Maybe it’s just because I was born and raised in Cincinnati, but I don’t see a thing wrong with putting a little money down on your own team. Bud Selig and Fay Vincent be damned, I don’t think it makes a bit of difference that Charlie Hustle placed a couple thousand dollars on his boys every night to win, aside from the fact that it indicated the man had a massive gambling addiction. There ain’t much separating Pete Rose laying down $5,000 on the Reds to beat Milwaukee and the Vice President of GM choosing to receive half his salary in stock options. When it comes down to it, Wall Street is nothing more than the world’s largest betting parlor and stockbrokers are simply high end bookies. Our entire society is based off of the idea of picking “winners and losers,” whether they be stocks or politicians or spouses. Every aspect of our election coverage is steeped in the ethos of gambling, with Nate Silver and Chuck Todd playing the role of national oddsmakers and polling data being revised more often than the NFL point spreads down at the MGM Grand. All across Washington, career feds are jumping ship like rats before a strong Nor’easter, trying to position themselves behind the candidate they think will be living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave for the next four years. Like I said, picking winners and losers.
Yet, thanks to our country’s convoluted and puritanical reasoning, gambling on sports & politics is still technically illegal in our great nation. For reasons based only in a shifting wasteland of moral relativity, you can place $100 on Dow Chemical to see a spike in quarterly earnings and you can drop half a grand playing the nickel slots in Atlantic City, but you can’t take the Bears over the Titans at -3.5 this weekend. So, for the purposes of the rest of this article, I will be discussing various wagers on this Tuesday’s elections that one could make if one were some sort of moral degenerate, but which my readers will most assuredly not take part in due to their strong sense of Christian duty.
- Hypothetical Bet #1 – Obama Wins with 310-329 Electoral Votes (7/1): When it comes down to betting on electoral vote counts, it is very much a crapshoot. You could simply vote for Obama to win the election, but at ¼ odds according to Ladbrokes, the returns on your bet won’t be that great. I personally believe that Obama is going to walk away with 303 electoral votes, winning the battleground states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia, while losing Florida and North Carolina. However, I’m taking the 310-329 range because it will pay out at nearly triple the rate that a bet in the 290-309 range would. If you’re really feeling apprehensive about The Sunshine State, you can always hedge this bet by betting on Romney to win Florida at 8/11 odds, giving you a better shot at winning money should the Mittmentum really take off on Tuesday1.
- Hypothetical Bet #2 – The Winner of Ohio is Not Elected President (12/1): Once, again I don’t believe that this is actually going to happen, but the potential upside is so great that it’s worth plunking a few dollars down. As the major media outlets are fond of mentioning, the last man to win the Presidency without the Buckeye State’s seal of approval was Jack Kennedy back in 1960 and, based on their recent campaign itineraries, the candidates are well aware of this fact. However, there are a number of different plausible combinations that can result in either Obama and Romney winning The White House without Ohio. HuffPo Pollster currently has Obama with a statistically significant, but relatively modest 3% lead over Romney in Ohio and, should he lose his lead in state, it’s not unreasonable to see Obama eke out a victory with losses in Ohio, Virginia and Florida, provided he can keep his leads in Iowa, Colorado, Wisconsin and New Hampshire. Conversely, Romney could lose Ohio and still win if he could overtake Obama in Wisconsin, Colorado, Virginia, Florida, and either Iowa or New Hampshire.
- Hypothetical Bet #3 – Scott Brown wins Massachusetts Senate Race (5/1): Remember how I said at the beginning of all this that betting was kosher provided that you vote for your own team? Well, this is the one exception and not just because the odds are ridiculously slanted towards Democrat Elizabeth Warren for a race that the Boston Globe had as tied earlier this week. It is more than fine for any card-carrying liberal to bet on Scott Brown for the win because he is, maybe, one of five moderate Republicans left in the Senate along with Lisa Murkowski (AK), Mark Kirk (IL), Olympia Snowe (ME) & Susan Collins (ME).2 Despite what the DNC and various liberal super PACs may claim, Scott Brown winning another term in the Senate isn’t the end of the world so long as his victory doesn’t take control of the Senate away from the Democratic Party. Being a conservative in Massachusetts is roughly equivalent to being a Liberal in Oklahoma anyhow.3
- Hypothetical Bet #4 – CNN to Make the Evening’s First Premature Call (10/1): OK, so I made this last bet up, but I think it’s a great one for alleviating the stress that will inevitably surface when Chris Matthews or Shep Smith begin calling states for their candidate when 2% of the vote has been tabulated. I have Fox News (7/2) and MSNBC (5/1) as the favorites for oddsmaking purposes, with Fox barely out partisan-ing MSNBC due to their longer track record of biased reportage and their aversion to reality. MSNBC climbs to a close second based almost solely on the spastic outbursts of Chris Matthews, who may well call a state for the ghost of Jack Kennedy by night’s end. All of the major networks (NBC, CBS, ABC) are up in the 20/1 range as they still have to adhere to some semblance of journalistic integrity and PBS is the long shot at 50/1, mainly because of the possibility of Jim Lehrer falling asleep mid-broadcast. However, I’m picking CNN based on their absolute lack of relevance or audience share and the pitiful desperation that accompanies it. They’ve already proven their capability for baseless reporting with their botched coverage of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare earlier this year and there’s no telling what could happen when you give Wolf Blitzer a bunch of preliminary poll results.
1For example, if you correctly wagered $50 on Obama to get between 310-329 electoral votes while placing $100 on Romney to win Florida, then you would win a total of $250. However, if Romney won Florida and Obama’s final vote count was below that 310-329 range, you would still walk away with $23 in earnings. The only way you would lose money (and you’d lose all of it) is if Obama managed to win Florida and enough other states to get more than 330 electoral votes, a scenario that 538 Blog’s Nate Silver has happening in a little over 25% of his current simulations.
2The qualification for moderate Republican status in this instance was having a lifetime voting record rating of less than 75 by the American Conservative Union. For what it’s worth, I would also include outgoing Indiana Senator Dick Lugar in this group of moderates despite his lifetime ACU score of 77.02.
3The ACU gave Scott Brown’s voting record a score of 50 for 2011,earning him the honor of being the most liberal conservative in the Senate along with Lisa Murkowski (AK). By comparison there is Dan Boren, who serves as the Democratic Representative from Oklahoma’s 2nd district and received a score of 48 from the ACU on his voting record last year.
Categories: US Politics