Betting on politics: US mid-term election markets are increasing

The number of markets available to bet on the outcome of the US mid-term elections is increasing, but liquidity remains a problem.


I've been following the betting on the US mid-term elections over the past few weeks, and I'm pleased to see the number of markets has been increasing. In addition to allowing you to bet on control of both the Senate and the House, as well as the individual Senate seats, Betfair ( is now running markets on the outcome of the race for the governorships of New York, Illinois and Georgia.

While this is pretty good, even this effort pales in comparison with its rival Smarkets (, which is offering markets on all 36 gubernatorial contests (although the market on the Oregon election is currently halted). What's more, it is also offering markets on what it considers to be 50 key Congressional races in states ranging from California to Vermont. Finally, it is offering markets on the range of seats that both the Democrats and Republicans can expect to get.

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Become a smarter, better informed investor with MoneyWeek.

Of course, the big downside to Smarkets' offerings (as well as many of Betfair's) is that many of these markets are very thinly traded. I don't have any hard and fast rule, but I wouldn't normally consider a market to be liquid enough until at least £500 has been traded or £100 is behind a price (both Betfair and Smarkets reveal how much money is behind a specific price). This rule is designed to prevent me making tips that are impossible to follow through on. Sadly, this eliminates most of Smarkets' bets for now. However, with the voting less than two months away, this may yet change.




Trading: catch this coach company

Bus and coach operator National Express has expanded into promising markets abroad – and it looks cheap
28 Jan 2020
Investment strategy

How the fear of death affects our investment processes

Many of our investment decisions are driven by one simple fact: the knowledge that, one day, we will be dead. Here, in an extract from his new book, J…
2 Jan 2020
Stock markets

The good investments of the 2010s – and the bad

John Stepek takes a look back on which investments did well and which did badly in the decade that’s about to come to an end.
26 Dec 2019

Why Wall Street has got the US economy wrong again

The hiring slowdown does not signal recession for the US economy. Growth is just moving down a gear, says Brian Pellegrini.
25 Oct 2019

Most Popular

UK Economy

Britain has a new chancellor – get ready for a major spending splurge

The departure of Sajid Javid as chancellor and the appointment of Rishi Sunak marks a change in the style of our politics. John Stepek explains what's…
14 Feb 2020

Money Minute Friday 14 February: The latest from RBS, Britain's state-owned bank

Today's Money Minute previews results from RBS – Britain’s state-owned bank – and from pharma giant AstraZeneca.
14 Feb 2020

Living on a houseboat: the pros and cons of a floating home

Living on a houseboat sounds romantic and peaceful. But it’s not as straightforward as it looks, says Nicole Garcia Merida
14 Feb 2020

Is 2020 the year for European small-cap stocks?

SPONSORED CONTENT - Ollie Beckett, manager of the TR European Growth Trust, on why he believes European small-cap stocks are performing well.
12 Feb 2019