I'll be the first to say that betting sports is a lot more exciting to me than betting on politics/elections. Still, the fact remains: money is money and if there are ways to get an edge on the books, I'm always glad to find them. I've done extremely well betting on elections in the past, and I'm happy to be able to write about this election here at BangtheBook. Back in the primary season, I gave out some free plays on BangtheBook Radio, and those were very successful. Hopefully the general election thoughts are able to help some people as well.
This will be a once a month article. This is my August article with some thoughts and analysis. There will then be another article sometime in September, October, and then finally one last article in early November right before the election.
Additionally, I feel like this is the perfect election cycle for me to break down and give totally unbiased thoughts. There's not a single candidate in the race that I like. When it comes to pulling the lever, that isn't a good thing. When it comes to breaking down election odds, that's a tremendous thing.
Let's take a look first at the overall odds on this 2016 Presidential Election. As of August 4 at 5 pm eastern- BetDSI has Hillary Clinton favored at -486. Donald Trump is listed at +351. 5Dimes lists Clinton as the favorite at -340 and Trump at +310. Who else is listed? At 5Dimes, there are several other options. Paul Ryan is +8,000. Bernie Sanders is +8,000 as well. The other names listed are Joe Biden (+27,500) and Gary Johnson (+31,500). Johnson is the Libertarian Party candidate this year. When it comes to Ryan, Sanders, and Biden those are just potential names if something major were to change. As it is, Donald Trump is the Republican Party candidate and Hillary Clinton is the Democratic Party candidate.
In sports betting, I am never one to lay a big price. I never lay more than -150 in baseball and almost never do it in any of the other major sports. You are going to have to lay more than that sometimes though if you are going to take advantage of the soft election lines. Why is this the case? Because this country is split pretty close to right down the middle as many of the recent close elections have shown. Since 2000, the biggest "blowout" was a 7 percent win by Barack Obama over John McCain in 2008.
More and more people are betting on elections. Who do you think a Donald Trump backer is likely to want to bet on? Who do you think a Hillary Clinton backer is likely to want to bet on? The answers to these questions are obvious, and that also tells you why some of the individual state odds are shorter than they should be in some cases. I've made a lot of money over the years taking Democrats to win in places like New York and Republicans to win in places like Oklahoma. Even in states where the winner is just about 100 percent decided months before the election, the oddsmakers can't put that kind of line on it. Playing against the fact that people want to bet on their candidate even in a spot where they have no chance can be a very good strategy. Betting the big favorites isn't the only strategy though, and there can often be some good underdog fliers throughout the election cycle.
I don't see a lot of value in the overall winner odds right now, so let's take a look at a few quick individual state election odds. Note that on these the books list them as which party will win the electoral votes rather than listing a name. For example, If Donald Trump would happen to not run for some reason and Paul Ryan runs and wins the state of Oklahoma, if you have the Republican to win Oklahoma you will cash in.
New York is the first state I'll look at today. 5Dimes is the only place I can find odds for this state. The Democratic candidate is at -1,050 here. This implies a 91.3% chance of Hillary Clinton winning New York. I think the odds are more like 99%. In the last two Presidential elections, the Democratic candidate won by 27% and 28% in New York. Some Donald Trump backers think he can win New York because he is from the state. He can't. Clinton will run up massive margins in New York City and Trump will struggle to win anywhere. There is no such thing as a sure thing, but this is very close. I have my money on the Democratic candidate in New York. *Note- This line was -600 at 5Dimes on Monday. I expect it to continue to rise.*
In Arizona, BetDSI has the Republican candidate at -220 and the Democratic candidate at +173. 5Dimes has the Republican at -230 and Democrat at +170. This is one to keep an eye on. Recent polls here are mixed, and Donald Trump's standing among Hispanic voters isn't good at all right now. In Arizona, 31% of the population is Hispanic, which is the fourth highest percentage of any state in the country. Recent polls show a nearly tied race. I haven't bet this one myself yet, but if I did, I'd take the Democratic candidate at the underdog price.
In Wisconsin, the Democratic candidate is -490 at 5Dimes and the Republican candidate is at +330. Wisconsin has turned pretty hard to the left in the last couple election cycles, and I don't see it going back this time. -490 implies an 83% chance of the Democrat winning here. I think it is more like 90 or even 95%. Barack Obama won Wisconsin by 7% and 14% in 2012 and 2008. Donald Trump was beaten badly by Ted Cruz in Wisconsin in the GOP Primary, so I doubt there is much enthusiasm for Trump in this state. I'm on the Democratic candidate at -490 here.
We'll get into even more state odds in the next article in September, but with this one I wanted to give you some background and a peak into how I believe you can find value betting on elections.
You've probably figured out by now that at this point I think Hillary Clinton is likely to win the election. I'm not betting her at the price she is at overall though, because I believe these individual state odds have more value. Election cycles are very fluid though, and things could look a lot different when I take a closer look at the odds in September. Stay tuned!