When presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Wednesday laid out plans on “The Late, Late Show with James Corden” for forming an vice presidential advisory committee, one of the most-watched political decisions of the year kicked into another gear.
At least 15 sportsbooks around the world are now offering odds on Biden’s selection for a running mate. Among dozens of possible contenders, California Senator Kamala Harris is the overwhelming favorite at all of them — with odds ranging from 11/5 to 6/4.
The two other frontrunners are Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar (3/1) and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (6/1).
Early lines show a preference for senators, and all three frontrunners are former presidential candidates. Governors in the spotlight handling their state’s response to the coronavirus, also are starting to register on the betting board.
Women Up Front
Biden promised at the last Democratic debate in Las Vegas in February that he would choose a woman as his running mate. On Corden’s show, the former vice president said he’d form an advisory committee by May 1, and have a short list of two or three contenders by early July.
Biden said he is foremost looking for someone who is “capable of being President of the United States tomorrow.”
But political watchers say there’s more that goes into choosing who gets the number-two spot in a presidential campaign, and the odds reflect some of that.
Odds to Be the Democratic VP Nominee
- Kamala Harris – 7/4
- Amy Klobuchar – 3/1
- Elizabeth Warren – 6/1
- Gretchen Whitmer – 8/1
- Stacey Abrams – 10/1
- Michelle Obama – 12/1
- Catherine Cortez-Masto – 20/1
- Hillary Clinton – 33/1
- Val Demings – 33/1
- Tammy Duckworth – 50/1
- Tammy Baldwin – 50/1
- Mitt Romney – 66/1
- 24 others – 100/1
With eyes on both the electoral and popular vote, having a running mate from a different part of the country traditionally has been seen as a benefit. With Biden hailing from Delaware, Harris’s being from California helps cover the country coast-to-coast. But that of course leaves a gap in so-called “flyover” country.
Enter second-pick Klobuchar, whose Midwestern sensibilities could help connect with parts of the country that previously went for Trump. Similarly, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could be seen as an asset through the Midwest and the Rust Belt.
Amongst governors, she appears strongest positioned at 10/1. Her role during the current coronavirus crisis — and being a target of Donald Trump’s vitriol — appears to have given Whitmer an extra boost. The COVID-19 pandemic has put state leaders on a larger stage than members of Congress working from home. So her position as a popular governor from a key swing state that Trump won in 2016 further explains why bettors like her chances best among those who didn’t participate in any DNC debates.
Senate in the Balance?
Still, all but three Democratic VP choices since 1940 have been sitting senators. It’s something to consider from a Democratic Party that is likely to not want to gamble with any vulnerable Senate seats.
When a sitting senator leaves their seat before the end of their term, in most cases the governor appoints a replacement to complete the term or hold office until a special election is set. This is a plus for Harris. Should she become VP, choosing her replacement would fall to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat.
With the Dems trying to claw back a Senate majority, many political prognosticators contend that choosing a Senator from a state with a sitting Democratic governor is essential.
While that bodes well for Klobuchar, too (Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is a Democrat), it’s sure to make bettors uneasy about Elizabeth Warren, whose odds range more widely than the rest, from 12/1 to 9/2. While she is seen as a strong representative for the Democratic Party’s progressive wing — and helpful to bring Bernie Sanders supporters over to Biden — the fact that Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is a Republican could be be a dealbreaker.
Political Betting Intangibles
Other important factors to Veep bettors can include harder-to-quantify elements in the selection process. Personal chemistry, for example. Both Klobuchar – one of the first former Democratic presidential candidates to endorse Biden – and Whitmer appeared recently on Biden’s podcast.
Betting frontrunner Harris, of course, is already well known to have a strong existing bond with Biden. She was a longtime friend of Biden’s late son, Beau. Harris recently appeared with Biden at a virtual fundraiser.
Another factor bettors are likely to be considering is age. At 55, Harris is 22 years younger than Biden, who at 77 is the oldest US presidential candidate in history.
It’s another strike against Warren, who turns 71 in June.