Political Bettors Get It Wrong, as Democrat Doug Jones Upsets Republican Roy Moore in Alabama Special Election

Posted on: December 13, 2017, 09:10h. 

Last updated on: December 13, 2017, 09:21h.

Prediction bettors and gamblers placing financial wagers at overseas sportsbooks like Paddy Power are counting their losses this morning, after Democrat Doug Jones pulled off an upset against Republican Roy Moore in the special Alabama election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ seat on Tuesday.

political bettors Alabama Senate race
Alabama is replacing Jeff Sessions with Democrat Doug Jones, a result few political bettors saw coming. (Image: Brynn Anderson/Associated Press)

The majority of political bettors just couldn’t see Jones’ path to the US Senate, as Alabama hadn’t voted in a Democrat to the nation’s upper congressional chamber since 1992. Yesterday, shares of a Moore victory were trading for 79 cents on PredictIt, while Jones was bargain-priced at just a quarter. Some 536,500 shares were traded on PredictIt throughout the day on Tuesday.

Irish bookmaker Paddy Power had Moore at 4-11 on Tuesday, with implied odds of winning at 73.3 percent. Jones was the long underdog at 11-5.

With 99 percent of the vote in, Jones won 49.9 percent of the vote to Moore’s 48.4 percent. The difference is 20,936 votes. Moore still isn’t ready to concede, but news outlets are, and they’re calling the race for the underdog.

With his opponent’s campaign engulfed in allegations of past sexual misconduct, including with underage girls as young as 14, Jones said during his victory speech, “This entire race has been about dignity and respect. This campaign has been about the rule of law.”

Meanwhile, Moore has called for a recount. Alabama election law automatically triggers a recount when the vote is within one half of one percent. “Any candidate can request a recount, and if they pay for it, there’s a recount,” Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill told CNN last night.

Jones’ victory puts the US Senate at 51-49 in favor of the Republican Party. Minnesota will soon find out who its new senator is after Democrat Al Franken announced his resignation last week amid his own sexual misconduct allegations.

The last time political bettors got a major race this wrong was the run for American president in November 2016, an upset that left millions gobsmacked and disbelieving.

Market Still Open

While sportsbooks that are allowed to offer wagers on politics have closed their lines on Moore, PredictIt isn’t ready to distribute winnings quite yet.

The market, “Who will win the 2017 US Senate special election in Alabama” is still open, but you’ll presumably need to bet big to make a little should you feel confident that a recount won’t change the results. Jones is at a costly 98 cents, meaning should the presumed winner indeed head to Washington, each winning share will net you just two cents.

The big potential reward, of course, comes with that major risk. Moore shares can be snagged up for just two cents, which would deliver a 4,900 percent win to shareholders, should the recount find that the former Alabama Supreme Court justice was actually the victor.

Allegations Costly

Though Roy Moore maintains he never engaged in misconduct with minors, the sexual allegations surrounding him likely led to his defeat. Eight percent of Republicans switched tickets to endorse Jones, and 51 percent of Independents went for the underdog as well.

African-American voters almost unanimously favored Jones, at 96 percent, while 30 percent of Caucasians went for the Democrat. Women also supported him, at a rate of 57 to 41 percent in favor.