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Oddsmakers see Biden 'within touching distance' of Trump as coronavirus crisis spirals

Javier E. David
Editor focused on markets and the economy

Joe Biden is riding a string of primary victories that have bolstered his chances among oddsmakers to win the Democratic presidential nomination, who see him “within touching distance” of President Donald Trump as the coronavirus outbreak upends the U.S. landscape.

After a blowout win in South Carolina two weeks ago, Biden’s momentum has carried him to a string of impressive primary contest wins that appear to have neutralized former frontrunner Bernie Sanders — which included Tuesday’s knockout blow in Michigan. A string of shutouts across the South have given Biden a commanding delegate lead over the Vermont Senator.

According to new data from Smarkets, the former vice president’s wins on Tuesday give him a 93% chance to win his party’s nod, with Sanders’ odds dwindling to 2%. Two other predictive markets, Real Clear Politics and Paddy Power, put Biden’s chances at well over 80%.

And while Trump remains favored to win in November by 51%, Smarkets bettors now think Biden has a 45% shot — his best showing on the market.

“It seems that statewide, Democrats are focused on Trump’s ousting as their number one challenge, and they want a nominee that can bring in Republicans as well as Democrats as opposed to a more radical Bernie agenda,” said Sarbjit Bakhshi, Smarkets head of political markets, on Wednesday. 

“This is the first time a Democratic candidate has been this close to the incumbent, and is the highest-traded price we've ever seen for Biden,” Bakhshi added. “Trump’s reelection has seemed inevitable for the last year of trading, this is the first time that an alternative seems possible."

Consequently, the impact from the coronavirus outbreak is undermining the president’s standing among oddsmakers. Paddy Power data shows his chances for reelection have fallen to 55.6%, down from 66.7 a month ago.

In fact, a recent investor survey by Deutsche Bank — taken before the coronavirus panic began roiling markets — showed a whopping 95% of market participants believing that the president would win a second term. Over 60% of those respondents said it was “very likely,” according to the bank.

Yet the pathogen’s rapid spread has made Trump’s hold on re-election more tenuous, while boosting Biden’s chances.

Last week, stocks rallied in the wake of the Super Tuesday’s primary results, underscoring how investors were relieved that Biden appeared to be outflanking Sanders. The former VP’s political epitaph had been all but written by pundits, as he lagged in the polls while the self-described Democratic socialist — touting an aggressive tax-and-spend platform — started to unsettle Wall Street.

—Yahoo Finance’s Chelsea Lombardo contributed to this article.

Javier David is an editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter: @TeflonGeek

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