Next Monday New York will host the first ‘US Presidential’ TV debate. With nationwide US Election polls tightening, the race to the White House is expected to go down to the wire.
SBC’s ‘Bookies Corner’ gets the lowdown on ‘Clinton Vs Trump,’ with just 45 days to go until America hits the polls (8 November), the US Election has become the industry’s most intriguing market.
William Hill’s Graham Sharpe (Political Lead), Unibet’s Ed Nicholson (Head of UK), Ladbrokes Matthew Shaddick (Head of Political Betting) and Pinnacle’s Harry Lang (Chief Marketing Officer) offer insight and opinion.
SBC: Will the much anticipated live TV debates have any impact on the US Election outcome?
Graham Sharpe: There will be every opportunity for one of the candidates to make a verbal blunder which cold cost them in the short term, but both will have been well coached on all likely controversial subjects.
I think Hillary will be under more pressure as everyone expects Trump to say outrageous things and he and his supporters will be well aware that the media will be looking to make a headline out of even the most innocuous comment which they think they will be able to hype up.
I don’t see the betting market changing markedly for verbal reasons and suspect that if there is to be a significant move one way or the other it will be for reasons which can’t be predicted in advance.
Hillary is definitely under more pressure as a result of her recent health issues in my opinion, and I expect the betting will close up slightly between the two front-runners once the debating is over.
SBC: US broadcasters expect record breaking viewing figures for a political debate, which candidate will be under more pressure to perform come Monday night?
Ed Nicholson: We believe the biggest pressure will be on Clinton; she is the better debater, so more is expected of her.
She also has the spotlight on her because of the health issues, so she needs to be energetic and lively. She has the most to lose.
Given her recent health issues, many people will be looking to see if she is able to stand through the whole debate without buckling. If she appears too pale or worse still not able to stand on her feet, that will surely be remarked upon and would end up being a talking point for weeks, something the Clinton campaign can’t afford.
Regarding what she actually says – the most important thing for her would be to keep the focus on policy and how policies will be implemented as that is where Trump is weakest.
If Hillary is perceived to have done better than Trump, I would expect the gap to widen a little in the polls, maybe just above the margin of error. However, if Hillary is upstaged by Trump, we could see a shift in the polls with the Republicans gaining a very small but constant lead.
We don’t expect much concerning policy from Trump – he might give us the usual ‘wall’ promise and a focus on immigration and security. The potential pitfalls for him would be generalising on any set of the electorate, like Latinos or African Americans, and he needs to be especially wary on jokes regarding women as that is a big Clinton card.
SBC: Coming into the final months of campaigning what key attributes and measures are bookmakers looking to gather from the two candidates?
Matthew Shaddick: I’d say most of the extra factors that aren’t already baked into the polls seem to be marginally in Clinton’s favour.
The relatively high number of people saying they will vote for a 3rd party. The evidence suggests that, if pushed, most of those prefer Clinton. So, if we see a drift back to the main parties from Johnson & Stein voters, that might help Hillary.
However, the Democrats are generally thought to have a better ground game and their Get Out The Vote efforts should give Clinton an extra edge on polling day. Furthermore, the US economic numbers seem to be improving. That tends to help the incumbent party.
The debates don’t usually end up making much difference, but I’d say there’s more chance they could help Trump, as expectations are set lower for him. He’s quite good at bluffing his way through issues that he knows nothing about and, if he can put on a composed, measured performance, he might get a bit of a bounce out of these.
SBC: Is a Donald Trump White House victory a bigger industry story than Leicester City winning the Premier League?
Harry Lang: In betting terms the 5,000 to 1 odds some lucky punters snaffled on LCFC winning the EPL before last season are unlikely ever to be surpassed. Every bookie has been through their long-shot special bets roster with a fine tooth comb, slashing their prices to defend against such an incredibly unlikely event from ever burning them again.
By comparison, Donald is 2.679 at Pinnacle (at the time of writing) to beat Hillary in the upcoming election which makes a Trump victory look eminently achievable*. Also, it’s worth remembering that every major UK bookie had Brexit at a longer price than Trumps current odds in the lead up the Referendum, so stranger things have indeed happened in recent political history. However when Leicester won the title Jamie Vardy had a party, and Leicester’s GDP flatlined for a couple of months. Many feel the effects of a Republican Party victory would be somewhat more significant for both U.S. citizens and the world at large, and this needs to be factored into the potential result of the election.
As J.K. Galbraith sagely noted: – “Politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.” In the context of the question, Leicester City’s victory was just a costly anecdote for some in the betting industry rather than a two horse race with significant global ramifications. That said, the fact that some people won significant amounts on Leicester for a tiny outlay will have encouraged more bettors to have a flutter – which is ultimately good news for the betting industry as a whole.