Presumptive Democrat nominee Joe Biden’s vice presidential pick is agonisingly tantalising; it’s one that has many political pundits debating the candidates to exhaustion and has media analysts taking the measure of through various opinion polls. Even, sportsbooks have joined the fray, putting in their two cents by rolling out a veritable buffet of political odds for: Who will Joe Biden pick as his vice president?
Never has the choice of a running mate been more crucial in America’s political history, not least because it could potentially mark a historical first. Equally, this is an unprecedented period in the history of mankind and as the 2020 race for president of the United States runs against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, economic expertise and crisis management skills are widely becoming desired must-haves in the selection process.
During the CNN Univision debate in Washington DC in March, Biden pledged to choose a female running mate. “If I’m elected president, my Cabinet, my administration will look like the country, and I commit that I will, in fact, appoint a, pick a woman to be vice president.” [Source: CNN politics]
Biden’s decision two months ago to settle on a woman isn’t in itself historic. It wouldn’t mark the first-time that a female running mate is chosen by the Democratic party. That honourable distinction goes to Geraldine Ferraro, who was the first woman overall in U.S history to get the nod for the second-highest position in the country. (Ferraro was the running mate of Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale in 1984, who lost the elections to Republican Ronald Regan.)
Alaska governor Sarah Palin (2006-2009) became the second woman in history to get the VP nod. In addition, she was the first female Republican party nominee for vice president of the United States when Arizona senator John McCain gave her the nod in 2008.
No, the consequence of Biden’s selection is only going to be significant to posterity if the former two-term, vice president was to actually beat Donald Trump in November. A win by Biden in the 2020 US Elections would mean the Oval office would finally for the first time see a woman as the second-in-command.
Working on the assumption that Biden will keep to his promise to settle on a female VP, it stands to reason that female candidates dominate political betting markets for the veep pick, of which the top favorites are made up of female Democratic politicians that are familiar with voters. Women that threw down the gauntlet for the 2020 US presidential race but have since dropped out.
California Senator Kamala Harris is tipped as the top favorite at +170 for Biden’s nod at Bovada, which is one of the many offshore sportsbooks offering political futures for the upcoming general elections. Meanwhile Senators Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) and Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota) nip at her heels on the odds board, representing another couple of strong candidates in the race for vice president.
Outliers in the vice presidential field include former Georgia House Representative Stacey Abrams and Florida House Representative Val Demings, amongst several others – all of which appear to be significant longshots with bookmakers. That said, of the aforementioned two, Stacey Abrams did recently see her odds slashed by Bovada to +900, erasing almost half of the Georgia Democrat’s previous value of +1600 in the VP market.
Bovada’s review of the vice-presidential odds is interesting, if not a bit eyebrow-raising – after all, Abrams announced last August that she wouldn’t be running in the presidential race, choosing instead to focus on voting rights initiatives. Unlike Kamala Harris, who made no bones about her White House ambitions when she put forward a concentrated presidential run until bowing out reluctantly in December.
Markets are in constant flux and this latest market move by Bovada could be in reaction to the growing push for Biden to choose an African-American as his running mate rather than being purely predictive of how Biden’s team is approaching the vetting process. The Washington Post to the New York Times and every other publication in between has covered this push for an African-American selection at length.
It could be in response to Abrams’ ramping up public campaigning for the job, skilfully putting herself in the media’s eye in recent weeks by doing the rounds of high-profile interviews. Last week, Abrams appeared alongside Biden on MSNBC, almost as a subtle audition to become his VP nominee.
Earlier this month, in a CNN interview with Christiane Amanpour, Abrams responded to the VP question by saying ‘as a woman, as a person of colour, as a woman of colour, it is my responsibility to answer honestly and forthrightly, and if the question is about whether I’m competent and qualified for the job my answer must be unequivocal.” [Source: CNN politics]
Recent polls revealed some interesting trends amongst Democratic voters, one of which was a poll conducted by CBS News that showed Abrams was closing the gap on the top three frontrunners and giving them a run for their money.
Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren emerged as the favourite among registered Democratic voters polled, with a whopping 71% identifying Warren as a candidate that should be considered for the job. In response to the direct question of which political hopeful was their first choice, however, the result was most intriguing. After Warren (36%), voters appeared to be evenly split between Harris (19%) Abrams (14%) and Klobuchar (13%). This second part of the poll was even more astonishing when considering no other candidate received more than 4% votes.
Of course, polls provide context against which one can get a sense of which way voters might be leaning but they’re not definitive. In turn, odds provide a sense of which way Biden’s camp might lean but they’re not absolute. Anything can happen in the political arena, it’s constantly changing. One thing though remains constant – regardless of which way the 2020 US Elections are cut when all is said and done – and that it’s likely to be historic, one way or another.