Betting on politics: A congressional fight in Texas

John Carter © Getty images
Carter: a strong favourite

I’ve covered several Senate contests in the forthcoming US midterm elections, as well as the race to be governor of New York. However, up until now I haven’t looked at any individual congressional contests because most of the markets on individual races have been too illiquid (one of the drawback s of betting exchanges).

However, the fight over the Texas 31st district is heating up. At the moment £3,705 has been traded on Smarkets, which is quoting 1.55 (64.5%) on Republican John Carter, while his opponent Democrat Mary Hegar is at 2.46 (40.6%).

Hegar, an Air Force veteran, is an unconventional candidate, and her campaign has raised significantly more money than Carter. This has led to speculation that she could stand to benefit from a blue wave in favour of Democrats. Interest has been further spiked by a poll at the end of last month putting her only four points behind Carter.

However, a Hegar victory still looks very unlikely for several reasons. This is still a strongly Republican district where Trump beat Clinton by 13%. Carter, who has represented the district for nearly 16 years, is also popular, winning with just under 60% of the vote two years ago.

The polling company that predicted a close contest, ALG Research, is a relatively obscure outfit. More recent polls by more established polling companies have Carter with leads ranging from 15%-21%. Given all these factors, I’d recommend you bet on Carter retaining his seat.