I haven’t done an update on the political prediction markets in weeks, and given the insanity of our present situation, a break from the useless political commentary and “takes” would be profitable. Prediction markets aren’t perfect, or close to perfect, but they are more useful than the constant flood of opinions from partisan political hacks.
We’ll start with Ralph Northam, the governor of Virginia who is being pressured to resign, not because he supports euthanizing babies, but because he (though he now denies it) wore a racist costume in 1985. According to PredictIt, Northam has only a 37% chance of still being governor by the end of February. The only point I have on this is that Northam should have resigned already for his support of the detestable bill that radically loosened abortion regulations in Virginia – as terrible as racism is, murdering babies is worse.
Turning to the imminent presidential race, prospective 2020 candidate Howard Schultz is probably the second most hated man in America right now. For those not in the know, Schultz is the billionaire former CEO of Starbucks who has raised the ire of the entire political left by publicly considering a run for president. The left is concerned that a Schultz campaign would draw moderate voters from the Democratic party and allow Trump to win. The analysis is sound: though Schultz is not well liked, his campaign would be incredibly well-funded and moderate blue-dog Democrats might find an acceptable candidate in Schultz once the mudslinging starts.
The good news for the eventual Democratic nominee is that Schultz is still more likely than not to stay out of the race. According to PredictIt, there is a 45% chance that Schultz runs for president in 2020. But they shouldn’t get too comfortable; 45% is nearly 50%, and a week ago he was at 65%.
So who will Schultz be taking votes from?
At the top is Kamala Harris at 24%. Behind her are Sanders and Biden, both at 16%. 4th and 5th are Beto O’Rourke and Elizabeth Warren at 14% and 10% respectively. The most recently announced candidate is Cory Booker, at only 8%.
Personally, I think O’Rourke should be a little higher. If he chooses to run, I think he has a very strong chance of beating out the shockingly uncharismatic and insincere Warren, Harris, and Booker. Biden feels like a stretch, as his attempts to play to the social justice left are almost laughable –the Biden base, moderate Dems, are a dying breed. O’Rourke could very well give Sanders a run for his money - in many ways, O’Rourke is the newer model in Bernie’s brand. Bernie is elderly and has picked up a lot of baggage on the way, O’Rourke is young, charismatic, and has only one real scandal to worry about. They both have a lot of good will with the economic left, the Sanderistas. Both O’Rourke and Bernie have a decent chance of appealing to moderates who, while turned off by the social radicalism and support for infanticide of the Democratic party, are open to their economic policies.
Of course, they’re both white men, and in 2019-2020 Democrats might be so obsessed with their arbitrary standards of diversity that they’ll choose weaker candidates over stronger candidates purely on the basis of race and sex.
People who (broadly) share my political persuasion seem to take it as an axiomatic pre-supposition that the Democrats have gone too far to the left to win in 2020. Maybe, but we should remember that Trump is very unpopular, and he’s been declining in popularity since November. As of today (Tuesday, February 5th) Trump is at 30% to win in 2020. If Dems make the mistake of nominating Warren or Booker, that number will probably rise. If they nominate Sanders, Biden, or O’Rourke, on the other hand, those numbers will probably drop.