Political Betting: Top Tips For Betting On The Presidential Primaries

Political Betting: Top Tips For Betting On The Presidential Primaries

Political betting expert, Paul Krishnamurty, offers his tips on where you should be putting your money at the kick-off of the presidential primaries:

  • He expects Sanders to win the opening three races and for Biden to underperform.
  • Warren’s current odds are good value – Back her now and look to cover later.
  • The key date to watch is Super Tuesday – March 3.
  • Bookies’ odds vastly overstate Bloomberg’s potential.
  • After Super Tuesday, Sanders will lead, with Warren and Biden fighting out second place.


BERNIE SANDERS                    2.7
JOE BIDEN                                  3.2
ELIZABETH WARREN            19.0
HILLARY CLINTON                 25.0
PETE BUTTIGIEG                     28.0
ANDREW YANG                        46.0
AMY KLOBUCHAR                   55.0
MICHELLE OBAMA                 120.0

What are primaries and how do they work?

Presidential primaries are the electoral process to determine the candidates representing the main parties. Starting on February 3 and lasting several months, registered Democrats and would-be supporters in each state will vote for their preferred candidate.

The winners and prominent performers in each race are duly awarded delegates. Each race in each state is a betting heat in its own right. Each race is live a betting heat in its own right. Betfair markets will stay open until all the votes are counted, with the often odds fluctuating wildly as results emerge, district by district.

Those delegates then move forward to the party convention in July, where they are duty bound to support the chosen candidate in the first round of voting. In total, 3,979 delegates are awarded. If anyone wins a majority, they will automatically be crowned following the first round of voting at the convention.

However if the leader falls short of 50%, further rounds of voting are needed, where they would need the backing of other candidates or ‘superdelegates’ (prominent Democrats).

In theory, the nomination could be contested at this stage but such a scenario is rare. More on that later.


BERNIE SANDERS                   1.75
JOE BIDEN                                 3.85
PETE BUTTIGIEG                   10.5
ELIZABETH WARREN           14.5
AMY KLOBUCHAR                  55.0


BERNIE SANDERS                   1.43
JOE BIDEN                                 7.2
PETE BUTTIGIEG                    9.2
ELIZABETH WARREN           15.5
AMY KLOBUCHAR                  70.0

Primary season starts, as usual, at the Iowa Caucuses.

One week later, they move onto the New Hampshire Primary. These two states only provide merely 2% of the total delegates so slow starters can certainly come back. History, however, is against them doing so. The last presidential candidate to lose both IA and NH was Bill Clinton, 28 years ago.

There are two further important races in February: Nevada and South Carolina.

These two states have rather different demographics to IA and NH, so could very well produce a different result. Biden, for example, is clear favourite for the latter because he is polling much better among black voters than his rivals.

Sanders poised to gain early advantage

Whether in polls or betting, Bernie Sanders has the momentum in these opening two races.

He nearly pulled off a massive upset in IA in 2016, before trouncing Hillary Clinton in NH, which neighbours his state of Vermont. He has the best ground game, online machine and key endorsements from the likes of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.

There are, nevertheless, several unknowns. Roughly half of voters are undecided. Latest polls suggest Elizabeth Warren is gaining ground among them. Pete Buttigieg also has upwards potential.

A large bloc of Democrats opposes Sanders, and their behaviour remains unpredictable. There is talk, for instance, of a tactical alignment between Biden and Klobuchar voters in Iowa. This bloc may well be underestimated in polls, given that turnout is likely to increase vastly on 2016, driven by moderates and independents opposed to President Trump.

Here’s how I see these early stages panning out.

I expect Sanders to win the opening three races. Biden – whose status is driven by name recognition and familiarity – will underperform, raising big doubts about his potential to stay the course and denting his superiority in South Carolina.

Warren will stay competitive. Her current odds of are great value. The Democrats’ mid-term victory (their best since Watergate) was powered by women, whether as candidates or voters. Unless Klobuchar improves rapidly, Warren will be the sole woman left in with a chance. Back her now and look to cover later.

Were Biden to hold on in South Carolina, everything opens up. The key date to watch is Super Tuesday – March 3.

More than a third of delegates will be distributed across 15 races. California and Texas will be pivotal as combined, they provide 16% of the entire total. The next month is all about positioning and building momentum for that day.

Therefore a candidate who makes Super Tuesday their main focus – see Mike Bloomberg – could potentially usurp the early front-runners. The former Republican and Independent Mayor of NYC – a staunch opponent of Trump – is blanketing these states with ads, and gaining some traction in polls.

To win this way, having skipped the debates, would be unprecedented and extraordinary, but he certainly has the money to bankroll it.

In my view, the odds vastly overstate Bloomberg’s potential. He needs Biden to fail badly, then convert his supporters, in a matter of weeks. It isn’t that simple.

Biden is highly unlikely to withdraw early and even if he did, supporters will switch to various candidates. This party of the Left is highly unlikely to back a billionaire and former representative of their mortal enemies.

My prediction is that, after Super Tuesday, Sanders will lead, with Warren and Biden fighting out second place. There will be simultaneous calls – by moderates for a unity candidate, and by Sanders supporters for Warren to concede, thus transferring her (largely progressive) supporters.

In this sense, it will be reminiscent of the Republican race in 2016. Then so-called ‘establishment Republicans’ tried to organise a ‘Never Trump’ movement. It backfired.

Overtly blocking Bernie will strengthen him. Moderates will end up either going with Warren as the unity candidate (who is somewhat to their Left) or accepting Sanders.

Could somebody else come into it?

As explained above, the winner must gain a majority of delegates to win on the first round of voting at the convention. If failing, rules can change in later rounds and, in theory, a new candidate could come forward. Afficionados of House of Cards will recall the chaotic process to shoehorn Claire Underwood into the Vice Presidential nomination.

Such antics would be dramatic and incredibly controversial. Nevertheless people will bet on it.

In 2016, GOP Speaker Paul Ryan was backed heavily into around 15.0 despite never entering the race. So too Chris Christie in 2012. The one they are backing this time is Hillary Clinton. The mere mention of her name drives clicks so speculation will doubtless persist.

Don’t believe the hype.

All odds taken from Betfair, correct as of 30.01.20. Please check the markets to see latest odds changes.