Presidential Election Betting
by Drew Mangione - 08/02/2007
It's true: You can bet on anything, and right now the oddsmakers are calling for a first. If they're right, the next president of the United States will be a woman, a black man, or a man whose sourpuss makes Hitler and Stalin seem cheery.
Elections are three months away and I'm sure you can't wait to see what clown, puppet or maybe even qualified candidate will inhabit the White House next. Oh, but here's the cruel joke-despite all the debates on television, the constant polling and barrage of carefully-crafted media events, it's not yet 2008.
I know you didn't need me to tell you that. You probably have a calendar. What you may not know is that you can actually earn off of these less-than-earnest fools as they struggle. If we're going to suffer the constant shallow coverage and survive that sinking feeling that we've lost control of the matter, we might as well throw some dollars down now and profit.
Here are some tips to consider when placing a bet on one of the few gambling opportunities you can actually influence, even if your vote is just one in 120 million. But hey, that's a greater impact than I've ever had on a football game!
Look at their knees: Ralph Nader once said: "The only difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush, is the velocity with which their knees hit the floor when the corporate interests come knocking." Believe what you will about how things would be different if Gore had been declared the rightful victor in 2000, but the truth is that he'd sold out his biggest issue-a move he alludes to in his documentary. "The Inconvenient Truth" is that he had to sell out in order to have a chance to win. Politics is money and without Campaign Finance Reform, a candidate's fortune depends on the ability to fellate the special interests of corporate America. Be it Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, or Bush II, corporate America has won the last seven elections.
Run the bases: The current infestation at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. ran the bases extremely well in 2004. They made the election about terrorists growing strong with the knowledge that gay illegal immigrants will be aborting believers in intelligent design. The Republican base came out and put down the swelling anti-Iraq war base, which found itself trying to rally behind an obvious Ambien patient in John Kerry. Currently, the big issues appear to be the war, the economy and immigration. The Dems lead on the first two, but keep an eye on what the Republicans might break out to divert our attention.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: In the modern era of television and YouTube, it matters who is the fairest of them all. I can still see the 1988 Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis in a tank squinting his eyes as a helmet pushed down his head. Suddenly, George H.W. Bush looked like Clark Gable compared to that human whack-a-mole. Women tell me Bill Clinton apparently had sex appeal, and somehow the philanderer kept the support of the same women who say men don't respect them. So, before you place your bet, take a good look at the candidate and ask yourself: Would I?
The Devil Speaks with a forked tongue: A viable candidate must use his or her words to energize the base, while also sedating the opposition. It's not how well you articulate your point; it's how well you control perceptions. Dubya called himself a compassionate conservative in 2000, and it sedated the socially conscious centrists who stuck with Nader or ignored the race altogether. Clinton was the Sultan of Spin. Corporate America dumped boatloads of money into his campaign, but our perception of him centered on an economy for all and an environmental conscience. Did he scam them or us? Well, fuel efficiency standards never changed, measures to reduce global warming were ignored, and tax cuts continued for major corporations who profited on deregulation while the gap between rich and poor grew. Compare the facts to how you feel about a candidate and you can gauge their spin prowess.
With that said, here's a quick rundown of our options with odds taken from portlandbet.com on July 10:
Hillary Clinton (13/4): She's got what it takes. She speaks well to cover both sides of every issue and looks presidential. She's come a long way from her hair disasters of the early 90s and those suits off the racks of Arkansas' finest discount stores. She has the support of her husband, Mr. Popularity, but she also maintained her support for the Iraq war longer than any other Democrat. Like Bill, she's also got the support of corporate America. Oh, but she's a woman: something that might threaten the machismo in red state America.
Rudy Giuliani (9/2): He looks like an exhausted and depressed Gargamel, whose final year lording over Smurf village included the tragedy of 9/11. Not losing your composure in the face of such disaster is commendable, but can a candidacy stand on "I lived through 9/11?" So now Grumpy McGrump wants to keep up the war, something the American people resoundingly rejected, plus he offends the religious right-he's been married more often than J-Lo, he's irreligious and he's pro-choice. Still, he polls well and seems to have that spin machine rolling, prompting the social conservatives to think that despite his transgressions if he can beat Hillary he's the lesser of the evils.
Barack Obama (6/1): We've heard it all before: first name rhymes with Iraq, last name rhymes with Osama and in between, he's got the unfortunate middle name of Hussein. Yet, even with this coincidence, he seems the least connected to any of the three. He opposed the war from the beginning and he wants to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Still, he's a smoker and the victim of slanderous email chains alleging that despite his vocal Christianity, he's really just an Islamic fundamentalist in disguise. Does any of that matter? He's too black for many voters and not black enough for some. The real problem may be that he's too principled.
Fred Thompson (13/2): Wouldn't it be great if the party that lambastes Hollywood's elite ended up picking a second candidate in 30 years from those ranks? Sure he was a senator, who won election by going door to door in Tennessee, but his stint on Law & Order has him earning mass appeal. He's a bit of a ladies man, though he looks like a sickly prune, and still TNT marathon viewers trust him. If and when he ever announces, these aren't bad odds.
John Edwards (10/1): He's got the looks. He's a white male, so that goes along with our history. He's southern, but has appeal in the north. He's a trial lawyer so spin is his game. He's got it all, except he'll forever be linked with everyone's favorite naptime chaperone. However, Kerry/Edwards did muster 50 million votes. None of the favored candidates are working class, yet Edwards's earnings as a lawyer have drawn intense criticism. His wife was criticized for fighting back against the anorexic vampire Ann Coulter. He seems to be this election's Howard Dean-ripe for disposal based on some inane act.
Mitt Romney (13/1): The darling of corporate America, a venture capitalist, former governor and known to me as the Stormin' Mormon. Polls say America won't vote for a Mormon but he sells his religiosity well and emphasizes his one marriage. Most Americans know little about Mormonism, including the belief that the New Jerusalem will be in America. So if Zion is here it's only fitting that Mitt be president. I can't speak for God, but I can observe the actions of corporate America and their support makes him a safe bet to be the Republican nominee.
John McCain (13/1): The old Straight Talk Express looks more like the Party Line Stall these days as he's strapped for cash and dumping staff. The one time front runner has now managed to piss off everyone. The right doesn't like his former self and the left doesn't trust his current self. It's a shame that the man who GWB once tried to blacklist out of the 2000 primaries is now his strongest supporter. He's fallen too far for me to suggest throwing money at his candidacy.
Long shots to consider: Mike Huckabee (51/1) is a social conservative, who believes in government responsibility, yet he runs Arkansas, where the needs of the people trail the Razorbacks and chicken farms. Wesley Clark (101/1) a general with real popular appeal, but whose late entrance in '04 hurt him and now he's waiting again.
You can also bet on which party will win. The Democrats are favored at 1.55/1, while the Republicans are paying 2.35/1. Once again the GOP is paying more.