Were Biden to choose a Hispanic, only two plausible candidates spring to mind. Michelle Lujan Grisham is Governor of New Mexico. Catherine Cortez Masto is Senator for Nevada. Both states will likely vote Democrat anyway, but a Hispanic on the ticket would be a huge help in the marginal state of Arizona and even Texas.
Amy Klobuchar is second favourite at 4/1. Again, she is one of Biden's defeated rivals although, unlike Harris, her reputation rose as the race developed. If white, suburban women are the priority, she is the one. Senator for Minnesota, she enjoyed a superb mid-term result, increasing her majority in a state that is moving away from the Democrats.
I've no doubt Klobuchar is on the short list and will be prominent, both during the campaign and in a Biden administration, should he win. However her political leanings are very similar to the main candidate. It makes dubious sense to create an all-white, all-centrist ticket.
Warren is the candidate to unite the party
In contrast, Elizabeth Warren (12/1 Paddy Power) could be the one to energise all parts of the Democrat base. Many expected her to endorse Sanders after withdrawing but that seems highly unlikely now. Rather, Biden has adopted some of her positions, perhaps signalling a future alliance.
One more notable female remains prominent. Hillary Clinton is also second favourite (ahead of Sanders) for the nomination. I cannot stress enough how bad a bet she is. In fact, the losing 2016 candidate is emblematic of a peril that punters should avoid in political betting nowadays - fake news.
Fake online Clinton news is prevalant yet again
Clinton is so famous, and such a hate figure to Republicans, that online media know they can generate more clicks with the mere mention of her name. I cannot think of a political figure to have been the butt of more fake stories in the last 25 years. In 2016, she was reported to be dead, dying, a murderer, a demon and in charge of a paedophile ring. Now she's waiting in the wings to take over when Biden withdraws due to 'cognitive decline'. This is a prevalent talking point.
Even if Clinton were plotting behind the scenes to snatch the nomination at the convention, no way would the party pick her. Nor will Biden. The evidence from these primaries and Biden polls against Trump emphasise what a weak candidate she was. In the aftermath of her shock defeat, far too much emphasis was placed on Trump's astonishing achievement than her failure. If you're able to tie up money for the next few months, laying her on Betfair for the nomination, presidency and vice presidency offers an easy return.