Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee for president. No one else is still running. He’s the nominee. It’s him.
So why do people who bet on this stuff say there’s still a chance he won’t make it?
On PredictIt, a betting exchange that specializes in political contests, thousands of gamblers would still give Trump a seven percent chance of flaming out before officially clinching the nomination in Cleveland. The odds are about the same on Betfair, a British competitor. Astoundingly, you can still make money betting Trump will win—$7 for every $100 wagered, a far better rate than your average savings account.
So what do these people know that the rest of America doesn’t?
Plenty has been written on how betting markets sometimes perform better than polls (and certainly pundits) in forecasting elections. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, the wonk of all prediction wonks, admits “markets are tough to beat in most circumstances.” But Trump seems an especially powerful case. As far back as the New Hampshire primary, the markets gave him at least a 40 percent chance of winning, higher than most (mainstream) political commentators would have wagered at the time.
And at times, the markets have had an uncanny understanding of what’s ahead. Trump’s position among bettors hit its nadir in the days before the Wisconsin primary, just as Cruz’s plans to force a contested convention began to build steam. Cruz won the state handily, beating Trump by 13 points. But at the moment of his defeat, as the punditry debated The End of Trump, trading on the betting markets had hiked the billionaire’s chance of winning by three percentage points. His stock steadily rose for the next two weeks, to 59 “percent” on the eve of the New York primary. He hasn’t lost a primary since.