Trump Or Biden For US President? – Bookmakers Unsure
September 16, 2020
The 2020 US Presidential election will take place on Tuesday, 3 November. With less than two months to go, the outcome remains unclear and it looks likely that the battle between incumbent Republican President Donald Trump and his Democrat challenger, Joe Biden, will go to the wire.
There are 50 states in the United States, and they are allocated delegates on the approximate basis of their population size. There are 538 delegates in total and they are voted in by American voters. This Electoral College system requires the successful candidate to achieve 270 or more delegates. The results of the majority of the 50 states are very predictable so the campaign teams for Trump and Biden tend to focus on the swing states, where the level of support for the Democrats and the Republicans is pretty evenly split. Swing states include Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Political commentators think this list may be incomplete and suggest that the list should include Texas, Georgia, Minnesota and Arizona as potential swing states.
This time round there are a number of new factors to take into account when trying to predict the outcome of the Presidential election. For example, postal voting – much criticised by Trump – is likely to be used far more than previously due to the coronavirus pandemic and so events or campaigning immediately before 3 November may not influence the outcome. Support for the handling of the pandemic by Trump has split largely along party lines but with over 6 million Americans infected and some 195,000 deaths to date, there is no doubt that issues pertaining to the pandemic must be factored in when considering the outcome of the election. The performance of the economy as the country struggles with the pandemic will be vitally important to undecided voters as the campaigning proceeds.
The US pollsters did not predict the success of Donald Trump against his then-opponent Hilary Clinton in the 2016 elections. Clinton achieved almost 2.9 million more votes than Trump but ultimately did not secure the presidency as Trump scored more delegates. Part of the reason for this failure on the part of the pollsters was that the majority of undecided voters decided to back Trump, which is something that was not predicted. However, the pollsters are confident that their systems are now more robust and therefore that the outcome can be better predicted. In addition, it is expected that there will be fewer undecided voters this time round, as support for the two candidates has polarised.
On the basis of current national polls, Joe Biden will be the next US President. He leads in the five swing states listed above, and also leads in the potential swing state of Arizona. If the polls are correct, on this basis Biden would score a win with 334 delegates. But no-one can be certain of this outcome, least of all Joe Biden, in light of the failure of the 2016 poll predictions, the uncertainty regarding turnout, the increased use of postal voting and the progress of the pandemic itself.
Bookmakers are therefore unable to separate the candidates at the moment. Biden had been clear favourite until the past few weeks but now bookie Betfred offer best odds of 10/11. With best odds for a Trump win being evens with William Hill and Skybet, there is very little to choose between the two presidential candidates.