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Biden's election odds leap following debate: Betting Giant

Sarbjit Bakhshi, Smarkets Head of Political Markets, joins Yahoo Finance's Kristin Myers to break down the latest overseas betting odds in the 2020 race to the White House.

Video Transcript

KRISTIN MYERS: All right. Well, let's talk about last night's debate. There was a lot of insults, arguments, and interruptions that left a lot of Americans, at least according to my Twitter feed, frustrated. And political betters did respond. So to talk through the increasing odds of a Biden presidency, we are joined now by Sarbjit Bakshi, Smarkets' head of political markets.

Sarbjit, thank you so much for joining us today. I'm hoping you can run through the current odds that we have right now. And how do the current odds compare to the odds prior to last night's debate?

SARBJIT BAKHSHI: So last time when I was on, Biden was enjoying an 8% lead over Donald Trump to become the next president of the United States. Since last night, since the morning when the UK woke up, watched the debates live, looked at the highlights, went through all the commentary, that lead has increased by 26%. Joe Biden is now at 63% to become the next president of the United States, whereas Trump is only at 37% to stay president. It's an incredible shift and a big fillip and a big support for Biden in this amazing contest.

KRISTIN MYERS: Now, I know the UK is on a six-hour, five- or six-hour behind us, or ahead of us, you could say, depending on the way that you're looking at it. But I'm wondering if there was a moment when the spread between the two started to accelerate. Was there a moment during the debate that bettors started to say, OK, Biden is definitely getting this in the bag? Or did everyone wait until the debate was over to digest everything that they had heard?

SARBJIT BAKHSHI: The debate happened to take place at an incredibly bad time for the UK. I think all the debates are scheduled for the middle of our night. So it started at 2:00 AM, finished at 4:00 AM. So there were definitely a few people trading that and moving that market out and pushing those prices up for Biden.

But come 8:30, 9:30, 10:30, all throughout this day, all we've seen is Biden's relentless growth in that market, as more and more people find the time to trade on that market and take in what's happening.

The consensus seems to be that although Biden didn't really impress in that performance, what he did do was stand his ground. Donald Trump was clearly trying to rile him, make him seem confused, make him seem old or senile, I think he's tried to make him look. But Biden didn't rise to that bait. He answered calmly. He answered clearly. He clearly was there in that debate, a very clear participant. It wasn't spectacular, but it was enough.

And our markets seem to have just swung behind Biden quite a lot, because I think that that debate was seen as Biden's to lose, rather than Trump's to win, because Trump has incredibly passionate supporters who are going to stick with him no matter what. And the question was, can Biden just hold onto that coalition of people who want to see Trump out of office enough? And from what we're looking at, it seems that this is the case.

KRISTIN MYERS: I want to very quickly ask you to just get into the mind of some of your bettors. They are not American. They are British bettors. And your politics-- just a little bit different than our own. Do you at all think that there might be an overestimation of voter disdain for the kind of acrimony that we saw last night? I don't think I've seen quite such acrimonious conversations between two politicians in British politics, although I know Parliament can get quite tense and rowdy itself.

SARBJIT BAKHSHI: Well, I mean, people in the UK are really interested in US politics. They follow it religiously. They get into it. I know people that are only interested in American politics, not interested in UK politics, despite living here. So it's not something that we have ever seen in a presidential debate. I think this is the first for the world to see something like this televised. It was very, very difficult to watch. As I said, it's hard to see the policy differences with the kind of debate that was happening.

But I think what people have done is, they've taken the PTSD that they've got since 2016 when the polls were out of line, and they put that on to 2020. So Biden, according to the polls, according to our markets, should be winning. I mean, in our Electoral College aggregation market, Biden's at 306 Electoral College votes to Trump's 232, which ironically is what Trump won at in 2016. But still, there is a caution based on what happened previously that's not pushing Biden over that 70% barrier at the moment.

KRISTIN MYERS: All right. Sarbjit Bakhshi, head of political markets at Smarkets. Thanks so much for joining us today.