Betting the 2020 US Elections: Electoral College Prop Bets

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Photo by Kerem Yucel / AFP

Will Donald Trump lose the popular vote and win the electoral vote again in 2020? Bookmakers weigh in and some of the political odds on offer may surprise.

The US Elections aren’t always a popularity contest but rather a race to win the electoral college and President Donald Trump knows only too well how to work the country’s peculiar democratic system to his favor. After all, winning the electoral college and not the popular vote is precisely how he won his first term in office four years ago.

In 2016, Republican Donald Trump upset Democrat Hilary Clinton in stunning fashion, winning the electoral vote handsomely with 306 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232 electoral votes. Whereas Clinton may have finished nearly three million votes up on Trump – with 65.9 million votes to Trump’s 63 million votes – pure popular majority proved a moot point when all was said and done.

2020 US Elections Betting: Trump leads the race

Going into the November general election, Donald Trump is dubbed the clear favourite (at the time of writing), priced at -135 with BetOnline. Meanwhile, Democrat nominee frontrunner Joe Biden trails at +120 to beat out Trump. Of course, this is a fluid market. In constant ebb and flow as the presidential race heats up.

The compromising electoral college system that determines the presidency was fashioned by America’s founding founders, with an aim to balance the public’s direct votes with a vote in Congress. Therefore, the keys to the White House are decided indirectly by state-based elections and not directly by the American people. There are 538 electors in total and at least 270 electoral votes are required to win the presidency for a four-year term.

By and large, previous election-cycles show the synergy between the popular vote and the electoral votes. But the last general election proved otherwise, as it displayed a clear split between the popular vote and electoral college, of which political analysts would argue reveals an inherent flaw in the US electoral system that puts a premium on where a vote comes from rather than the number of actual votes cast.

Electoral College Vote vs. Popular Vote

Given the contradicting results of the last election, sportsbooks have gone to press with odds that anticipate all possible outcomes for Donald Trump’s bid.

Donald Trump Election Special Prop Bets

  • To Lose Electoral College & Popular Vote +140
  • To Win Electoral College & Popular Vote +225
  • To Win Electoral College, Lose Popular Vote +225
  • To Lose Electoral College, Win Popular Vote +1400

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Curiously, at first glance, the Trump special market appears to be slightly at odds with the actual market to win the presidency, where Trump is the frontrunner, seeing as the betting option ‘to lose the electoral college and popular vote’ is priced the shortest of the lot at +140. But the Trump Special is a separate market in its own right and it should be treated as such.

Therefore, the thinking here is that if Trump were to lose come November, the most likely manner in is going to be by losing both the electoral college and popular vote. Hence, the short odds. Conversely. the idea that he might win the popular vote but lose the electoral college is a bit out there and, appropriately, it’s the long shot bet.

More likely than not winning a second term in office will come down to replicating the results of 2016 by winning the electoral college and losing the popular vote or by winning both the electoral college and popular vote, both of which are priced at +225 with BetOnline.

(Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

Betting Individual Electoral College Prop Bets

Trump’s victory proved in no uncertain terms that where the votes come from matters more than how many votes are cast in favor of one or the other presidential hopeful.

In 2016, Trump built national momentum by winning Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania by close margins, along with a slew of red states including Texas, Indiana, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina. Meanwhile, Hilary Clinton won  Virginia and Colorado comfortably, along with blue states including California, Vermont, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York, but despite her victories in several key states it wasn’t enough to lift her above Trump.

Some of the likeliest swing states in 2016 were identified as: Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Nevada, along with traditional battlegrounds Georgia and Michigan. Trump won five of the seven aforementioned states and crucially those with hefty electoral college votes: Florida (29), Ohio (18), Georgia (16), Michigan (16) and North Carolina (15).

Experts widely agree the swing states to focus on for the 2020 US Elections are Arizona (11), Florida (18), Michigan (16), North Carolina (16), Pennsylvania (20) and Wisconsin (10) – all of which fell to Trump in the previous elections. Whether Democrats can win back all or some of those states could ultimately swing the elections in their favor.

The best betting sites have rolled out odds for the outcome of the electoral college vote in each and every state. With respect to the key states won by Trump in 2016, there are some interesting odds in play that would go against the results of his triumph four years ago. According to the odds, the Republicans are slated to win only two of the six key electoral college voting states that were won by Trump in the last elections.

Electoral College Odds

  • Republican to Win Arizona +110
  • Democrat to Win Arizona -130
  • Republican to Win Florida -120
  • Democrat to Win Florida +110
  • Republican to Win Michigan +165
  • Democrat to Win Michigan -190
  • Republican to Win North Carolina -130
  • Democrat to Win North Carolina +110
  • Republican to Win Pennsylvania +140
  • Democrat to Win Pennsylvania -160
  • Republican to Win Wisconsin +120
  • Democrat to Win Wisconsin -140

Colorado (9), Georgia (16), Iowa (6), Maine (4), Ohio (18) and Texas (38) are other key areas that could swing either way in the 2020 US Elections. Hilary Clinton won just two of the aforementioned states: Colorado and Maine. According to the odds, the Democrats remain favored in the very same states while tipped as complete longshots in the remaining key states.

  • Republican to Win Colorado +360
  • Democrat to Win Colorado -450
  • Republican to Win Georgia -260
  • Democrat to Win Georgia +220
  • Republican to Win Iowa -250
  • Democrat to Win Iowa +210
  • Republican to Win Maine +320
  • Democrat to Win Maine -400
  • Republican to Win Ohio -180
  • Democrat to Win Ohio +160
  • Republican to Win Texas -300
  • Democrat to Win Texas +250

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Predicting how the electoral college vote and popular vote will go down in November is never an exact science. In 2016, polls had Hilary Clinton in the lead and the presumptive winner in the US Presidential elections but the ‘America first’ Trump defied expectations and, even, the political odds.  

Determining the 2020 US Elections is made more difficult now, given the current climate of uncertainty that prevails as a result of the global pandemic. It remains to be seen whether Trump’s handling of the crisis (good or bad, depending on perspective) will be turned into a referendum on his presidency. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that Trump to date remains the favorite to win the U.S. Elections across sports betting platforms and, by extension, the Republicans are thus favored ever so slightly over the Democrats at -115 to -105 to command the Oval Office for another four years.