Betting on politics: Cynthia Nixon for New York

Until last week, November’s gubernatorial election in New York state was considered a foregone conclusion. The incumbent, Andrew Cuomo (son of former governor Mario Cuomo), was supposed to be a shoo-in, and many expected him to run for the White House in 2020.

Enter Cynthia Nixon, an actress best known for her role in the 1990s TV series Sex and the City. She plans to challenge Cuomo in September’s Democratic primary. Nixon has generated quite a buzz, and Ladbrokes is now pricing her at 3/1 (25%) to capture the governor’s mansion in Albany. Cuomo’s price is 1/3 (75%).

The victories of Jesse Ventura in Minnesota and Arnold Schwarzenegger in California prove that it is possible for a celebrity to mount a successful long-shot campaign for governor. But in both cases they were only successful because the incumbent had been severely weakened by a major scandal. Despite one of his former aides being convicted of corruption, Cuomo remains broadly popular in the Empire State, with his approval rating around 52%.

Recent polls underscore Cuomo’s advantage, with one suggesting that he leads Nixon by up to 35%. While Nixon has likened her campaign to that of Democratic outsider Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primary, even that isn’t going to help her very much, given that Hillary Clinton got 58% of the primary vote against him in New York state. Take Ladbrokes’ odds on Cuomo. I’m putting £2 on him myself.