The New World Order of Election Betting: Never Underestimate the Unknown

Lee R. - November 10, 2016
The New World Order of Election Betting: Never Underestimate the Unknown

Voting behaviour made sense in only one poll.

Well, the Day After had to arrive.  As difficult as it was (and is) to imagine, someone had to win.

Baffled as Trafalgar

OK, Brexit was a punting shock. But for those of you who still thought Hillary would win, you may find yourself quite perturbed today. And if you bet that Hillary would win, then you definitely are perturbed.    

Largesse Perturbulence

But no matter how much you bet, you are not as perturbed as the woman who placed £450,000 pounds on Hillary. Nor as perturbed as Paddy Power, nor the recipients to whom the betting parlour giant paid out £800,000 in advance on October 18th for betting on Hillary...


And in light of the fact that before the elections, calculations confirmed in news reports that a Trump victory would comprise the largest payout in Presidential betting history, not as perturbed as the rest of the bookies around the world who extended such long odds for Trump punters...


Nor as perturbed as global investors, who are watching global stock markets drop across the boards with the unpredicted (and thus unpredictable) result...

Mexican Government

Nor as perturbed as the Mexican government, whom immediately watched their Mexican peseta tank because of the Donald’s extreme statements about border immigration enforcement that gained him notoriety in the infancy of his campaign...


Nor as perturbed as I—because Hillary’s win was part of my master plan for Trump to be ousted in the general election, and then Hillary to be ousted during the Presidency, at which point an appropriate candidate could have taken the reigns by forfeit.

Betting Impact

As for the true implications for Presidential betting? Let’s just say it is proving far more difficult pastime than sports betting.

Sporting Odds

If multiple horses run at various odds all relatively accurate based on previous performance and current track conditions, and sporting points spreads are so close it is uncanny, then how can the rapidly growing field of Presidential betting miss so badly? Bloody but unbowed, let’s try to pick up the pieces.

Prevailing Wisdom

As far as common sense betting on voter behaviour, Hillary had the edge for me, most of all because she is actually a politician. Combine that with the fact that I like many-but-not-as-many-as-I-originally-thought honestly believed that the election of Obama had done away with the possibility of discrimination actually swaying voting outcomes, Hillary indeed appeared to be the safe bet that polling organizations and bookies made her out to be.

Safety Not Guaranteed

Alas, wagering on the Presidential election proved out to be anything but safe. There was one x-factor publicly thrown into the mix in the final fortnight to threaten Hillary’s lead: the public announcement by FBI Director Comey of the launch of Email-gate Part Deux: a new investigation into Hillary’s previous choice of servers. 

Court of Public Opinion

Was a redundant-appearing FBI investigation really enough to siphon off significant votes at this late stage? Hard to imagine, since no public reports of any wrongdoing by Hillary have actually come out, and no charges filed nor substantive accusations levied.

Who Picked It?

A better question in relation to Presidential betting: did anyone get the results right? Well as luck would have it, the innovative LA Times-USC polling system had it nailed the whole time.

Times-USC Advantage

According to the procedures detailed on their website, it looks as if the Times-USC poll was far more vigilant in monitoring potential changes in both opinion and voting behaviour than any other polls, rendering the predictions of all other pre-election polling systems seemingly static. 

What We Can Learn

The accuracy of the Times-USC poll clearly exposed the bugs of other current Presidential polling and Presidential oddsmaking systems that do not exist in sports odds formulation.

Strategic Adaptation  

Any reliance on general polling system data needs to be redirected to the features from the individually superior Times-USC poll which clearly recognized, measured and accounted for voter context most effectively. 




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