Betting on politics: A two-way fight

The Italian election is this weekend, so we will find out if my predictions from last week about the party with the largest number of seats is correct. But this week we’ll look at the US.

Last year, Republican congressman Tim Murphy resigned after it emerged that he had not only had an affair, but had also paid for his mistress to have an abortion.
On 13 March his successor will be determined by a special election. The contest is really a two-way fight between Republican Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb (pictured).

Ladbrokes put Saccone at 1/2 (66%), Lamb at 6/4 (40%) and the Libertarian at 200/1. Normally, this should be an easy call: the 18th district is in a solidly Republican part of Pennsylvania. Of course, with Trump’s approval rating stuck at around 40%, and with the Democrats comfortably ahead in the generic ballot, these are not normal times, and the best-known forecasters think the contest will be unusually close.

However, I disagree. All six polls that have been conducted since the start of this year have put Saccone ahead of Lamb, with an average lead of more than five points. Trump has also hinted that he will announce a major tariff increase at a campaign rally Saturday week, which is likely to go down well in an area where the manufacturing industry remains relatively important. While an upset is not completely out of the question, I’m sufficiently confident that Saccone will win to recommend that you bet on him.