Joe Biden may still hold a comfortable lead over Donald Trump in the national polls, but betting odds are now indicating that this will be a closer presidential election than some may think.
According to betting website Smarkets, the incumbent president and his Democratic challenger are now virtually neck-and-neck in their chances of victory for the first time in three months. As of Wednesday morning, the site’s betting market data gave Biden a 50% probability of winning the presidency, with Trump only just trailing with a 49% chance of his own.
That’s a major turnaround from where the two candidates stood at this time last month, when Biden led Trump by 28 percentage points. It’s also the first time since the turn of June that Trump and Biden’s respective probabilities have been so close, according to Smarkets.
A number of factors have contributed to the president’s closing of the gap between him and Biden as of late—namely, the ongoing tumult between protesters, counter-protestors, and police in places like Kenosha, Wisc., and Portland, Ore., which Trump has sought to politicize in his favor.
“Growing civil unrest in Portland and Wisconsin over the summer has given Trump a chance to project his law-and-order stance, and he is seemingly turning the market back in his favor,” says Sarbjit Bakhshi, Smarkerts’ head of political markets.
Despite the toss-up probability, Smarkets’ live election forecast is still projecting a victory for Biden, with 302 electoral college votes for the Democratic nominee to Trump’s 236—though that margin has swung by 10 votes in Trump’s favor in the span of a week. The site is also projecting a 1-in-3 chance that the President repeats his 2016 feat of winning the election while losing the national popular vote.
Bakshi notes that trading activity on Smarkets’ platform “implies an 80% probability that the Democrats win the popular vote.” Still, he adds, “if our electoral college markets also start to move from their current prediction of a Democrat victory, things could be looking bleak for Biden.”
Yet the Biden campaign has also had its fair share of good news this week. On Tuesday, it emerged that the campaign had fundraised more than $300 million in August alone—shattering the monthly fundraising record for a presidential campaign.
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