According to many published reports, Bernie Sanders has put his hopes of winning the Democratic Presidential nomination on the outcome of Tuesday’s Michigan primary. Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in 2016 overcoming a double digit polling deficit. That result said as much about Hillary as it did about Bernie, however, and served as a harbinger of the dramatic events of election night that resulted in Donald Trump winning the Presidency.
Sanders has gone ‘all in’ on Michigan but it doesn’t look good for the Vermont Senator. Michigan does have 125 pledged delegates and he’s played up his anti-business and anti-trade agenda to pander to the states shrinking base of auto industry workers. Biden had planned to travel to Mississippi late last week but scrapped those plans to continue campaigning in Michigan. Michigan might be Sanders’ best bet from among the six states holding primaries today: Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington.
If Michigan is Sanders’ ‘best bet’ his campaign could be in serious trouble. Some polls are showing Biden with a 15% to 20% lead over Sanders. Many Michigan political observers are suggesting that a ‘miracle victory’ such as the won over Hillary Clinton in 2016 is probably not in the offing this year. Sanders was the beneficiary of a strong anti-Clinton stance in the state. Biden has also received some bigtime endorsements over the past week including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, former Gov. Jennifer Granholm and former Sen. Carl Levin. Michigan labor unions have not formally endorsed Sanders despite the candidate’s attempt to pander to them at every turn. The thinking is that their top priority is beating Trump and they’ll end up working with the Democratic candidate who has the best chance of doing that.
If the polling data looks bad for Bernie the odds to win the Michigan Primary looks even worse. In Europe, Biden is priced from +1600 all the way up to +4000 with most prices in excess of +3000. These prices imply probabilities from 94.1% at -1600 to 97.6% at +4000. The US based prediction market PredictIt is showing similar numbers. Their Michigan Primary market has Biden priced at 94 cents to win with 1.3 million shares traded. Another PredictIt market is on the margin of victory in Michigan where 10% or higher is priced at 84 cents. There’s a chance that Biden goes 6 for 6 in Tuesday’s primaries. Washington State might be Sanders’ best chance of winning but even there Biden is a -225 choice to win (69.4% implied probability) at the big European books. At PredictIt, Biden is priced at 67 cents to win.
For the nomination, Biden is -1000 at virtually all major books in the UK representing an implied probability of 90.9%. At PredictIt, a Biden nomination is priced at 87 cents based on 119.6 million shares traded. Assuming that Biden has another big day today the question becomes if and when Sanders would withdraw. At this point, he’s clearly grasping at straws but as long as he has other people’s money to spend he might possibly continue to campaign.