Following the latest polls, news and betting odds has historically provided key indicators for how the U.S. Presidential Election would typically unfold. Sites like FiveThirtyEight have advanced predictive models and algorithms to determine election outcomes, but in 2016 that and other data may have steered bettors the wrong way.
For the 2016 election, nearly every major media outlet and oddsmaker had proclaimed that Donald Trump didn’t have a legitimate chance to win the election. After that upset, it appears we may have a case of déjà vu in 2020.
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President Donald Trump is again an underdog to win the U.S. election for 2020 after going into election night in 2016 with odds as high as +475 to win. Now, with it being election night, Trump sits at +135 to win a second term in the White House, with Democratic nominee Joe Biden tabbed as the betting favorite at -165.
Odds Shark has tracked the odds for both the 2016 and 2020 U.S. presidential elections and with that data, we’ll show President Trump’s betting odds, when they swung in his favor to win in 2016, and some parallels for both of these elections he was/is pegged to lose.
2016 U.S. Presidential Betting Odds Tracking
Even though we know the final result of the 2016 presidential election, the campaign trail was not kind to Donald Trump. Questionable comments during rallies, fact checks, tax returns, the wall on the U.S./Mexico border – take your pick of the litany of things the opposition, media and oddsmakers used as factors when predicting the election.
That’s why the 2016 election will be a case study for predictive analytics and politics until the end of time, because on the surface it seemed like it was Hillary Clinton’s campaign to lose. When Trump announced in 2015 he was running for president, oddsmakers had tabbed him at +2500 odds (3.8 percent chance) to be the 45th president of the United States.
The momentum built up for Trump as he dispatched other Republican opponents like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. By October 30, 2015, oddsmakers had no choice but to drop Trump’s odds down to +500 as the presumptive Republican nominee for POTUS.
Here is a month-by-month odds tracker from August 2015 to November 2016 for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton leading into the 2016 U.S. presidential election:
|Candidate||Aug 5||Oct 30||Feb 1||Mar 4||May 9||June 22||Aug 18||Sept 26||Oct 25||Nov 1|
As you can see, Trump was never the favorite until election night and even days before the election couldn’t get closer than +175 odds. Even as the election was unfolding and votes started pouring in, Trump’s odds to be the U.S. president were as high as +550 at 8 p.m. ET on November 8. But by 9:35 p.m. ET, those odds had swung and they swung hard in Donald Trump’s favor.
Look at how the odds moved from 7:58 p.m. ET to 11:52 p.m. ET. Trump was declared the Sportsbook of the 2016 presidential election shortly after.
|Time (ET)||Hillary Clinton||Donald Trump|
Will we see this again in 2020 for the U.S. presidential election? It’s hard to tell at this stage but one thing is for certain: bettors can’t just take raw data like polls and betting odds as fact and a concrete projection for how an election will play out.
How do Trump’s 2020 Election Odds Compare To 2016?
Although some would argue the 2020 U.S. presidential election odds are mirroring 2016 with Donald Trump being the political underdog going into the final week, it’s not quite a black and white comparison.
As mentioned in the 2016 section, Trump was upwards of +2500 at the start of the election campaign trail and even up to +550 on the night of the election. Now, the odds have Trump at +135, currently available at Sportsbook.
Here are the 2020 U.S. presidential election betting odds for both Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden on the first day of each month in 2020:
|Month||Joe Biden||Donald Trump|
There are some factors to which you can attribute the shifting odds. Biden, for example, seemed dead in the water at the beginning of March with his odds all the way up to +1200 as he was competing with senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (among others) for the Democratic nomination.
Then, Biden had an incredible showing in March for Super Tuesday when he won 10 of the 14 states that had their primary votes. That and previous primary outcomes all but sealed up Biden’s nomination for the Democratic Party. Following those results, his odds dropped from +1200 to +140 overnight and steadily shifted to him being the odds-on favorite that we see today.
Trump’s 2020 Presidential Odds Shift To Underdog
As for Trump, his odds for re-election to the Oval Office in 2020 had never been higher at the beginning of March. The Dems didn’t seem to have their ducks in a row to choose an opponent to go up against President Trump and momentum was fleeting. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic happened.
The coronavirus and its influence on the 2020 U.S. presidential election cannot be overstated. The lack of precedent for this virus and how it impacted society at nearly every level is not something any political party could envision in an election year. The controversial handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by the Trump administration in turn directly affected polls and betting odds.
The tide really turned – as Biden became the favorite and Trump became an underdog again – in June 2020 with the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Without reliving that brutal incident, the handling of subsequent protests after his death and race relations in America put a spotlight on the 2020 presidential election that seemed to no longer focus on each candidate’s platform.
Now, as we approach the home stretch of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, it’s easy for the casual bettor to look at the betting odds and to write off Donald Trump’s chances of being re-elected. But if 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that these odds and polls are predictions, not foregone conclusions, which means bettors should be ready for any result and that Trump is in play to be a live dog.