A warning for Democrats

Just a year before the next election, polls show that roughly half of voters believe that Trump should be impeached and removed from office.

That should be great news for Democrats, right? Even if he survives impeachment (which seems likely), the polls show that he’s quite unpopular. Unfortunately, betting markets show that if Trump gets the nomination then he is likely to be re-elected.

This is not because Trump is popular; rather the betting markets anticipate that the Dems will pick an extremely weak candidate, someone like Elizabeth Warren. If Democratic voters had the best interest of the country at heart then they’d pick someone who would be electable. I fear they have other goals in mind.

BTW, this caught my eye:

In August, President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., flew to Jakarta to help kick-start sales at a pair of Trump-branded luxury resorts planned for Indonesia. He appeared at a private event with wealthy prospective buyers and joined his politically connected billionaire Indonesian business partner at a news conference.

And last year, Donald Jr. visited India to sell condos at future Trump-branded towers, appearing at an event that also featured India’s prime minister. . . .

When the Trump Organization tangled with the majority owner of a property in Panama, for example, its local lawyers at one point called on the Panamanian president for an assist.

In Indonesia, the government is helping to build a major new highway that will make a new Trump development more accessible.

Yes, Indian Prime Ministers normally show up at condo sales events. Of course we know from the Ukraine phone call that foreign leaders are not at all willing to kowtow to Trump and assist his business interests, right? So what does Donald Trump Jr. think of all this?

“At the VERY LEAST, there’s the appearance of impropriety,” Donald Trump Jr. wrote on Twitter. “A clear conflict of interest.”

Oh wait, that comment was referring to Hunter Biden’s business dealings. Sorry.

It seems that in the Trump family the apple does not fall far from the tree.



23 Responses to “A warning for Democrats”

  1. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    13. October 2019 at 11:32

    The betting markets are wrong; not sure why you’re even bothering with them, Sumner. Use your gut.

  2. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    13. October 2019 at 11:39


    Something Republican strategist Mike Murphy said seems plausible to me. He said Biden is the safer choice, with Warren having more potential upside and downside.

    With regard to the motives of Democratic voters, I think it’s very unfair to suggest many of them aren’t putting the interests of the country first. Many Democrats don’t trust their own party leadership morally, or politically. Many think Biden will be a poor candidate for a host of reasons, not least of which is the fact he’s so establishment in an era of great discontent with that establishment.

    Also, the far left has been frustrated for decades with a lack of big progressive programs which they think are not only morally necessary, but extraordinarily politically popular. Many have long wanted to deliver FDR’s Four Freedoms.

    They’re also sick to death of Democratic weak knees when facing Republicans. Many blame Democratic leadership cowardice for the rise of the far right.

    So, they just have very different ideas about what’s best for the country, and I happen to think they’re mostly correct.

  3. Gravatar of Joel Joel
    13. October 2019 at 12:22

    I tend to agree with Mike’s comment. Biden is a very safe choice for Dems, but I’m not convinced that makes him the best choice. In many ways Warren is much more poised than Biden, and she’s certainly smarter. Biden has a long history of sticking his foot in his mouth too, and that was pretty clear even in some of his latest comments. I suspect that Trump’s usual lines of attack will come off to general voters pretty badly against Warren in the general election — though that definitely remains to be seen.

    It also seems to me ‘electability’ is a bad way to go about assessing or talking about candidates, as it seems to track more closely with current public support at the moment — or just a vague ‘I don’t think people will go for that person’ than anything else. Excluding 2012 the winners in recent presidential elections have been people who weren’t considered “electable” — a little heard of, one term, black senator from Illinois, and an egotistical narcissist dealing in conspiracy theories who was a household name due to reality tv. Neither fits any common sense talk of electability. There’s also the Sanders’ campaign in ’16 which fits the common sense electability talk poorly too. Better to just dispense with the notion altogether.

  4. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    13. October 2019 at 13:21

    If re-nominated, The Donald will likely be re-elected because the economy is doing well and there is no new war. Incumbent Presidents are hard to beat when those conditions apply.

    If The Donald is impeached and removed from office, President Pence will likely be elected because because the economy is doing well and there is no new war. Incumbent Presidents are hard to beat when those conditions apply. After all, Jimmy Carter barely beat Gerald Ford in 1976, in a much more difficult situation for the incumbent.

    I am not convinced that who the Democrats nominates makes much difference except the size of the incumbent victory.

    If the economy does badly, or there is a new war, all bets are off, however.

  5. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    13. October 2019 at 13:27

    Guys, do you really trust Biden’s brain not to fall out?

  6. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    13. October 2019 at 13:31

    If one wonders by US political debate is like it is, the keenness of much of the mainstream media to enforce group think, particularly regarding candidates for nomination, is surely a factor.

  7. Gravatar of bill bill
    13. October 2019 at 13:35

    Biden’s ineffective response to Trump’s allegations give me real pause about his abilities to carry on a good campaign (even if his brain doesn’t fall out. Lol). Keep in mind that the betting markets giving Trump the edge in the general election are giving Biden the edge in the Dem primary. ie, how much of optimism for Trump is based on the assumption that he’ll be facing Biden? Are there any betting markets that clearly show the conditional probabilities of Trump v Biden and Trump v Warren separately?

  8. Gravatar of Oscar Cunningham Oscar Cunningham
    13. October 2019 at 13:54

    By my calculations Warren has a 51.8% conditional probability of winning given nomination. That’s less than Biden (55.4%) or Trump (52.8%), but there’s not much in it. So I don’t think Biden vs Warren is very important.

  9. Gravatar of kav kav
    13. October 2019 at 14:24

    Why not just look at the odds of Dems taking the throne in 2020 directly?


    it’s been between 50% and 55% for the last month, going up.

  10. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    13. October 2019 at 15:56


    Trump has always been under water approval-wise and the intensity of the disapproval may be at a record high. Also, demographics in states like Texas, Florida, and Georgia continue to slowly move against him. Often, polls show Trump trailing in Texas behind potential Democratic nominees.

    And actually, even if Trump does win again, I think it’ll be worse for his issues in the long run. I think we’ll see a record liberal resurgence after 4 more years of lies, criminal behavior, and failure.

    It took roughly 6 years for most Americans to realize W was a terrible President. The American people aren’t very bright, but even they learn, eventually.

  11. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    13. October 2019 at 16:00

    I should point out, by the way, that while I think Sanders and Warren are full of terrible ideas, the general thrust of wanting to provide more universal economic security to citizens is one I certainly support. It’s like to see progressive consumption taxes fund a generous negative income tax, for one thing.

  12. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    13. October 2019 at 16:31

    Mike, Why doesn’t she just come out and admit she wants a massive tax increase on the middle class? Do you think she’ll be able to keep that secret against the GOP attack machine?

    Lorenzo, Gabbard? Don’t you think she needs to figure out what she thinks of Assad before she can be taken seriously?

    Harding, Of course Biden is dumb, but no where near as dumb as the guy currently in the White House.

    Bill, No. Warren is heavily favored in the Democratic primary.

    Oscar, I’m interested in who can beat Trump.

    Kav, Because that’s not the question that interests me.

  13. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    13. October 2019 at 17:21


    Warren will have to admit she wants a large tax increase, which will have to be imposed primarily on the middle class. However, it can be framed in a way that is a win for her.

    My guess is she’ll go the Sanders route and claim that the tax increases will be more than offset by savings under Medicare for All. She can talk about the lower administrative costs versus private health plans, and can promise to push to negotiate lower drug prices, etc. I don’t know why she hasn’t address this already. Perhaps her economic advisors have told her Medicare for All won’t save money on net.

    By the way, if you haven’t visited her website, don’t do so if you value your mood. It’s full of many more bad ideas than I would have guessed. I think it likely, and will have to hope, that if I vote for her, most of her agenda doesn’t get through Congress.

  14. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    13. October 2019 at 20:23

    Sumner, Biden may be dumber. He proposed abandoning the Kurds to the Turks long before Trump did. He thought China had the same economic impact on the U.S. as the Netherlands in 2000 (wrong even at the time). His brain is also deteriorating at a rapid pace, while the other candidates’ are staying the same.

    Don’t you think she needs to figure out what she thinks of Assad before she can be taken seriously?

    Assad is by far the most intelligent and correct person in this whole war. He pointed out how the opposition were terrorists long before this became apparent to the West. He also correctly predicted the Kurds would be stabbed in the back. The “Assad curse” has gripped all who opposed him. Gabbard’s troubles aren’t in Syria, they’re in Ukraine. At this point, it is clear she is not a viable candidate and that serious anti-imperialists should support Sanders.

  15. Gravatar of Justin Justin
    14. October 2019 at 07:14

    The Dem field strikes me as inexplicably weak. This is the best they can do? Some mechanism, emergent or directed, is keeping talent away. I thought Harris was initially formidable, but she turned out to be low-energy, it was hers to lose and she just didn’t seem to want it. Sad!

    I’d probably vote for Gabbard if she somehow navigated through the rigged process and won, but that ain’t gonna happen. The rest are too radical, too old, too old and crooked, or have an uncanny serial killer vibe. Why doesn’t Howard Dean run again? That’s the sort of candidate they should be running. Progressive but not too progressive, highly intelligent, connected but not obviously crooked.

  16. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    14. October 2019 at 09:03

    I agree with the betting markets. If (pigs had wings they would fly) Trump could just tone it down he would be like Nixon in ’72(maybe literally).The standard answer is often right. The reason the Dems candidates are so lame is they assume they will lose–so no one bright shows up. The last time the Dem Party believed that Clinton arose from nowhere. This time it is just the kooks or the otherwise available.

  17. Gravatar of bill bill
    14. October 2019 at 10:02

    Wow, it’s true, Warren is like a 3 to 1 favorite in the betting markets. I just assumed (incorrectly) that Biden would be leading there since he is ahead in most of the polls for the D primary. Why do you think the betting markets give him such low odds given that he is leading in the polls? My pretty uneducated (and biased?) guess is that Biden has done poorly in past primaries. And being 78 can’t help. He’d be 87 at the end of a second term.

  18. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    14. October 2019 at 11:23


    I actually don’t think being 87 at the end of his second term impacts anything (but the way you phrase it, it sure seems like it should!). The polls at this stage are lagging indicators. The majority are not paying that close attention—although the engaged are (i.e., the type who bet on these things). There is no way around it, Biden really is a very poor campaigner at this stage of his life—frankly it is a little bit sad—so the betting pros believe as more see him more closely, they will back off.

    Warren, as much as I disagree with her, really is the most energetic and intellectually quick among the Dems—plus as Biden’s poll numbers have stayed flat—-hers have gained. I am not sure there is a third place person at this point—which is why Hillary tossed out a trial balloon—-but that won’t happen—and if it did Warren would benefit.

  19. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    14. October 2019 at 11:59

    It does matter who the candidates are——but not as much as people think. Or, it matters a great deal but impacts at most 3% of voters in 5-8 states. The last 5 presidential elections (2000-2016)— look at the vote %

    48.4%,48.3%,52.9%,50.9%,48.1% DEMS
    47.9%,50.7%,45.7%,47.1%,46.1% GOP

    Notice only Bush in 2004 was as high as any of the DEM candidates—and only 2 of them. Because cities vote overwhelming for DEMs and (more than Rural prefer GOP–which they do.)

    People often use these figures as evidence that the electoral college system is antiquated. Putting aside that we are constitutionally a Republic (quite a thing to put aside), and not a democracy, these voting patterns would very likely change if we became a democracy—-and if I were a Democrat I would keep it just the way we are. The GOP does not spend any time in the cities. They would need only to Flood 5-10 cities to gain an extra 3-5% of their vote—still lose by a lot in those cities but enough to be far more competitive in the national vote.

    This is why the Dems don’t win every election—–they ignore the electoral college and lean more left than is beneficial to get the city vote. This year, the candidates they have put up seem like a wish to lose—-but who knows? We have Mean Mr Mustard–the most loathed guy ever—and he probably will win.

  20. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    14. October 2019 at 12:17


    Couple things: Biden’s support is strongest from older, less educated, and minority Democrats, and they don’t use betting markets, so there might be some skew there. Same with the media, media types probably lean Warren/Sanders so they subtly shade Biden.

    Also, Biden has already declared that if he does win, he will step down after one term (for that reason, age).

  21. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    14. October 2019 at 12:22


    The Dem field is weak for the same reason the Rep one was last time, no one sane would ever want to put themselves through the dog and pony show it takes to get the job, and then once you have it it’s non-stop stress and hatred from half the country. The best people have no interest in running.

  22. Gravatar of Dagon Dagon
    14. October 2019 at 13:45

    > they’d pick someone who would be electable.

    Warren and Biden seem to be the only two serious contenders for this. Is this your way of saying Biden is significantly more attractive to median and swing voters than Warren? Or just “I wish there were better Democrats to support?”

  23. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    14. October 2019 at 14:12

    Bill, Another example of why markets can be more predictive than models. (Compare Phillips curve forecasts of inflation with market forecasts.)

    Dagon, Both.

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