Political Betting Odds Shrug In Wake Of Trump Criminal Indictment

Ex-president still favorite for GOP nomination ahead of arraignment in NY
donald trump fist

CNN’s report that a Manhattan grand jury has formally indicted former President Donald Trump asserted that the vote to indict “is sure to send shockwaves across the country.”

Perhaps so, and there figures to be fallout of some sort eventually — particularly if Trump is eventually convicted of the criminal charges in New York and/or faces additional indictments for election interference in Georgia, his role in the Jan. 6 attack, or his handling of classified documents and related obstruction of justice.

But as far as the betting markets are concerned in the hours following Trump’s indictment, no shockwaves could be detected.

Trump leading DeSantis on GOP side

Election betting, though flirted with and floated occasionally, is not permitted at regulated U.S. sportsbooks. The options-market-style site PredictIt, however, is legally accessible to U.S. customers and provides a window into what traditional sportsbook odds would look like. 

With indictment looming last week, Trump was running just about dead even with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the 2024 Republican nomination, with both priced such that they’d each be about +150 in traditional U.S. sportsbook odds. Trump finished last week with a PredictIt price of 27 cents (the equivalent of +270 sportsbook odds) to win the presidency in 2024.

But Trump surged on the Republican side this week, ahead of the indictment. For the GOP nomination, he jumped from 41 cents to 46 cents on Wednesday and peaked at 47 cents Thursday, while DeSantis dipped as low as 36 cents. Moments after the indictment news broke Thursday, the market had Trump at 45 cents, DeSantis at 37. Some 20 minutes later, it was 44-38. Ninety minutes after that, at 7:30 p.m. ET, it was 46-36. Friday morning, the numbers had settled (for the moment) at 44-38.

The indictment had almost no effect on the odds, while the relationship between Trump and DeSantis got more complicated:

Presidency prescience

The odds for who will win the 2024 general election didn’t move much either. President Joe Biden has sat consistently at 40-41 cents all week, Trump has vacillated between 26-29 cents, and DeSantis has ranged from 27-29 cents. Neither the “indictment will doom Trump” crowd nor the “by indicting him, you’re electing him” chorus are getting much backing from the betting markets.

Which political party will win the presidency has also remained extremely steady. Democrats held a 53-49 edge at the end of last week and as of Friday morning were on top 54-49. Neither price moved more than one cent on any day in the past week, including the day of the indictment.

The exact charges against Trump in New York haven’t been revealed. It is anticipated that he will be arraigned Tuesday and that the charges will be unsealed before then. Of the various potential criminal charges the former president faces in assorted jurisdictions, conventional wisdom holds that this one — for his alleged role in a hush-money payment scheme to cover up an affair with an adult film star — is the most minor.

As election betting analyst Paul Krishnamurty tweeted, “the case in itself isn’t a gamechanger.” But there are others potentially coming that could hold a more pronounced political — and political wagering — impact.

Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images


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