The latest betting odds for the 2012 presidential election peg President Barack Obama as the favorite. But if the opening odds for the 2008 presidential election are any guide, 2012 could be the year Sarah Palin is elected president.
President Obama was given 10/1 odds of becoming the next president by Sportsbook.com numbers in early December 2006, identical odds to what Sportsbook now gives Palin for being elected the 45th President of the United States in 2012.
Two other major betting sites, BetUSA.com and 1800-Sports, a betting information site, have Palin at 10/1 odds of becoming the next president of the United States, while Bodog has Palin at 12/1.
“Political betting like politics itself is all about momentum and once a candidate starts to gain support, bettors start to follow,” said Richard Gardner, Bodog Sportsbook Manager, in a statement to The Daily Caller. “This can be a very good indicator of opinion, people betting on politics tend to be quite shrewd rather than blindly loyal as they can be in sports.”
Political betting gained popularity with the increased interest in online betting. Recent elections in the U.S. and the United Kingdom also added to its allure.
“There has always been speculation on major public debates such as presidential elections and the next leaders of political party’s but this has moved into a new era recently since online betting took off,” said Gardner. “Two recent elections contributed to this [popularity] – The Bush/Gore debacle when Gore was initially called the winner only to be overturned and beaten in Florida at a later date.”
He continued, “In the UK, the most recent General Election produced a ‘hung Parliament’ (undecided) and that forced two of the parties to agree on policy moving forward to push the ruling Labour party to the sidelines.”
The resulting hanging decisions gave gamblers a chance for continued betting on important political outcomes. The unpredictable nature of both elections and the immediacy of the Internet meshed politics with gambling.
In the 2008 presidential election, BETUS and 1800-Sports gave President Obama 7/2 odds of being nominated by the Democratic Party, the same odds Palin is currently given to be nominated by the Republican Party in 2012, according to Sportsbook.
In December 2006, President Obama’s odds of being elected president in 2008 were behind then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark R. Warner, former Vice President Al Gore, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, according to BETUS and 1800-Sports.
As it became clear that Obama was going to mount a presidential campaign, and as his support rose during the campaign, President Obama’s betting odds continually updated to reflect his increased chance of winning the Democratic nomination.
The amount of Republican candidates available to bet on this cycle far outnumbers the Democratic options. Between five major political betting and predicting websites, the number of potential candidates to bet on run as many as 40 on Intrade to as few as 13 on Sportsbook, BetUSA and BetUS.
The favorite for the GOP nomination, according to Bodog.com, is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, followed immediately by Palin. South Dakota Sen. John Thune and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty are also given reasonable odds at 7/1 and 9/1, respectively, according to Bodog.com figures given to TheDC.
The number of possible Democratic candidates available to bet on range from 3 to 6 depending on the site, with all of the sites containing President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and Vice President Biden. Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh, Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, and former Vice President Al Gore are also included on two of the sites.
President Obama is the overwhelming favorite for Democratic nomination with 4/5 odds.
Political betting has become a lucrative business with the rise of online gambling and the number of candidates you can bet on will be pared down as it gets closer to election time. And that’s when the stakes are likely to get serious if experience is any guide.
“Australian political elections have seen wagers of 1M AUS dollars on numerous occasions,” said Gardner. “As soon as a field is narrowed down to an official list then the wagering really tends to heat up.”
At this point, all of the sites reviewed by TheDC are currently predicting a second term for President Obama.