Due to general elections in both the USA and UK, 2024 promises to be the busiest ever year for political betting. To help you bet on politics, below you’ll find my current recommended bet, plus 10 political bets you can make over the year and their odds.
My Recommended Political Bet
Nikki Haley to win New Hampshire Primary @ 8/5
1. Bet On The Presidential Nominee For Each Party
Image of Donald Trump: Gage Skidmore/Wikipedia Commons
The political betting action begins with the primaries, which determine the presidential nominees for each party. Odds will be available on the primaries for all 50 states and later for how each votes in the presidential election. Some firms will also offer odds on who finishes second, or the winning margin.
Here are my insights for Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
The action begins with the Iowa Republican Caucus.
Trump is an overwhelming favorite to win Iowa, rated almost certain to win the popular vote at 1-100. BetMGM offer a more competitive market involving the race without him.
Ron DeSantis is favorite at 1.57…
…compared to Nikki Haley at 2.5.
If the Iowa results go as expected, it will strengthen Trump’s dominant position at the head of the odds list for Republican Nominee. The highest odds available with Sportsbooks is 1-7 with Bet365, but if you can access an exchange the political betting odds are more generous. For example, 2-11 with Betfair or buying at 82c via PredictIt.
States do not behave uniformly, and the second leg of the schedule could be the one which sets the race on fire. The New Hampshire Republican Primary is on January 23rd.
New Hampshire has a much higher share of Independent voters than Iowa, and Trump’s polling performance here is notably inferior. While he still leads the polls, the margin has shrunk markedly, with Haley emerging as the main challenger. A recent survey had her within 4%, and Trump on just 37%.
Since then, Chris Christie (polling around 12%) has withdrawn, and almost all of his supporters are expected to transfer to Haley.
BetMGM‘s odds about Haley have collapsed from 5.0 to just 2.6 in recent days, compared to 1.45 for Trump. She remains my preferred bets at these odds. Primary voters famously decide and swing late.
Image of Nikki Haley: George Skidmore/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0
If Trump isn’t getting close to 50%, despite his massive, unique advantage in name recognition and being a former President, I’m skeptical he’ll win. I’d expect anti-Trump voters to unite around the only candidate running him close.
New Hampshire’s primary attracts vast numbers of Independent voters (perhaps more than half the total turnout). These are the types I believe can swing it for Haley.
Whether a Haley win in New Hampshire transforms the wider race is doubtful, because Trump remains will probably dominate the Southern states. Notably, he enjoys a big poll lead in the third race, South Carolina, despite Haley being the former Governor there. Betfair are first up with political betting odds, rating Trump a 1.08 chance to win the popular vote.
In a change from previous cycles, the Democratic Primary officially starts later, in South Carolina, on February 3rd. The party’s decision to usurp New Hampshire did not play well in that state, who chose to keep their primary on the same day as the Republican race. It is unsanctioned by the party and Joe Biden’s name will not be on the ballot. Party activists are organizing a write-in campaign for him.
Image of President Biden: U.S. Secretary of Defense/Flickr, CC BY 2.0
While Biden is expected to win in the absence of a serious challenger (his opponents are led by little-known Congressman Dean Phillips, Oprah Winfrey’s former spiritual advisor Marianne Williamson and TYT host Cenk Uygur), how this pans out is unclear. Were Biden to fail to win, or reach 50%, via these write-ins, it could spark very serious doubts about his candidacy.
Despite the absence of a strong challenger, Biden is available at bigger odds to win his party’s nomination than Trump. Bet365 offer odds of 1.25.
His closest rivals in this year’s political betting are not currently in the race – Gavin Newsom, Kamala Harris and Michelle Obama. All have strongly endorsed Biden. Bettors supporting them are hoping that, at a later stage, Biden will withdraw due to retirement, ill health or another factor such as impeachment.
2. Bet On The Likelihood Of A Biden v Trump Rematch
Image of Trump and Biden: Emma Kaden/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0
A Biden v Trump rematch is very likely. The Betfair odds about this are 1.47.
Yet in both cases, critical known unknowns remain. In Biden’s case, polls show 40% of those who voted for him in 2020 don’t want him to run again, amongst 60% of the population.
Trump’s stranglehold on the nomination could plausibly be threatened by his legal peril. The timeline of his court cases remains unclear but, were he convicted before the nomination is determined, that might alter the calculations of Republican primary voters. Polls indicate a conviction would badly damage his chances at the general election. There is also the ongoing question of whether he could be removed from state ballots via the 14th amendment. Whilst unlikely, in theory the Republican Party could choose to ditch him at their convention in July.
There has never been a campaign anything like it and we take such short political betting odds at our peril. However, assuming we do ultimately see a rematch of 2020, the current odds imply Trump starts as favorite. He’s available at 2.3 with BetMGM, compared to 3.25 about Biden.
3. Bet On The Republican Vice Presidential Nominee
Image of Ben Carson: Gage Skidmore/Wikipedia Commons
Another competitive market to consider is Republican Vice Presidential Nominee. Whereas Kamala Harris is assumed certain to be Biden’s running mate and trading at the same as his main nomination odds, this is wide-open. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is the early favorite at 5.0, ahead of Vivek Ramaswamy at 7.5 and Elise Stefanik at 8.0.
4. Bet On Congress
There is also Congress to consider. Control of both the US Senate and House of Representatives will be on the November ballot and betting will become widely available on both, along with all the key states and congressional districts.
5. Bet On Individual Races
In the nearer term, there is a special election in New York’s third district, following the expulsion of Republican George Santos. Betfair have just opened their market and others will follow. This should be a close contest.
6. Bet On When The UK General Election Will Happen
Regarding the UK election, we still don’t know the date or even party leaders for sure. Rishi Sunak is the third Conservative Prime Minister since the last election and, given abysmal approval ratings, his future is far from secure.
A general election in the UK will almost certainly take place in 2024. The latest possible date is January 25th 2025, but that is extremely unlikely for logistical reasons.
The latest Betfair political betting odds rate October-December as 4-9 favorite to be the election date, ahead of April-June at 5.7 and July-September at 7.8.
7. Bet On Who Will Be Conservative Party Leader
Image of Rishi Sunak: Number 10/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Sunak is rated a 1.2 chance to be Conservative leader at the election.
The recent and long-term history of the Conservative Party suggests the latter is a risky short-odds bet. They are famous for removing unpopular leaders and have the mechanism to do so, via a vote of confidence.
Prior to Christmas 2023, with the party bitterly divided over it’s immigration policy, the odds about Sunak exiting early and/or facing a confidence vote spiked. This could well happen again within the next few weeks when Parliament considers the legislation.
8. Bet On The UK’s By-Elections
Before the general election, we will also have at least one and perhaps three by-elections to bet on. These are, like US special elections, local contests in particular districts where the representative has stood down. Again, these have the potential to destabilize Sunak.
The Conservatives have fared terribly in these and the very early betting for Wellingborough has them as big outsiders. However upsets do happen in these affairs – they won a similar race in Uxbridge last year at odds of 8.0.
9. Bet On The UK General Election
Regarding the main event, Labour are strong favorites to regain power.
Labour are rated 1-10 chances at best to win Most Seats at the general election with Bet365 and 1.25 to win an Overall Majority. On current polling, they should achieve both with ease but we are still very early in the process. Recent elections saw dramatic changes during the final months and the Conservatives can hope for a repeat.
10. Bet On How Many Seats Each Party Will Win
At a general election, there are also hundreds of interesting side markets, such as each party’s seat total. For example, Betfair offer “How many seats will the Conservatives lose”. Here the favorite is 201 seats or more at 2.7.
By seats, we mean ‘constituencies’. There are 650 of them, each returning a Member of Parliament (MP), who takes up a seat. In due course, sportsbooks and exchanges will offer odds on which party will win each of those 650 constituencies. Hundreds of markets among thousands in what promises to be an unforgettable year. Truly, a betting bonanza!
FAQs About Political Betting
How do you bet on politics?
Betting on politics is the same as betting on sports. You can do so via a Sportsbook, taking fixed odds about a particular outcome. For example, “Who will win the 2024 US Presidential Election?”. Alternatively, you can place political bets via a peer-to-peer betting exchange such as Betfair or PredictIt.
How accurate are political markets?
Many argue that political betting markets are a more accurate predictor of results than opinion polls. The evidence for this is mixed and complex, because to some extent political betting odds are driven by polls.
The best guides to answering this question are the exchanges, where odds are driven purely by supply and demand, rather than a particular oddsmaker. Their record is very strong. Since the Betfair exchange was formed in 1998, the favorite 100 days out won the most seats in every UK general election and in all but one US presidential election (the exception being Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016).
How big is the political betting market?
The US Presidential Election is the biggest single betting market in the world, measured by liquidity on Betfair, the world’s largest betting exchange. The 2016 match-up between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton established a new record, and then liquidity rose seven-fold in 2020 when Trump faced Joe Biden.
Around $2BN was traded on Betfair’s main market to be Next President in 2020. Expect that to increase again in November and perhaps even be challenged, with ever more betting firms offering political betting odds.
Political betting was pioneered in the UK and there are no legal restrictions to bet on politics. These elections come only second to the USA in terms of liquidity and the range of political bets is even bigger.
My Recommended Political Bet
Nikki Haley to win New Hampshire Primary @ 8/5