Is Bernie Sanders a Viable Betting Option in the 2020 Election?

By Taylor Smith in Politics on April 18, 2019

9

Minute Read

Headlines leading up to the 2016 presidential election centered heavily around the 2 major candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Trump’s rise from an afterthought to a legitimate presidential contender was obviously the main story of that election, but let’s not forget that 2016 also thrust Vermont senator Bernie Sanders into the political mainstream.

Sanders wound up losing the Democratic party’s nomination in favor of Clinton, but the nomination was far more hotly-contested than many predicted it would be. It seemed as though Clinton headlining the Democratic side of the ticket was fait accompli, but Sanders’ grassroots campaign gave her a run for her money.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton

3 years later, there is no shortage of Democratic candidates throwing their names into the ring in anticipation of defeating Trump in 2020. Clinton is not running after her upset defeat in ‘16, but Bernie is back. Sanders announced back in February that he plans to make another run for the Oval Office in the next election.

With so many candidates having already entered the fray, betting on the 2020 election at this stage is a pretty risky endeavor. There are a whopping 18 candidates that have announced plans to run, while others are still expected to join the race. The most noteworthy name that has not yet announced whether he’ll run is former vice president Joe Biden. It seems very likely that Biden will run, and once he jumps in he’s going to be considered one of the betting favorites to win the nomination.

While the field may be laden with candidates, it’s already pretty easy to project which ones will have some staying power. Biden figures to be in it for the long haul if he does enter the race, while Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke and Bernie Sanders have all polled favorably early on.

Bernie was an incredible long shot 3 years ago, but if that election taught us anything it’s that anything is truly possible in this day and age of American politics. Is Sanders a viable betting option when it comes to the 2020 election?

Early Odds

Bernie is listed among the odds-on favorites, but his odds of actually winning the election are still pretty long. MyBookie has a number of prop bets posted regarding the upcoming election, and Sanders is listed at +320 to win the Democratic party’s nomination. That means Bernie has slightly better odds than Biden (+350) and O’Rourke (+500), with lower odds than Harris (+250).

Bernie is also listed at +1400 to win the presidential election, which puts him behind Trump (-300), Harris (+550), Biden (+900) and the field (+550). Clearly, some betting sites in the United States, are more bullish on Bernie’s ability to secure the Democratic nomination than they are on his chances of winning the general election.

What’s Stopping Bernie from Winning?

Sanders is an unorthodox candidate in that he essentially openly identifies himself as a “Democratic socialist.” “Socialism” is a word that comes with plenty of negative connotation in the United States, but many of Sanders’ policy ideas that he ran on in 2016 have since become cornerstones of the Democratic party’s political agenda.

Bernie was one of the first candidates to propose free healthcare for all, as well as the idea of debt-free higher education. Another idea that has gained less traction among some of his fellow Democratic candidates is the plan to install a system for universal basic income.

Bernie Sanders for President

Sanders detractors argue that many of his plans are pie-in-the-sky and that there is no realistic way to install or enact portions of his agenda. It’s also fair to say that his age is a factor. Bernie will turn 79 just a couple of months before the 2020 election.

Some will also argue that a candidate whose ideas are as far-left as Sanders’ doesn’t stand a great chance at attracting middle-of-the-road voters. Some political analysts believe that the Democrats’ best chance of unseating Trump is to lure some of the voters that voted for Trump in 2016 that may be questioning the idea of voting for him again next time around. That’s why some centrist candidates (Howard Schultz, John Delaney Tim Ryan, etc.) have decided to run.

What’s Going in Bernie’s Favor?

The sheer number of candidates in the field will also make it difficult for some of them to break into the mainstream. However, thanks mostly to his out-of-nowhere success in the last election, Sanders is already one of the most recognizable candidates in the race.

Trump’s stunning victory in 2016 can at least be partially attributed to his celebrity. Not every voter votes with policy in mind. Many will vote along party lines, while others may vote for someone they recognize or may have heard of.

Biden and Sanders are probably the most well-known candidates on the Democratic side, while Beto O’Rourke is another candidate that gained fame for his run for Ted Cruz’ seat in the Senate last fall.

If you watch any political coverage on television, you’re likely to see some people continue to scoff at the notion that Sanders can actually win a general election. This is, of course, insane. Donald Trump won the presidential election 3 years ago. Anything is possible.

Sanders already boasts an avid base of supporters, which is something that certainly can’t be said about most of his competitors on the Democratic side. Like Trump, Sanders’ base is pretty unlikely to waver as the field continues to grow. The fact that so many of Sanders’ original policy ideas have become mainstream Democratic platforms in the years since his initial run means he’s clearly doing something right, and that these ideas are popular ones.

Betting the Field

At this point, betting on any candidate is something that carries plenty of risks. It’s a near certainty that Trump will headline the Republican ticket once again, so at this point, it’s fair to say that the incumbent is the safest bet on the board. Of course, there isn’t much value on betting on Trump to win the next election, as MyBookie has him tabbed as a heavy -300 favorite.

President Donald Trump

Biden is the presumed favorite among Democrats if he does throw his hat into the ring. However, he faces some similar question marks. Biden will be 77 by the time election night rolls around in the fall of 2020. However, his reputation is generally positive thanks to his run as vice president for Barack Obama, and he’s a far more moderate candidate than more progressive types like Sanders and Warren.

That said, it’s hard not to feel as though Biden missed what may have been his best chance by declining to run in 2016. Biden would have stood a strong chance of earning the party’s nomination that year with his popularity at an all-time high. Biden has been largely out of the public eye since leaving his VP post, and he isn’t necessarily aligned with some of the Democratic party’s more left-leaning policy ideas. Not yet, at least.

As was the case with Clinton, there is always a chance that whichever candidate does wind up earning the nomination will have no choice but to adopt some left-leaning policy ideas in order to expand their base of prospective voters.

Biden is definitely a solid betting option at +350 to earn his party’s nomination, and at +900 to win the general election. If Sanders isn’t the nominee, at this point it seems likely that Biden would be the choice.

Can Bernie Win in 2020?

At this point, I think Sanders should be taken seriously as one of the frontrunners as we get closer to the 2020 election. The field of Democrats will get whittled down considerably over the next year or so, and, at this point, the candidates with serious long-term potential seem to be Bernie, Biden, Harris, Warren, and Buttigieg. The jury is out on O’Rourke, who seems like a complete wild card to me.

For now, I’d avoid betting on Beto to earn the Democratic nomination at +500. This isn’t to say that he isn’t completely capable of earning the nomination, but when betting on something as generally unpredictable as politics I’d prefer my bets to carry more upside. +500 isn’t awful, but I’m skeptical that O’Rourke has what it takes to seriously contend.

Sanders, right now, looks like a viable contender, so at +1400 to win the election in 2020, I think he’s worth a shot. The odds are only going to get less profitable as other contenders start to bow out of the race. Taking advantage of the +1400 price on Bernie right now makes a lot of sense if you’re a bettor with some risk tolerance.

Will Bernie win in 2020? Time will tell, but I do think the notion isn’t as crazy as it may have sounded 3 years ago around this time. Taking advantage of odds like this can be hugely profitable in the long run.

Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, but he’s willing to take one for the team on that front every now and then.

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