Four short years ago, Hillary Rodham Clinton headed into voting day as the clear favorite to become the first female President of the United States of America. The Democratic candidate had weathered the storm in the preceding months and was heavily fancied to win the race to the White House.
Opponent Donald Trump had waged a long campaign against his opponent, coining the phrase ‘Crooked Hillary’ and making ranging allegations that damaged her credibility as the prospective leader of America.
Perhaps the most damaging of the claims against Clinton centered around alleged email security failings. It was claimed that the candidate hosted sensitive correspondence on a private server, and Trump was quick to hone in on the matter.
The former Secretary of State also had to contend with the loss of support following her victory over Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries. Sanders was hugely popular with voters and many did not take his defeat well. Some chose not to vote, while others even switched allegiances and voted for Trump.
But despite all of this, Clinton headed into the morning on November 8 2016 reckoned to be in the lead. Fast forward four years and Joe Biden finds himself in a similar position on political betting platforms at 1.8 to be the next US President, but can The Donald once again upset the odds?
How did Trump do it last time?
Trump’s success in the 2016 elections was rated by some observers as the biggest upset in US history. Reporting on the stunning result, Politico’s Shane Goldmacher explained: “One thing was clear from early exit polls: the divisive contest had left many Americans deeply unsatisfied with their choice. More than three in five of those interviewed viewed Trump unfavorably, meaning many who did not approve of him voted for him anyway.”
In simple terms, that means that a high percentage of people who voted for Trump didn’t particularly like him as a first choice; they just saw him as the lesser of two evils in an election race that failed to capture the imagination of many. The voter turn-out was 55.5%, slightly up on 2012, but lower than the two elections prior to that.
Trump’s self-styled position as being anti-establishment also helped him to curry favor with the floating voter. Despite having billions of dollars to his name, Trump had never formally been involved in politics prior to his run for President. This lack of exposure to the inner workings of Washington actually served to boost his popularity in some quarters, especially as his rival had already served as a Senator, as Secretary of State, and is married to former president Bill Clinton. The two runners couldn’t have been further apart in this respect and, crucially, many sided with The Donald.
— New York Post (@nypost) September 14, 2020
How can Biden do better?
With the odds in his favor, veteran Democratic candidate Joe Biden could be forgiven for running a low-key campaign and consolidating his support between now and November. But that’s unlikely to be a reasonable strategy if the events of four years ago are anything to go by.
With the betting against him, Trump has been brasher and bolder than ever before, suggesting that his opponent is too old to be President and warning citizens that law and order will be compromised if Biden wins.
Biden’s job here isn’t to court Trump’s supporters – the data shows that a large number of Republicans are unlikely to be swayed between now and voting day – but he must work hard to prevent the momentum behind his own campaign from fading.
The selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate was a smart move that will help him broaden his appeal. Harris can help the Biden campaign reach a wider audience, with her strong record in areas including law enforcement also particularly valuable.
If Joe Biden is elected, far-left lunatics won’t just be running failed Dem Cities—they will be running the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Supreme Court. No city, town or suburb will be safe. On November 3rd, your vote will SAVE AMERICA! pic.twitter.com/N8TZagbEpr
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 11, 2020
With Biden enjoying a small but noticeable lead in the betting markets, it’d be easy to dismiss the threat of Trump. But if the events of 2016 are anything to go by, it’d surely be unwise to discount The Donald and his prospects of securing another shock win.