BetOnline’s Electoral College Bets on Battleground States

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In my never-ending search for exciting and unique ways in which to wager upon the upcoming election, I’ve been dedicating lots of time lately to BetOnline’s electoral college bets, which allow you to pick the winner of each state’s electoral college votes.

Joe Biden may be pulling away from Trump in the national polls, but the state-level contests present an opportunity for a bit more variance.

Don’t you wish you knew to bet big on Donald Trump taking the Rust Belt states in 2016?

I’ve collected the betting lines for each of the battleground and near-battleground states. I’ve also pulled the RealClearPolitics polling averages and the ElectionBettingOdds.com projections, which assign a probability of either party winning aa state based on a combination of PredictIt prices and odds from political betting sites.

(Of course, the figures used on this page are a snapshot of a specific time and place in the presidential election cycle, roughly four months before Election Day. At the moment, Donald Trump looks to be in deep trouble, trailing his Democratic challenger by 8.7 points nationally, and – as you’ll see below – not doing much better in most crucial battleground states.)

Still, it’s essential to keep in mind that in the US’s hyper-partisan political system, the margin will likely narrow as we get closer to November. The win probabilities below are based on where the betting markets sit today. The art is in anticipating how things will change and develop over the next four months; that’s where you find the value.

Arizona

RealClearPolitics (RCP) Poll Average:

Joe Biden: 47.5

Donald Trump: 44.0

Spread: Biden +3.5

ElectionBettingOdds.com Projection:

Democrats Win: 62.3%

Republicans Win: 37.7%

Electoral College Odds

  • Matchup Odds
  • Republican to Win State+125
  • Democrat to Win State-155

Arizona being this close – and even leaning blue! — should be a terrifying revelation for the Trump campaign. Since 1952, the Democratic candidate has only won the state’s electoral college votes once – that was Bill Clinton in 1996.

In 2016, President Trump carried the state by a margin of 3.5 points, a relatively narrow victory compared to Mitt Romney’s 9.1-point advantage over Barack Obama in 2012. So, like Nevada, the Southwestern state is trending in the liberal direction.

Biden has two major factors working in his favor: 1) he’s extremely popular with older voters — an advantage that has only grown more significant after Trump’s pandemic response failings; and 2) the Democratic voters in the state tend to prefer moderate candidates over progressives.

However, the Democrats must improve their outreach to Arizona’s Hispanic communities if they’re going to flip the state.

While I believe that Joe Biden has a decent chance of winning Arizona, I hesitate to pick a Democratic victory due to the betting odds.

With four months to go and a relatively close polling margin, I think taking the Republicans to win at +125 has more value.
Electoral College Bet
Republican to Win
+125

Florida

RealClearPolitics (RCP) Poll Average:

Joe Biden: 48.0

Donald Trump: 43.0

Spread: Biden +5.0

ElectionBettingOdds.com Projection:

Democrats Win: 59.9%

Republicans Win: 40.1%

Electoral College Odds

  • Matchup Odds
  • Republican to Win State-125
  • Democrat to Win State-105

If Joe Biden takes Florida, Trump’s pathway to victory becomes considerably more challenging and less probable. The DNC is investing heavily in the Southeast, which – along with the Midwest – will likely decide the general election.

Trump squeezed out a win here in 2016, edging past Hillary by 1.2 points. In the two prior elections, Barack Obama’s Democratic tickets carried the day, taking the state by narrow margins on both occasions – 2.8 points in 2008 and 0.9 in 2012.

From a political betting perspective, Florida is fascinating – look at how all-over-the-place the numbers are! Biden holds a five-point advantage in the polling, while Election Betting Odds’ combination of source data is calculating the probability of a Democratic victory at almost 60%.

Meanwhile, BetOnline’s oddsmakers see a much closer contest, giving a slight edge to Donald Trump. It’s an ideal situation for political bettors in search of positive value!

As was the case in Arizona, Trump’s approval rating among older voters could be a significant liability in Florida.
Electoral College Bet
Democrat to Win
-105

Georgia

RealClearPolitics (RCP) Poll Average:

Joe Biden: 44.7

Donald Trump: 49.0

Spread: Trump +4.3

ElectionBettingOdds.com Projection:

Democrats Win: 46.0%

Republicans Win: 54.0%

Electoral College Odds

  • Matchup Odds
  • Republican to Win State-150
  • Democrat to Win State+120

Georgia – along with Arizona and Texas – is one of the historically red states that the Democrats think is vulnerable to being flipped in 2020. While the polling has leaned in either direction, depending on the survey, the RCP average has Trump leading by 4.3 points. In 2016, the incumbent defeated Hillary Clinton by a similar margin (5.1).

The Republican candidate has won Georgia’s electoral college votes in 8 out of the last 10 presidential elections. The two exceptions were Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Bill Clinton in 1992.

One strong indication that Trump will maintain the Republican Party’s reign of dominance in Georgia is the primary turnout numbers. The primary contests were held on June 9 – so, after the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns were well underway. Both candidates were running virtually unopposed.

Trump received 714,848 primary votes, despite not facing a challenger. That’s 140,000 more than Joe Biden.

Even if you add the 10% of the Democratic primary participants who cast ballots for Bernie Sanders’s campaign to Joe’s total – and there’s no guarantee that Bernie’s supporters will show up for Biden – the Democratic challenger falls way short of Trump’s figure.

I’m taking the favorite here, even if it’s a little short on value.

(-150 moneyline has an implied probability of 60%; if the projections giving the Republicans a 54% chance of winning are accurate, this line has negative value. I tend to think PredictIt markets are a bit too bullish on Biden, which is throwing off the percentage.)

Electoral College Bet
Republican to Win
-150

Michigan

RealClearPolitics (RCP) Poll Average:

Joe Biden: 48.0

Donald Trump: 40.5

Spread: Biden +7.5

ElectionBettingOdds.com Projection:

Democrats Win: 75.0%

Republicans Win: 25.0%

Electoral College Odds

  • Matchup Odds
  • Republican to Win State+220
  • Democrat to Win State-280

Michigan apparently has buyer’s remorse after shocking political pundits and the Clinton campaign alike in 2016 by backing Trump. Before the previous election, Democrats carried the state in six consecutive contests, last voting red in 1988 – for George H. W. Bush.

It’s crucial to note that Donald Trump just barely eeked out a victory over Hillary by a margin of 0.3 points – and that’s after her campaign ignored the state entirely. Compared to Obama’s 9.5-point lead over Romney in 2012, it looks like 2016 was more of a fluke than a trend — brought on by negligent campaign strategy.

Biden is thoroughly crushing the incumbent in Michigan’s statewide polls.

He frequently sees double-digit leads in select surveys, though the RCP average is slightly more cautious in giving the Democrats a 7.5-point advantage.

Even with the steep price, I can’t justify betting against the Democratic challenger in this race. Give me Biden at –280.
Electoral College Bet
Democrat to Win
-280

Nevada

RealClearPolitics (RCP) Poll Average:

Joe Biden: 48.3

Donald Trump: 44.3

Spread: Biden +4.0

ElectionBettingOdds.com Projection:

Democrats Win: 83.7%

Republicans Win: 16.3%

Electoral College Odds

  • Matchup Odds
  • Republican to Win State+375
  • Democrat to Win State-500

Nevada is a real swing state, though it’s said to be trending blue these days. I’m not so sure.

After helping elect George W. Bush twice, it’s gone to the Democrats for the past three straight elections. However, the DNC’s candidate has won by smaller margins in each subsequent contest. Obama won by 12.5 points in 2008, then 6.7 in 2012, and finally, Hillary finished 2.4-points ahead of Trump in 2016.

Now, admittedly, those numbers probably have more to do with the specific circumstances of each election than an overarching trend. In 2008, Barack Obama was accepted as an almost Messiah-like figure after eight years of Bush. Four years later, he was just another politician who hadn’t quite delivered on the promise of “Hope.” And Hillary is one of the most unlikable people in US politics.

The pollsters have Biden leading President Trump by 4 points, which is much closer than the betting odds would suggest.

Remember:
Bernie Sanders dominated the Nevada primary caucuses back in February, nearly doubling Joe Biden’s vote totals.

Living here, I see no indication that the current Democratic ticket is generating similar levels of enthusiasm. What I did notice is people camping outside for days before Donald Trump’s last rally here – though, admittedly, that was before the pandemic.

Still, the contest is close enough to warrant taking the value at +375 in a state polling at relatively narrow margins.

I can’t imagine laying –500 on a candidate leading by only 4 points during the incumbent’s most vulnerable period of his presidency.

Electoral College Bet
Republican to Win
+375

North Carolina

RealClearPolitics (RCP) Poll Average:

Joe Biden: 47.2

Donald Trump: 44.2

Spread: Biden +3.0

ElectionBettingOdds.com Projection:

Democrats Win: 58.3%

Republicans Win: 41.7%

Electoral College Odds

  • Matchup Odds
  • Republican to Win State-105
  • Democrat to Win State-125

North Carolina is one of the most hotly contested battlegrounds of the 2020 election cycle. Since 1980, the Democratic candidate has only carried the state once – and that was during Barack Obama’s historic 2008 run.

At the moment, Joe Biden leads by 3 points in the polls, within the average margin of error. Donald Trump carried the state by 3.7 points in 2016, improving upon Romney’s performance (+2.0) in the previous election year.

This is a situation in which I’m merely taking the more favorable odds. North Carolina is a toss-up (which, in and of itself, signals bad times ahead for Trump), and both candidates’ implied probabilities are higher than the Election Betting Odds projections – meaning, that if those percentages are accurate, those no real betting value to be found.

Either stay away or take the better slightly better price.
Electoral College Bet
Republican to Win
-105

Ohio

RealClearPolitics (RCP) Poll Average:

Joe Biden: 44.7

Donald Trump: 44.7

Spread: Tie

ElectionBettingOdds.com Projection:

Democrats Win: 55.9%

Republicans Win: 44.1%

Electoral College Odds

  • Matchup Odds
  • Republican to Win State-145
  • Democrat to Win State+115

Ohio is similar to Florida, in how: 1) Any over-the-top insane news headline that doesn’t involve “Florida Man” takes place in Ohio instead, and 2) it’s a swing state that decides presidential elections.

It’s only fitting that Donald Trump and Joe Biden are currently locked in a tie, based on the RCP averages.

Meanwhile, the PredictIt markets are reasonably bullish on the Democrats, pushing the EBO projection to 55.9% in favor of Biden. At the same time, the BetOnline’s oddsmakers give Donald Trump a 59.18% implied probability of carrying the state.

Looking at Ohio’s voting history, the Midwestern state’s 18 electoral college votes almost always go to the incumbent. Clinton carried Ohio in 92 and 96, Bush in 00-04, and Obama in 08-12. So, I’m leaning towards Donald Trump winning here in 2020 after beating Hillary by 8.1 points the last election.

Except, all the betting value – if you trust the PredictIt markets — is on the other side.

I’m going to say the Election Betting Odds projections are overestimating Biden’s chances and take Trump to continue the pattern of incumbents winning in Ohio.
Electoral College Bet
Republican to Win
-145

Pennsylvania

RealClearPolitics (RCP) Poll Average:

Joe Biden: 48.7

Donald Trump: 41.7

Spread: Biden +7.0

ElectionBettingOdds.com Projection:

Democrats Win: 69.8%

Republicans Win: 30.2%

Electoral College Odds

  • Matchup Odds
  • Republican to Win State+190
  • Democrat to Win State-240

I have very little faith in Donald Trump carrying Pennsylvania again. Before 2016, Democratic candidates won the previous six elections. Plus, he only beat a widely disliked candidate like Hillary Clinton – who ran a particularly dreadful campaign — by a margin of 0.7 last time.

Add in the fact that the Democratic candidate is “Scranton” Joe himself, and this looks like a “gimme” state for Biden. The local son is currently leading President Trump by 7 points and is given a nearly 70% chance of winning by the political betting prognosticators.

Biden could do almost nothing in PA between now and November and he should still carry the state. A win by less than a point over Hillary Clinton is a loss versus almost anybody else.
Electoral College Bet
Democrat to Win
-240

Texas

RealClearPolitics (RCP) Poll Average:

Joe Biden: 43.3

Donald Trump: 45.8

Spread: Trump +2.5

ElectionBettingOdds.com Projection:

Democrats Win: 35.1%

Republicans Win: 64.9%

Electoral College Odds

  • Matchup Odds
  • Republican to Win State-280
  • Democrat to Win State+220

I covered the possibility of Texas turning blue in another article this week, so you can read my more detailed take on the direction the state’s headed there. I do believe Texas eventually becoming a Democratic-leaning state is an inevitability, but it won’t happen in 2020.

Donald Trump is leading in the RCP polling averages by 2.5 points after defeating Clinton by a margin of 9.0 in 2016. Romney comfortably carried Texas by 15.8 in 2012, so the Lone Star State is trending in the right direction for Democrats; it’s just still too soon.

Biden’s +220 betting line is tempting, taking value into consideration; but if I’m making a prediction, a Republican victory at –280 is the more realistic option.
Electoral College Bet
Republican to Win
-280

Wisconsin

RealClearPolitics (RCP) Poll Average:

Joe Biden: 48.5

Donald Trump: 42.0

Spread: Biden +6.5

ElectionBettingOdds.com Projection:

Democrats Win: 69.8.1%

Republicans Win: 30.2%

Electoral College Odds

  • Matchup Odds
  • Republican to Win State+160
  • Democrat to Win State-190

Wisconsin is another one of those surprise Trump wins in 2016 destined to reverse course this year. Like Pennsylvania, the Republican ticket only narrowly defeated Clinton by a fraction of a point (0.7) in 2016 after supporting every previous Democrat since 1988.

The state elected a Democratic governor in 2018. A liberal judge won a special election for a Wisconsin supreme court seat back in April, despite interference from the court’s conservative majority, which limited absentee voting and blocked attempts by the Governor to delay the election due to the pandemic.

All of this suggests that absent a universally detested Democratic candidate, and following Trump’s failure to “clean the swamp” or make good on his more populist rhetoric in 2016, Wisconsin will be returning to the blue team.
Electoral College Bet
Democrat to Win
-190
Will Cormier / Author

Will Cormier is a sports and political betting writer living in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. When he’s not wandering around the streets of the Arts District aimlessly, a lifetime of pessimism and paranoia has made Will perfectly suited for handicapping politics. Cormier tries to analyze current events as objectively as possible – a strategy that often enrages loyalists on both the right and the left. When he’s not covering major upcoming elections, Will enjoys writing about basketball, football, and MMA from a betting perspective. He also loves dogs, ice cream sundaes, the movie “Stomp the Yard,” and long walks on the beach.