As we move into the closing weeks of what has been both an intriguing and chaotic campaign, focus is slowly starting to shift towards what we can expect on Tuesday night November 3rd. Given the year 2020 has been to date, it’s sure to be a historic count for various reasons – understanding both the logistics and terminology of the night itself will hopefully increase your entertainment and potentially help you locate some savvy betting investment opportunities.
Casting a Ballot
It’s important to be aware that voting has very much already started for US Election 2020. People have multiple different options available to them when it comes to casting a ballot, but the real question is how might these various methods influence the overall result in a different way to previous years?
Reports earlier this week referenced significant queues at polling stations for early in-person voting. This is a key facility in many states and will continue right up to polling day itself when people can vote in the standard way as the majority would understand it. There has also been extensive discussion about postal ballots, mainly from the Trump campaign to date. 2020 will see the greatest number of postal ballots cast in the history of the US General Election given the pandemic.
All the above means the window to have a traditional ‘October Surprise’ on the campaign trail is quickly closing, if not already shut.
The Electoral College & Swing States
The Electoral College process was established as a compromise between the US Congress electing a President versus the citizens. It still amazes many that a popular vote system elects members of US Congress, Mayors, Governors etc., but the presidency, the highest land in the office, uses a different method.
The responsibility of electing a US President rests with the Electoral College. When Americans go to the polls, they are voting for a slate (group) of electors appointed by the state’s political parties to represent the will of the people. In total there are 538 of these electors distributed across the country. This varies state by state as they are unfortunately not all created equal.
This phenomenon gives rise to the Swing State. Key battleground states where candidates look to add to their Electoral College advantage and get to that all import 270, a majority of the 538 available electors.
As is all too fresh in the memory of Hillary Clinton supporters, it is possible to win the popular vote across the country (receive the most votes) but not win the Presidency. So, what are the states we need to look out for this time around if the Biden campaign wants to avoid winning the battle but losing the war?
Texas – 38 Electoral Votes
By its purest definition Texas is most definitely a Swing State but won’t be on too many other people’s lists. It holds 38 electoral college votes and would make a huge difference for either candidate.
Historically Republican to the core, Trump carried the state by 9% in 2016 and many would see that as par for the course once again. But there has been a shift towards the Democrats in recent times; they even briefly contemplated having a Democratic Texan in the shape of Beto O’Rourke in the presidential mix.
Like many other states, larger urban areas like Houston and San Antonio see a better educated well paid workforce who have moved away from their political roots. While more rural Texans might still maintain their Republican allegiances, they are becoming slowly outnumbered.
Currently available at odds 2/1 (33% chance) with William Hill, Paddy Power and Betfair, Texas to go blue would be a significant milestone in US Political history but not one that is beyond the bounds of possibility with a bit of momentum.
Florida – 29 Electoral Votes
Since 1996, the average margin of victory for presidential candidates is only 2.6%. This was the state which turned the 2016 election on its head as Trump came from behind to carry the state by just 1.2% of the vote. It’s no wonder that as soon as he was discharged from hospital and cleared to travel, this was the first stop on tour.
Current polls have Biden ahead by approximately 3% and now favourite at odds 8/11 (58% chance) with William Hill for the state having opened as underdog.
Florida has an ageing population which Trump appealed to more than Clinton in 2016. Trump’s record with coronavirus amongst other items won’t have played well with that cohort and will likely see a shift to Biden.
The other important thing to note about Florida is that given its ageing population postal voting has always been popular. It will have the logistics and experience in place to deal with an increase, something which other states may not have the luxury of. Expect Florida to be one of the first key states to declare (whether that is accepted or not is another matter). But given it’s track record of siding with successful presidential candidates, the writing could be on the wall early!
Pennsylvania – 20 Electoral Votes
A majority of less than 1% got Trump over the line here in 2016.
Traditionally industrial, first time around Trump appealed to that base but may not ultimately have delivered for them. His campaign has also been repurposing money for TV slots out of Pennsylvania in favour of other targets of late – make of that what you will as it can cut both ways.
But this is Biden’s home state and he now has a 7% advantage in the latest polls. Key heavily populated areas such as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia trended towards the Democrats last time around despite the Trump victory. One would expect Biden to secure that vote again and ultimately improve on it. That could make the odds 1/3 (75% chance) at William Hill an attractive proposition even if it is significantly shorter than the 4/7 (63%) that opened the betting.
It hasn’t been nicknamed the Keystone State for no good reason and like Florida, many political judges have this top of the list in determining the overall national picture.
Michigan – 16 Electoral Votes
No state won by Trump back in 2016 was closer than Michigan and he’ll once again need to take it should he wish to have a second term.
It’s not looking good however with Biden a prohibitive favourite at odds 1/7 (88% chance) with Paddy Power and Betfair. On the flip side, Trump is 4/1. There is logic which suggests Trump can’t win the election without winning Michigan, so if you believe the dream is still alive, why not take the price about him winning this single standalone state and remove the need to worry about others?
Biden will be looking to areas such as Detroit to rekindle the vote they gave to Obama in 2008 and 2012 which would see him carry the state somewhat easily.
Arizona – 11 Electoral Votes
Trump won here by 3.5% of the vote in 2016, but current polls have Biden ahead by that margin and favoured at odds 1/2 (67% chance) with William Hill, having opened betting as close as a 50/50 split.
A huge Republican advantage in times past has been somewhat eroded by various groups. As with Florida, Arizona has become somewhat of a magnet for people from across the country who move to seek out a better climate. It also boasts a significant Democratic-leaning Hispanic population who have increased turnout in recent elections.
As if all that wasn’t enough, one of Biden’s most recent campaign videos across the state see’s Cindy McCain (wife of the late 2008 Republican Presidential Nominee John McCain) endorsing Biden as a Democrat. With Trump having made disparaging comments about her husband in the past the chickens out west look to be coming home to roost!
The Big Picture
The outright market and major polls continue to be good news for the Biden campaign, the candidate trading at odds 1/2 (67% chances) with William Hill, Paddy Power & Betfair. It points to a loss of momentum for Trump, be that due to illness or perhaps an opinion he might be running out of road.
However, this Political Joe knows that if there was ever to be an October Surprise to shake things up on a campaign trail there is only one man who would deliver it.