Donald Trump’s positive COVID-19 test has thrown a new degree of uncertainty into the US presidential election – enough so that bookmakers around the world no longer feel confident offering odds on the contest.
President Trump announced that he had tested positive in the early hours of Friday morning.
Oddsmakers: ‘So Much Uncertainty’ Following Trump COVID-19 News
The announcement followed news earlier on Thursday that Trump adviser Hope Hicks had tested positive.
Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2020
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”
Major betting sites around the world suspended their presidential markets in the wake of the news. Those included companies like TAB and Betfair. American sportsbooks cannot offer political betting markets in any state under current laws.
TAB spokesperson Shaun Anderson told Yahoo News Australia that Democratic nominee Joe Biden had moved to 1.57 (-175) before the suspension, while Trump was at 2.50 (+150).
“That’s the lowest he’s been,” Anderson said. “He firmed quite a bit after the debate.”
Anderson also pointed out that there had been significant movement for one other potential winner after the Trump COVID-19 news: Vice President Mike Pence.
“Pence was obviously the one who moved today. It’s a big jump from [300/1 to 26/1],” Anderson told Yahoo News. “There’s just so many variables, that’s the reason why the market is closed. There is so much uncertainty.”
Political prediction exchange market PredictIt kept its markets live, providing insight into how bettors reacted to the news. Trading volume spiked in the hour after Trump announced he had contracted COVID-19, with over 560,000 contracts traded compared to just under 195,000 in the hour of the announcement.
That level of volume inevitably led to pricing changes. Trump contracts were as high as $0.42 (the equivalent of +138) before news broke that Hicks had tested positive, then fell as low as $0.35 (+185) right after the announcement. As of Friday morning, Trump contracts were bouncing between $0.38 (+163) and $0.40 (+150). All contracts pay $1 if a candidate wins the presidential election.
Pence Odds Tighten Overnight
Once again, the biggest changes involved Vice President Pence. A day ago, the market priced his contracts at just $0.01 (+9900). After spiking as high as $0.07 (+1329), they’ve drifted back to $0.05 (+1900).
Dave Mason of BetOnline.ag posted to Twitter on Friday morning to show how the bookmaker’s presidential election odds had shifted since the Trump COVID-19 announcement. Once again, the biggest mover was Pence, who jumped from +10000 to +2000. Biden’s position also strengthened, as he moved from -160 to -190.
Presidential Odds Update:
BEFORE President Trump's positive COVID test:
Pence +10000 (100-1)
AFTER President Trump's positive COVID test:
Pence +2000 (20-1)
— Dave Mason (@DaveMasonBOL) October 2, 2020
The news of President Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis could impact the president race in numerous ways. Beyond both short-term and long-term concerns over the president’s health, there are immediate logistical issues.
Self-isolation protocols will likely rule the president out of campaigning for at least the next two weeks. President Trump cancelled plans to fly to Florida for a campaign rally on Friday, and his participation in events early next week seems impossible. It’s unclear at this time whether candidates will participate in the next presidential debate on Oct. 15 in Miami.
As of Friday morning, sources told The New York Times that President Trump was experiencing only mild symptoms of the coronavirus. One person told the newspaper that the president had appeared lethargic at a Thursday fundraiser, while another described coldlike symptoms.