Who won last night’s presidential debate? Not Trump, betting site says

Last night’s debate in Nashville didn’t change the odds of Joe Biden beating Donald Trump to win the presidency on Nov. 3.

That’s the verdict from one of the most closely watched political betting markets. Smarkets, a U.K.-based gambling company that allows wagers on political contests as well as sporting events, says Biden’s chances of winning remain unchanged at 67%, while Trump has a 33% chance of retaining the presidency.

The Electoral College forecast also wasn’t shifted by the final presidential debate of the 2020 campaign, with state-by-state wagers implying a 317–221 Electoral College victory for Biden, according to Smarkets.

There was a slight move in Biden’s favor in some key battleground states, according to Smarkets’ betting. The Democrat’s odds of winning Florida ticked up slightly to 55%, from about 51% before the debate, while Trump’s odds moved down from 50% to around 46%. In North Carolina, Trump’s chances also sagged by a similar amount.

Academic studies have shown the betting markets often provide more accurate forecasts of election results than traditional opinion polling. Among real-money political markets, Smarkets is carefully watched because it operates a peer-to-peer system, where odds are set only by the amount of money wagered on each side of a contract. In other gambling sites, a human or electronic bookmaker sets the odds to try to ensure the betting company itself always makes at least a small profit, and this can distort the predictive value of the odds.

The company says that about $13.7 million has currently been wagered in its “Next President” market, which takes bets on who will be the next U.S. leader.

The fact that a record number of Americans have already voted this year, taking advantage of early voting programs or mail-in voting, is one reason the debate had little impact on the betting odds, Sarbjit Bakhshi, Smarkets head of political markets, said.

“With over 49 million votes already cast, the pool of undecided voters up for grabs is shrinking by the day, and last night’s debate in Tennessee contained few surprises,” he said.

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