The US 2016 Presidential Election – A Betting Story

The odds for Donald Trump, which started out at 150/1, fell to 10/11 as The Donald became the bookmakers’ favourite for the next POTUS for the first time at around 3am (GMT) this morning.

By 6.30am (GMT) it was as good as over. Trump had 248 electoral votes (to Clinton’s 218) with only 22 more needed. In his speech delivered shortly before 8am, to chants of USA, USA, Trump confirmed he had just received a call from Hillary Clinton conceding defeat. 

Mike Smithson, the man behind PoliticalBetting.com, commented on the moment Trump became the bookies’ favourite and followed it up with a stark and startling reminder of what this meant.

Alarm bells at Clinton HQ began ringing relatively early on. As the results came in Michigan appeared to have fallen to Trump, Ohio fell to Trump, Florida fell to Trump and New Hampshire was far, far too close for comfort. Later on, Pennsylvania fell to Trump. You can review the state by state results here.

Ohio was one where the polls generally got it right. A highly important swing state, the businessman turned anti-politician won with over 52% of votes cast.

Before the polls started coming in, and when the operator’s odds were at ⅙ Clinton and 9/2 Trump, SunBets Head of PR Tim Reynolds said: “It’s fair to say there’s been minimal movement in the odds on the winner today, very much the ‘calm before the storm’ as the world waits for exit polling later this evening. As things stand Clinton has about a 85% chance of winning at odds odds-on price of 1/6, but we’re yet to see any particularly big money for a first female president. It’s all been Trump at 4/1 or 9/2 so far at punter-friendly prices, although maybe that’s due to our demographic of customer?!”

“The most interesting money we’ve seen today has been placed on a high overall turnout, which is in line with reporting that the Hispanic turnout is said to be high. An overall turnout of between 57-61% would be our estimation at the moment, which given Hispanic voting is higher than normal bodes well for the Clinton camp.”

The eve of the election Betfair saw 80% of bets placed on Clinton. As late as 10pm (GMT) Ladbrokes tweeted that they’d taken a £120,000 bet at odds of ⅙ on Hillary Clinton.

For the most part though a Trump victory was a blow to bookmakers. In terms of bets placed, the US election mirrored Brexit in an undeniable fashion. The larger money was typically staked on Clinton (Remain) but there was a higher volume of bets on Trump (Leave).

William Hill’s Graham Sharpe stated that the bookmaker had taken just three bets when odds on Trump were at 150/1; a Devonian staked £1, £16.67 from a customer in Leicestershire and £50 from a punter in Northern Ireland.

Few believed it could happen at this point. And for many this denial continued until the early hours of this morning. Oddschecker put together a detailed betting odds timeline of Trump beginning in October 2015. This was not a conventional election, and Trump was far from a conventional candidate.

In a bid to explain the likely outcome many news stations, such as CNN, stated that pollsters had underestimated turnout in rural areas and that this had played into the hands of the Republican party. This idea of Trump supporters as all uneducated country folk though is false; as the state by state voting proves enough white collar professionals were swayed by him too.

At 3.30am (GMT) Trump was at 150 to Clinton’s 109 in the race to 270. Trump’s 168 to Clinton’s 131 shortly before 4am at which point Betfred commented that the New York Times saying it was a 91% chance Trump would win. Florida seemed to be slipping away at this time, and the financial markets began to react. Many Americans were apparently thinking of a Plan B and Aussie sportsbook Sportsbet.com noted that the Canadian immigration site had crashed around this same time.

Mike Smithson pointed out the scale of the US Presidential market at around this time on Twitter, and noted that the total amount matched on Betfair Next President market was an exceptional £173,860,563.

William Hill took £4m on the outcome of the US Election – a record total for any political betting event. The traditional bookmaking industry took some £20m in total. 74% of all stakes on the outcome were for Hillary Clinton, but 71% of all the individual bets staked were for Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump started as a 150/1 no hoper, but was very well backed, albeit in smaller amounts than we accepted for long-time favourite Hillary Clinton. This campaign absolutely decimated all previous political betting records and shows what a popular betting subject politics is,” said Hill’s spokesman Graham Sharpe.

“The US Election statistics reflect almost identically the division of stakes and bets for Brexit. The odds on the day for the two candidates were almost idential to the Remain/Leave odds on EU Ref day. Brexit became favourite for the first time just before 2am on EU Ref night, Trump at just after 2am on polling night.”

Commentators on NBC News discussed the anti-establishment factor in the Trump vote, and how the economy, in Michigan for instance, was highlighted as an important consideration amongst voters there. Trump’s promises and his vague plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ evidently resonated with this frustrated and angry electorate.

At 5am (GMT) it was at 244 to 209 at which point Clinton had climbed as high as 20/1 and Trump moved to 1/66 with Sky Bet and Bet365.

Not long ago at Betting on Sports 2016, SBC Content Director Ted Menmuir asked those on the political panel, what with Brexit, Leicester winning the Premier League, and Trump looking like he had a shot… could we get some odds for the end of the world?

With Trump now in the White House, it’s one market that might be a little too alarming to price up.

Let’s not forget that this is a man who has referred to global warming as a hoax on more than one occasion, called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”, a man who has laughed off sexual assault and who said of nuclear weapons.. “If we have them, why can’t we use them?”.

The President of the United States ladies and gentlemen. And just think, you could have had him at 150/1.

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