The Bettors’ Guide to the Race for the White House, 2016

President Bernie Sanders? President Kim Kardashian? President Charlie Sheen? You can bet on any of them. Not that you would.
Photograph: Bloomberg

If you’re reading a political site like this more than a year and a half before the general election, suffice it to say, you’re more tapped into the political process than the majority of Americans. Rather than pat yourself on the back for your engagement and enlightenment, why not try to make some money off it? Gambling on the presidential election remains, as it has always been, illegal in the United States. (Though every couple of years some state legislator from Nevada tries unsuccessfully to change this.) Fortunately, other countries have no such qualms! You can bet on European elections in Europe, which means you can bet on American elections there, too. Right now, if you have 100 bucks burning a hole in your pocket, you can put that cash where your Twitter account is and start placing some bets.

Now, because this is gambling, we’re not talking about hard-core polling here. While the wisdom of crowds is known to be a reliable predictive method, betting markets don’t exist to actually make predictions: They exist to separate fools from their money. Remember, the idea of having insane, impossible odds on something is to encourage suckers to place pointless bets just in case something insane or impossible happens … not because there’s any real possibility. (If I could put down a dollar bet on myself to become president, even though the odds must be roughly 1 in whatever number is three times the number of people who live in this country, I’d do it. Why not? It’s a buck!)

Still: You can learn a lot from where people want to put their cash. After all: Eventually, someone will win. The site Oddschecker compiles the odds of all the major European markets into one big chart and then ranks potential candidates by how those markets are weighing those odds. (It’s a bit wonky, to be fair, overweighting candidates who have good odds from only one site, often Paddypower, but are not mentioned at all on others. You’ll have to play along a little bit to have as much fun with this piece as you should.)

Remember: You can bet actual money on these people’s odds of being elected president. With a nod to the Harper’s Index, here are some discoveries gleaned from Oddschecker.

Oddschecker0

 

2FemaleCandAmong10

(Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren)

 

4FemaleCandAmong25

(Hillary Clinton, Carly Fiorina, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren)

 

2NonWhitesAmong25

(Cory Booker, Ben Carson—numbers 24 and 25)

 

20ActivelyRuledOutRunning

(Including: Paul Ryan, Deval Patrick, Rahm Emanuel, Russ Feingold) 

 

5DemsBetterThanBernie

(Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, John Edwards, John Kerry)

 

5CuomoBetterThanBloomberg

 

3BloombergBetterOddsThanCuomo

 

1SentencedTwoYearProbation

(David Petraeus)

 

8NBC

(Al Franken, Alec Baldwin, Chelsea Clinton, Chris Matthews, Donald Trump, George Clooney, Howard Dean, and Kim Kardashian* (E! is owned by NBC Universal Cable.))

 

worse-than-john-kerry

(John Bolton, Ben Carson, Lincoln Chafee, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum)

 

7JohnEdwards

(John Bolton, Lincoln Chafee, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum)

 

3WorseOddsSchwarzenegger

(Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum)

 

0OddsWorseThanSarahPalin

 

1TeleportedToMars

(Andrew Basiago)

 

5DemsBetterThanOMalley

(Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Kristen Gillibrand, John Kerry, Elizabeth Warren)

 

4RepOddsBetterElizWarren

(Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker)

 

0WillieCarter

(All about Willie.)

 

3WorseThanMichelleObama

(Chelsea Clinton, Kim Kardashian, Joe Manchin)

 

3OscarNominated

(Alec Baldwin, George Clooney, Clint Eastwood.)

 

1KidsChoiceAwards

(Charlie Sheen)

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