We’re nostalgic for a simpler time when people alienated each other by snarking about all the weight cousin Amy put-on after what’s-his-name dumped her, or speculating whether the incident in the elevator proves that Hakeem in accounting is banging that lawyer from the fourth floor. And while we would like to think there may be someone, somewhere talking about something other than the impeachment, we’re realists. Both the Republic and a lot of betting portfolios hang in the balance, so, for now, Topic A is The Impeachment.
Which is fine, but doesn’t mean the impeachment itself is something to bet on. There’s a near 100% certainty that the whole thing will come to nothing more than a few tragicomic campaign commercials. On PredictIt there are pennies to be made by the patient who have already invested, but for the rest of us the only way to make that bet interesting is to…well, there isn’t a way to make it interesting. The single curious factoid is the glaring delta between the 11-cent bet that Trump will be removed by the Senate and the 17-cent bet that he will not finish his first term. The difference is the market’s assessment of the risk that the President’s Big Mac habit will suddenly make both the election and impeachment irrelevant.
The only real impeachment action is down-ballot, where PredictIt has opened six markets based on the guilty/not guilty votes of Joe Manchin, Ben Sasse, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Doug Jones, and Susan Collins. PredictIt scrambled things a little, making some of the bets about voting to convict and some about voting to acquit, causing confusion that didn’t sit well with the customers.
“Why did they muddle these markets?” complains an exasperated maybenotdepends. “Yes should mean yes!”
Strictly speaking, the bet on quasi-Democrat Manchin is that he will vote to acquit. We’re counting a NO trading at 35-cents as a YES to convict. That makes him a fair-to-middling bet for a CONVICT vote, but even that one-in-three chance is greeted with skepticism in the threads.
“I’d be inclined to say he does vote to acquit,” writes kaldrich001. “In the past, he’s shown pretty clearly that he’ll vote with Republicans whenever he doesn’t actually have a chance to decide the outcome.”
At the way-longshot end of the spectrum is Ben Sasse, the pride of Plainview, Nebraska. We had frankly forgotten Sasse was still a Senator. After telling the press that he would skip the 2016 Republican National Convention because he would rather “watch dumpster fires” than be there to acclaim Donald Trump as the Republican nominee, Sasse has donned an invisibility cloak in hopes that the conservative media would stop badgering him. But now he’s back and for 9-cents you can take a flyer that he regains his skepticism. Upward pressure on the market is brought by Trump’s standing in Nebraska, which has dropped significantly. El Presidente took the state by 24 in 2016, but according to RCP his Nebraska approval is only +2 today, leaving Sasse some room to stiffen whatever spine he has. Downward pressure is from intangibles like, as Mikeys68 points out, Sasse’s hairstyle.
“Ben Sasse kinda looks like Liz Warren in that picture.”
The other Senators are all in the pick-your-poison middle, and what you’re hoping for if you’re betting to convict is that some catastrophic revelation – cannibalism, perhaps – makes it impossible for even Susan Collins to continue her unique dance of both moral hand-wringing and unwavering support for the President.
“She will be all shocked and shaken,” says a weary-sounding DoubleG, “but will figure out a way to (toe) the party line in the end.”
Apparently-regretful early bettor IronyDotGov has a different strategy, hoping the Senate itself will crawl into Sasse’s invisibility cloak by voting to cast ballots in secret, negating the market entirely.
“We would get our money back by March,” DotGov says hopefully, but without real conviction.
MEANWHILE, IN ALMOST CANADA…
An interesting conversation in the Minnesota primary market. Bernie at 45-cents dominates YES despite being well below Warren, Biden, and homegirl Amy Klobuchar in the most-recent-but-really-not-very-recent-at-all public poll, from late October.
“Above poll was taken at the HEIGHT of the Warren bubble, last fall,” says Dan Warren, who we’re guessing isn’t related to Elizabeth. “Since then, her SNAKE-iness has been getting increasingly exposed, along with her nonsense ‘ I have a plan for that!’ BS.”
Dubious as we may be about people who randomly capitalize whole words, he’s got a point. Without the benefit of polling evidence, since late October Warren (the Elizabeth kind, not the Dan kind) has lost 80% of her value, while Bernie went up about 120%. Fortunes were made and lost!
Someone called Floating Stoat — who named himself after a short-tailed weasel and could teach Dan Warren a thing or two about Internet handles — performed math, trying to control for Warren’s nationwide slide. He calculates Liz and Bernie are in a virtual tie.
That would make Warren at 9 an astoundingly good bet except there’s not a single threadster defending that position — a reflection of what Poppy Bush used to call “the big mo”, of which Warren has not even a little.
Favorite daughter Amy Klobuchar gets a lot of attention from threadsters. People seem to like her, but…
“I think she will win Minnesota,” says MNJimmy, “assuming she is still in the race by then, which is not a given.”
That’s a point worth belaboring. Minnesota’s freakish 7 week voting season creates difficult-to-quantify risk. Minnesotans started voting January 17 and won’t stop until March 3. During that period, 18 other states will vote and most of the non-Bernie/Joe/Liz/Pete campaigns will close-up shop. (“Shady old lady Clinton will be the nominee,” says Otto the Mediocre, who can buy all the Clinton shares he wants at a penny.) That means thousands of early votes for mean-girl Tulsi and the rest will go to waste instead of shifting to other candidates, either local or front-running.
Finally, there’s this observation from EricEckheart: “There’s a Bloomberg ad on every other commercial break in Minnesota.” Bloomberg is trading at 3-cents, but if Bernie Panic becomes a real thing there could be a consolidation of Establishment forces behind Bloomberg’s wallet that would, even if he doesn’t win, cause the value of his stock in states like Minnesota to go up significantly.
PROPOSED PREDICTIT MARKET OF THE WEEK
From Who will be the Democratic nominee, we find a suggestion that would make not just a good betting market, but also an excellent pay-per-view event.
ToDaMoon proposes the following: “Sanders and Warren in a kickboxing match who do you think would win?”
We don’t care. Just give us third-row seats, close to the action but out of the range of drool splatter, and an undercard that includes a cage match between Kellyanne and George Conway, and we are there.
As for the betting interest, Bernie’s a tough old coot, but if it goes more than two rounds we’re guessing his bum ticker comes into play and he drops his guard. Liz will seize the opportunity to land a roundhouse left that wouldn’t faze a kitten, but Democrats will recoil in horror and award the championship belt to Joe Biden, who’s snoozing with big donors in a luxury box.
On Twitter, @TomSayingThings explores the remarkable symbiosis of politics and whiskey.