Predicting the Democratic Nomination for President

With the 2016 primary season in full swing, we wanted to take a look at the sportsbooks to see what bets people were taking on the various candidates to win the Democratic party’s ticket for the 2016 Presidential election. For our take on the Republican nomination, go here. We pulled data from OddsChecker – Democratic Candidate Betting Odds starting around June of 2015. These odds are based on people’s bets so they are not exactly based on polling data, but you can be sure that polling data and people’s expectations of current events, debates, etc. are built into these odds giving a reasonable measure of the current standings. If you’re more interested in reading about the Democratic primary election, Democratic Party presidential candidates has a lot of valuable information summarizing the remaining candidates, those who dropped out, and other potential candidates who were/are still in the discussion. Joe Biden is one person who falls in the latter category who we will discuss later in this post.

The Current Situation

Below are the current odds to win. This can essentially be viewed as our projection for the Democratic nominee as the odds take into account everything.

Odds to win 2016 Democratic Primary

Hillary Clinton

How she can win: Time. She is already dominating the primaries and there are more around the corner. This race is Hillary’s to lose. She will be the nominee with the status quo.
How she can lose: An FBI indictment…like soon.

Bernie Sanders

How he can win: At this point, his only chance is for an indictment on Hillary. The momentum he created early in the campaign doesn’t have enough strength to win him the nomination alone.
How he can lose: Lots of ways. He needs a miracle at this point.


3/2/16: Hillary did a little better than expected on Super Tuesday and her odds to win the Democratic nomination have increased to over 90% from just under 80%.

2/25/16: Original posting of article.

Looking into Democratic Primary Odds

The graphic below displays the Democratic primary odds over the course of the last 8-9 months as the election season has started heating up. Clinton has clearly been the hands down favorite to win the party’s nomination averaging around 75% and never falling below 60% during the time period. Bernie Sanders has emerged as the second candidate with a small chance at winning the nomination. As mentioned above, Biden has never actually been in the race, but he has had non-zero odds of winning the party’s nomination throughout which provides an interesting twist.

The media will have you believe that with every state primary election that the sky is falling for a candidate, but this couldn’t be further from the case as the probabilities have been very steady.

Explaining Clinton’s Dominance

Clinton is by far the clear favorite for the party’s nomination. She has a lot of interesting selling points
that work to her advantage. She would be the first female US President. This is a strong selling point for her as she is likely to get the female vote especially amongst Democratic and independent voters. In addition, she is likely to get votes from people whose focus is on social progress. Secondly, Hillary is connected with her husband who was President during a time of great economic development and prosperity in the US. Many people believe having her as president is equivalent to eight more years of former President Bill Clinton. Whether this will be the case or not, it is undeniable that people feel this way. With such a consistent big lead, the biggest hurdle that Hillary will face in getting the party’s nomination is not likely to be any other candidate, but instead any fallout that should occur from her own controversy.

Betting On a Non-Player?

The odds for Joe Biden to receive the party’s nomination have been as high as 20%. But why would people place bets on a guy who has declined to enter the race? If you look at the previous graphic, notice that Biden’s odds hovered around 10% and actually started increasing a bit around September of 2015 and peaked around mid-October. Hillary Clinton’s scandal related to security measures involving job related email have greatly affected Biden’s odds. The scandal public in March 2015. and as a result, Clinton is currently under investigation by the FBI.

At the heart of this investigation back in fall of 2015, Biden clearly became the party’s backup plan in case Clinton fell through which is reflected in his increased odds. As time passed and the initial news became less current, support for Clinton once again increased. As long as there is still uncertainty as to what will happen to Clinton, Biden will be a player. However, this should only last as long as the primaries. Sanders is not a traditional Democrat so he does not likely have the party’s full support, so any odds on Biden represent the chance that something will actually happen to Clinton multiplied by the likelihood that Clinton supporters actually switch to Biden.

Emergence of Bernie Sanders

Outside of the email scandal, the other interesting narrative related to the Democratic race has been the emergence of Bernie Sanders as a real challenger to Clinton for the party’s nomination. Sanders is not viewed as a traditional Democrat. This is very important as many voters are sick of the bipartisan system in America and want change. For the Democratic party, Sanders fits this role. Furthermore, Sanders is running on a platform that is focused on reducing income inequality which can appeal to many working/middle class voters. He also has positioned himself as a candidate that has not sold out to big corporations and wealthy investors focusing more on a grassroots approach to funding his campaign.

In the graphic, you can see that he has some traction in the Democratic race. Recently in the Iowa caucus, Sanders was basically able to get half of the votes and took 21 delegates to Clinton’s 23. He followed that up by winning New Hampshire obtaining fifteen delegates to Clinton’s nice, but Clinton took Nevada twenty to fifteen.