As America trundles toward primary season and an emotional 2024 presidential election, voters will be heavily invested in the outcome of the race for the White House. National security, civil rights and liberties, the economy, race relations, and American democracy will all be on the ballot next fall, meaning that citizens will need accurate information regarding the major party candidates before selecting someone to occupy the country’s highest elected office.
Bettors will likewise need to monitor campaign developments, public opinion polls, and US presidential election odds markets to determine who has the edge in this polarized political environment. As the world’s oldest electoral democracy hurdles toward another razor-thin plebiscite determined by the peculiarities of the Electoral College, understanding and leveraging market signals for monetary gain will be crucial.
Let's begin by taking a closer look at Joe Biden's presidential election odds and examine the key obstacles that may stand in his path.
Joe Biden fast facts
|Date of birth
|November 20, 1942
|Place of birth
|$10 million USD
|University of Delaware (1961-65); Syracuse University (1965-68)
Odds to win the 2024 US presidential election
|Odds to win 2024 US election at
|Robert Kennedy Jr.
Odds courtesy of bet365 as of February 9, 2024.
Biden is an underdog, but should he be?
I make incumbent President Joe Biden a slight favorite to win re-election to the White House at this stage in the nascent 2024 campaign. Current betting odds list Biden as a small underdog to his 2020 rival and presumptive 2024 Republican Party presidential nominee Donald Trump, although most of these polls are within the margin of error. Poll reporting often refers to this situation colloquially as a "statistical tie," meaning that one cannot dismiss the possibility that the difference in measured support for the two candidates is due to sampling variability, as opposed to meaningful differences in voter preferences. Pre-election season polls are also likely to reflect voters’ hopes and desires regarding the major party nominees. The decision calculus changes once voters are confronted with a head-to-head matchup in the polling booth.
Despite serious political headwinds fueling optimism among rankled progressives that the Democratic Party will move on from Biden in 2024, Democratic political and organizational leaders continue to scuttle this possibility. Speculation that California Governor Gavin Newsome will challenge Biden as the nominee seemingly refuses to die, but Newsome has repeatedly denied any intention of embarking on such a foray. He instructed Democrats to "buck up" and support Biden as recently as September.
The only elected Democrat currently running for the Democratic Party nomination other than Biden is House member Dean Phillips (MN-3), who announced days ago that he would not seek re-election to his seat representing the western Minneapolis suburbs to pursue his longshot White House bid. Accordingly, I find the prospect of Democrats nominating anyone other than Biden as their 2024 standard-bearer quite unlikely, meaning that the implied odds of Biden securing re-election in 2024 are too low. His implied probability of winning is almost 10 percentage points lower than that of Trump, but part of this difference is due to perceptions that Biden may not even win his party’s nomination. Given that I view Biden and Trump as equally highly likely to win their respective party nominations, the odds of each man winning the general election changes. I view Biden as a small favorite in this rematch.
Public perception of Biden has hit an all-time low
Biden is currently hindered by the lowest approval ratings of his administration, as his favorability stands at just 37% in the Gallup poll (three percentage points lower than Trump’s ratings at the same point in The Donald’s term). Biden’s net presidential job approval remains underwater—persistently below 50%—but we need to consider how to incorporate these numbers into election probability estimates.
First, although executive approval remains a significant component of presidential forecasting models, these evaluations may not represent the signal they once did regarding the incumbent candidate’s re-election prospects in a hyper polarized context. Approval ratings are more static today than in previous eras, meaning that accomplishments and failures alike are less likely to lead to shifts in approval now compared to the past.
Second, out-party identifiers almost universally disapprove of the incumbent due to the negative partisanship phenomenon. Consequently, Biden’s approval ceiling is low due to Republicans’ near-universally unfavorable evaluations of his job handling (i.e., 5% or lower approval rating). Although Biden has experienced substantial recent declines in his job approval rating among Democrats, these responses are almost surely short-term expressions of frustration and are unlikely to extend to the polling booth. Biden became just the second Democratic candidate since 1972—joining Obama in 2012—to receive at least 90% of self-identified Democrats’ votes. I see no reason why he will not repeat the feat in 2024 if he is expectedly renominated as the Party’s presidential candidate.
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Main obstacles to Biden remaining president
Biden’s primary obstacle to re-election is omnipresent concern regarding his age. He is already the oldest US president ever at age 81, and he would be 83 at the time of his second inauguration. "Uncle Joe" is the first member of the Silent Generation to serve as president, and skepticism regarding his fitness for service in the country’s most demanding political job abounds. However, the Biden administration and its allies point to the president’s alacrity in policy meetings, press conferences, and grueling overseas trips as evidence of his continued vitality. Additionally, Baby Boomer Donald Trump is no spring chicken at age 77 (he is the second oldest person to serve as president). Nonetheless, the contrasting styles of the two men - Trump’s bombast and whirlwind rally tours versus Biden’s demurer demeanor - leave Biden riper to criticism on this front.
The incumbent also faces economic challenges, especially as opinion polls currently show that voters trust Republicans to handle the economy better than Democrats. Given elevated consumer pessimism despite sustained economic growth and job gains, Biden may be vulnerable on the issue as campaign season commences. Still, gas prices have recently lowered entering the holiday season amid record-high domestic oil production, and inflation has eased following Federal Reserve action. Nonetheless, consumer prices are an issue to observe closely as debates about economic stewardship loom between the major party presidential hopefuls.
Lastly, polls indicate that support for the Democratic Party among racial minorities, particularly Black Americans and Latinos, has dropped. This decline follows small but significant Trump gains among Latinos in 2020. A recent NBC News poll shows that Biden’s support among Black voters has decreased by nearly 20 percentage points this year, from an approval rating of 80% to 61%. Biden was able to defeat Trump in 2020 by consolidating the Democratic coalition of racial minorities, including Asian voters - minor Latino losses notwithstanding- and winning more men and non-college educated white voters relative to Clinton in 2016. A significant loss of support from Black or Latino voters in a close 2024 rematch with Trump could spell electoral trouble for Biden.
Democratic presidential nominee odds
|Robert Kennedy Jr.
Odds courtesy of bet365 as of February 9, 2024.
Biden is a lock to secure the Democratic nomination
Latest Democratic presidential nominee odds represent an implied probability of Biden becoming the Democratic Party presidential nominee around 75%, which I believe is too low given the Democratic Party’s institutional and organizational support for their incumbent president and his policy accomplishments. No major party incumbent has declined to run for re-election since Lyndon Johnson in 1968 - LBJ stood aside amid party factionalism and widespread unpopularity at the height of the Vietnam War - and only three full-time incumbents have lost re-election since 1933 (Jimmy Carter in 1980, George H.W. Bush in 1992 and Donald Trump in 2020).
Biden has already declared his intention to run for re-election, of course, and the Democratic Party understands that ceding the incumbency advantage absent a rockstar replacement would likely be devastating to the Party’s chances of maintaining control of the White House after 2024. Gavin Newsome remains a viable alternative to some within the party, but I view such a challenge as unlikely given Newsome’s repeated assertions to the contrary. No other nationally known figure currently stands in Biden’s path to being re-nominated as the Democrats’ standard-bearer in Chicago.