The 2024 US presidential election is primed to be just as closely contested as the previous two plebiscites involving ultra-polarizing businessman and television personality Donald Trump, whose likely presence at the top of the Republican Party ticket looms large over every aspect of the competition. Trump’s presence injects the proceedings with a distinctively extremist brand of bravado and rhetoric that ensures an emotionally fraught, tireless campaign with concomitant media coverage.
Given the passion that the election is sure to incite in voters of all political persuasions, bettors will need to be more careful than ever to check their partisan and ideological biases at the market doorstop and let cooler heads prevail. Relying on a combination of current polls and US presidential election odds will offer the best opportunity to profit on this uncertain race.
Let's take a closer look at Trump's presidential election odds and examine the key obstacles that may stand in his path.
Donald Trump fast facts
|Date of birth||June 14, 1946|
|Place of birth||New York City, NY|
|Political affiliation||Republican Party|
|Net worth||$2.5 billion USD|
|Education||New York Military Academy (1959-1964); Fordham University (1964-66); Wharton School (1966-68)|
|Spouse||Melania Trump (2005-present)|
Odds to win the 2024 US presidential election
|Candidate||Odds to win 2024 US election at||Implied probability|
|Robert Kennedy Jr.||+1,800||5.26%|
Odds courtesy of bet365 as of November 27, 2023.
Trump is looking to make history
I currently make Trump as a slight underdog to become just the second person in American history to serve two non-consecutive presidential terms. Grover Cleveland was elected as the 22nd president in 1884, lost narrowly in 1888, and recaptured the White House in 1892. Interestingly, Cleveland won the national popular vote in all three of those elections, whereas Trump has yet to win the popular vote. Although most national polls and polls of key battleground states continue to show Trump slightly ahead of President Joe Biden in a hypothetical head-to-head contest, the vast majority of these polls are within the margin of error.
Additionally, sentiments can and do change when a one-on-one matchup emerges (i.e. if and when Trump and Biden win their respective party nominations). Moreover, individual polls may for many reasons overstate particular candidate support. For example, a recent Marquette University Law School poll showed former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley leading Biden by 10 percentage points, a margin higher than that separating either Trump or Ron DeSantis and Biden. This result differs considerably from other polls, and in any event is unlikely to be relevant because Trump continues to trounce his GOP primary opponents. Hypothetical matchups are more instructive than candidate approval ratings in a polarized environment, but again, the former do not necessarily predict the result of a two-person electoral contest nearly 12 months away.
Given my belief that Democrats are unlikely to jettison Biden as their standard-bearer just two months from the start of primary season and a year from the general election, especially given the paucity of candidates eliciting enthusiasm from the Party’s activists, Biden’s odds of +200 remain slightly too low relative to Trump’s current odds of +137. In other words, I view both candidates as likely nominees and essentially even competitors. Biden is now the incumbent after narrowly defeating Trump once, and Democrats have continued to overperform expectations in regular and special elections.
Obstacles remain in Trump's path
The primary obstacle to Donald Trump again becoming US president is easily himself. He is generally disliked among the electorate, and his toxic, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic rhetoric—coupled with an unparalleled penchant for pathological lying—quite simply repels most Americans. Indeed, Trump’s embrace of the hardest right-wing culture war policy positions since 2016 have accelerated the GOP’s demise among high-turnout, college-educated voters (once their core voting base), including suburban voters.
Indeed, these voters’ defection represents one theory explaining why Democrats outpaced electoral expectations in the 2022 midterms - when polling and market predictions of a "red wave" fizzled - and in special elections during and after Trump’s term. Moreover, Biden successfully wooed a higher percentage of older, so-called "working class" white voters - those without a college degree - in 2020 relative to Clinton in 2016. Consolidating Democratic support among racial minorities (despite some Trump gains among Latinos) and trimming Trump’s advantage among suburbanites and non-college educated whites all helped to reverse the Democrats’ narrow losses in the pivotal states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in 2020.
Trump’s well-documented legal woes present another potential problem, as his indictments could become felony convictions at some point during the 2024 campaign. I do not envision any of the court cases preventing Trump from running for high office (some believe that ongoing litigation is more likely to motivate Trump to run given that occupying the White House might shield him from punishment; the Department of Justice has seemed to subscribe to the theory that a sitting president is immune from criminal prosecution, although the Supreme Court has never held this position). Nevertheless, the sheer volume and diversity of the criminal and civil litigation in which he is entangled may further wear on Trump’s favorability once the mass public becomes more attuned to the presidential alternatives.
Covers US presidential election betting tools
2024 Republican nominee odds
It may seem hard to believe given his mounting legal challenges, but Trump is the overwhelming favorite to earn his party's nomination.
|Nomination Winner||Implied probability|
|Francis X. Suarez||+10,000||0.99%|
Odds courtesy of bet365 as of November 27, 2023.
Trump remains far more popular than DeSantis and Haley
According to the latest Republican party nominee odds at bet365, the implied probability of Trump capturing the Republican Party nomination for the third straight election is 83.3%. That number squares with current public opinion polling nationwide and in the early caucus and primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Despite all of the personal and political headwinds against Trump, he remains 30-40 percentage points ahead of his rivals.
Trump's singularly charismatic persona and grievance rhetoric continues to resonate uniquely with the GOP voter base, many of whom either support his false claim to have been robbed of the 2020 election or are unperturbed by it. Indeed, an August AP-NORC public opinion poll found that just 16% of Republicans supported the criminal charges filed against Trump in Georgia regarding his efforts to overturn the 2020 election in the Peach State. Trump maintains an impeccable favorability of over 75% among Republicans, dwarfing that of his main challengers for the GOP nomination (DeSantis and Haley).
If Trump sincerely desires to be the Republican nominee for president, and all indications are that he does, then the Party’s primary electorate seems unlikely at the moment to prevent that outcome.