I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to write this article. Previously, I’ve written about political prop bets that covered whether the full slate of presidential debates – or any debates at all – would proceed as scheduled.
Now, one week away from their September 29 head-to-head, it’s confirmed that at least the first meeting is really happening. If either candidate backed out this close to the debate, it would raise red flags with voters that could derail their campaigns.
First Debate Info:
- Date: September 29, 2020
- Time: 9 – 10:30 PM EST (90 minutes)
- Location: Cleveland, Ohio
- Venue: Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic
- Moderator: Chris Wallace
- Topics: The US Supreme Court vacancy, the novel coronavirus pandemic response, the economy, election integrity, protests and violence, and both men’s’ records.
With the presidential debates drawing near, the best political oddsmakers have been getting more creative with their betting lines.
You can still find the usual range of markets dealing with Joe Biden’s participation in each of the three scheduled events – but there are also fun wagers regarding the prospects of an additional debate being added to the schedule, hosted by comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan. Another interesting set of betting lines pertain to how their respective partisan cable news networks will evaluate Trump and Biden’s performances.
On this page, we’ll take a look at the presidential debate props being offered and make some picks and predictions while we’re at it.
Joe Biden’s Debate Participation
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this election cycle is the lack of participation in the race from one of the candidates. Admittedly, these are unconventional times; the novel coronavirus outbreak made traditional hallmarks of a campaign trail — the never-ending town halls, meet-and-greets, and packed rallies — unfeasible.
Still, Joe Biden has even been inaccessible and elusive relative to the current conditions.
There’s a reason no political betting sites are offering odds on whether Donald Trump will participate in the upcoming debates.
Pull up any video clip of the former Vice President being interviewed from last election cycle, and it’s undeniably apparent his ability to communicate has dramatically diminished. I’ve done enough speculating on the possible causes of the decline, but it’s impossible to pretend he’s the same.
Whatever his issue may be, the Biden campaign has done an admirable job limiting Joe’s exposure to the public while employing other Democratic Party loyalists and leaders to pick up the slack on the media circuit. When we see the candidate, he’s reading from a teleprompter or written notes in controlled environments with pre-approved questions.
That’s what makes the presidential debates so interesting.
Joe Biden and Donald Trump will share a stage, live on-the-air, where anything can happen. There’s nothing the Democratic challenger can do to reign in or control how his aggressive, garish opponent will behave or what he’ll say.
Will Joe Biden Participate in the First Debate?
- Can the DNC do whatever they did in April (in the final primary debate versus Bernie Sanders) to sharpen him up for 90 minutes?
- Is there a tactic or rhetorical strategy Biden can employ to stave off Trump’s direct insults and criticisms while simultaneously hiding his inability to engage in witty exchanges?
- Maybe refuse to engage and continually call for a fact-checker?
- Lean on calling the President a liar, under the assumption no one will research the validity of claims made against Joe’s congressional record, for example?
I ask these questions because the Democratic nominee’s showing in this initial debate will determine how his handlers and party strategists approach the remaining dates. They’re committed for the first meeting, that’s why the odds for a “Yes” bet are set at –700.
It’s in the days and weeks following next Tuesday’s action that the real gamesmanship begins.
Will Joe Biden Participate in All Three Debates?
Joe Biden – All 3 Debates?
There’s a decent possibility that September 29 will be the date on which the 2020 presidential election got turned on its head.
Biden’s cognitive abilities will be put to the test for all the world to see. If his decline is as pronounced as it’s appeared – and has been portrayed by GOP super PACs, Trump supporters, and me — at times, the debate could mark a significant turning-point in the race.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think he will be graded on a steep curve by Democrats.
If Biden merely mixes up some names and stats (like saying COVID-19 killed 200 million Americans), forgets the point he’s in the middle of making, and flashes deer-in-the-headlights look a few times, “nothing will fundamentally change” — as the candidate is known to say.
Trump supporters will rant and rave about the gaffes as more proof that Joe’s mentally unfit to lead, but it won’t alter the race. Democrats will blame the mistakes on the former VP’s childhood stutter and the incumbent’s chaotic and unpresidential attacks and argue that based on the “fact-checkers,” Biden won the debate by a mile.
Where it gets interesting is if the debate features any uncomfortable, sad – but ultimately undeniable – examples of cognitive deterioration, shining a bright light on the former Delaware senator’s alleged struggles.
At that point, the Democratic Party has some tough decisions:
- They could address Biden’s health openly and honestly once and for all. If they take that route, the candidate will withdraw from the race, the Democratic National Committee will vote to replace him at the top of the ticket with Kamala Harris, and a new Vice President will be chosen.
Just last week, both Biden and Harris referred to the “Harris-Biden administration” on the same day; one must wonder if conversations have already taken place regarding the California Senator assuming the Democratic nomination.
- Democrats could continue to deny anything is wrong but reinforce the promise that a vote for Biden is less about the candidate himself and more about the team of Obama administration favorites and liberal political superstars who will occupy the White House – plus, “Not Trump!”
They’ll come up with an excuse that, while absurd to an objective observer, will satisfy the DNC loyalists who want to believe. And that will go a long way because the media will parrot the same rationale, and voters who didn’t watch the debate will accept what they’re told.
If they go with option two, it will have enormous repercussions for election betting.
Because even if they can weather the storm of one exposure, the campaign can’t let it happen again. They’ll be forced to cancel or significantly alter the remaining debates while attempting to save face.
I’m guessing they’ll point to the “total number of Trump’s lies” during the debate, as tabulated by fact-checkers for Democratic-friendly outlets like the Washington Post or New York Times.
Then, a range of liberal pundits and elected Democrats will flood the news with quotes about the futility of debating the President because “all he does is lie,” and they don’t want to further platform such mistruths.
The Biden campaign will wait and be the last to agree, citing the former VP’s reluctance to abandon the event, despite the “dishonesty.”
To tie it all up with a bow: Joe will have ultimately decided to take his team’s advice out of concern that some lies, if allowed to spread, represent a threat to public health and safety.
By the way, the second option isn’t entirely predicated on a debate stage gaffe from Joe Biden.
If the first head-to-head so much as improves Donald Trump’s approval ratings or tightens the race in critical battleground states, they’ll take the same approach.
Which is why I cannot fathom all three presidential debates happening as scheduled.
I genuinely believe the plan is to:
- attend the first occurrence,
- show the voters Joe Biden is alive and healthy by playing it safe and minimizing exposure (he won’t engage in detailed arguments; he’ll laugh, shake his head, and tell viewers to wait for fact-checkers),
- then bail on the rest – while making sure to blame Trump for doing so.
Finally, Democrats will agree to go ahead with the Vice-Presidential debate, even offering to let Kamala and Pence extend their schedule to take over the canceled dates.
I am all over betting “No” on Joe Biden participating in all three presidential debates. Even if he keeps it together for all 90 minutes, campaign strategists aren’t going to keep rolling the dice on a potential on-stage meltdown.
At +325, this line is a gift from MyBookie!
Biden in All Three Debates?
Will Joe Biden Participate in the Second Debate?
As far as “Will Joe Biden Participate” bets are concerned, the second debate raises the most intrigue. While I don’t expect the two candidates to ever meet face-to-face on stage again after September 29, I’m not confident there will be a clean break either.
A virtual debate may allow the Biden campaign to avoid the appearance of hiding from the public while mitigating the effects of the candidate’s mental hiccups. Engaging with Trump remotely leaves campaign staffers more wiggle room with regards to offering their candidate assistance.
In recent months, the Democratic challenger has been caught reading from a teleprompter during what were portrayed as unscripted interviews. Campaign officials could have answers prepared for every conceivable situation and topic, which they’d feed to Biden in any number of ways made available by technology.
Whatever the case, the likelihood of the second debate being reformatted rather than canceled is a crucial consideration when taking this bet.
The teleconferencing option allows Joe Biden to kill two birds with one stone:
- he avoids subsequent confrontations with President Trump, while
- saving face and keeping his commitment to engage the opposition in front of voters — only now, with less risk of accidentally sinking his entire candidacy.
While I’m firmly convinced Joe Biden will only appear on a debate stage once between now and November 3, the possibility of switching to an online alternative (likely under threat of outright canceling) is the only reason I’m leaning towards the former Vice President participating in the second iteration.
That said, all of the value is in betting “No.”
This is a highly volatile situation.
When you factor in Biden’s health concerns, how this race has been run thus far (mostly staying in the basement, making the election a referendum on Trump), and calls from party leadership to refuse to debate at all, it’s hard to find the confidence to take –350 odds on “Yes.”
Joe Biden agreeing to a second debate is nowhere near a sure thing.
With so much uncertainty surrounding the candidates and these events, I have to go with “No” for the +225 alone.
Will Joe Biden Participate in the Third Debate?
I must say, I am shocked at the MyBookie oddsmakers’ faith in Biden completing the full three-debate gauntlet over the next several weeks.
Maybe they’ve correctly identified that the debates won’t have much, if any, impact on the election results, so the Democrats won’t bother scheming around the events.
Mail-in voting has already begun in some states; even if Joe suffers an embarrassing performance, a sizable chunk of the electorate will have already cast their ballot. An even larger group doesn’t care what happens on any debate stage; they are voting to get Donald Trump out of office regardless.
I’m not convinced.
Sure, the vast majority of the electorate has already made up their mind, but that’s not who decides elections.
It’s a relatively tiny scattering of people across maybe a dozen swing states that matter. Whoever convinces roughly 100,000 reluctant voters sprinkled throughout Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Arizona, and Nevada to show up reaches 270 Electoral College votes needed to win.
The third debate is scheduled for October 22 – less than two weeks before Election Day.
Team Biden won’t want to risk another “vote for me or you ain’t black” moment when his presidential aspirations rely so heavily upon Black and Hispanic voter turnout.
Of course, the other possibility is Biden’s cognitive decline has been greatly exaggerated – or the campaign has a short-term solution that perks him up long enough to handle multiple debates.
From what I’ve observed this election cycle, that looks less realistic to me than the previously agreed up debate schedule being completed.
At +200 moneyline odds, I love “No” on Biden attending a third debate.
Joe Rogan Debate Props
Just over a week ago, Joe Rogan made headlines when the President agreed to participate in a long-form debate with Joe Biden on the UFC commentator and stand-up comedian’s massively popular Spotify podcast.
It started with Tim Kennedy, a retired MMA fighter and Army Green Beret, tweeting about the possibility following a discussion the two men had on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, asking the public who wanted to see such a debate. Trump retweeted the question, adding only, “I do.”
I do! https://t.co/H9Eghnqpuy
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2020
“First of all, I’d want no one else in the room– just the three of us– and you’d have to stream it live so no one could edit it, and I’d want them in there for four hours,” said Rogan.
The host of the most influential podcast – if not, media platform – invited the two candidates to “come here in Austin, sit down and have a debate.” Rogan added that while he’d “100 percent do it,” he also doesn’t think “Biden can handle it.”
Will Joe Biden Agree to a Forth Debate Moderated by Joe Rogan?
4th Debate w/ Joe Rogan?
- Yes +700
- No -2100
Unfortunately, there is a zero-percent chance that the Biden campaign will agree to a four-hour podcast debate streamed live online.
Liberals have routinely launched dishonest, bad faith attacks on Rogan this election cycle, accusing the comedian of transphobia, racism, sexism, and every other “-ism,” after combing through every hour of decade’s worth of podcasts to find offensive comments. Naturally, the clips and quotes are then isolated to remove all context and the fact that what’s being said are jokes.
It started when Joe endorsed Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primaries. Because the liberal establishment can’t argue based on policies – Rogan is pro-choice, supports same-sex marriage, drug decriminalization, social spending for the poor, and trans rights – they must discredit him as a vile, repulsive monster.
Plus, his podcast viewership dwarfs the reach of traditional media platforms. Those institutions are all too happy to pile on the negative PR campaigns to this new threat to their cultural and political influence.
That the smear campaigns started back up the moment Donald Trump tweeted, “I do,” tells us everything we need to know.
They’d never allow Joe Biden to sit in a room with Rogan and President Trump for four hours without any helpers or editing.
Since they can’t come out and admit the former VP doesn’t have the mental endurance for such an environment, the idea must be shot down along the lines of the podcaster being offensive.
Will Joe Biden Publicly Respond to Joe Rogan’s Debate Offer?
If Biden won’t agree to a fourth debate, moderated by Joe Rogan, will he even mention it? He hasn’t yet, despite widespread discussion around the idea.
I guess that’s why Joe won’t do it.
He needs his media cheerleaders to hold him up!!!
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 15, 2020
I’m still leaning heavily towards “No.”
Biden isn’t asked any questions that aren’t pre-approved. His campaign staffers won’t want this subject floating around a moment longer than it must.
Culturally conservative, economically liberal swing voters will probably decide the winner of the election. These are working-class Americans who share many liberal beliefs but don’t subscribe to the “woke” freakouts and cancel culture.
That’s Joe Rogan’s core audience.
Biden would prefer this story to disappear than give a justification for why it’s not happening – especially if that explanation is forced to include dishonest attacks on the comedian that may alienate voters.
First Presidential Debate Winner
You can also bet on who will be declared the winner of the first debate by cable news networks. As you can see, the lines are incredibly skewed, despite the fact they’re both grading the same event.
This reflects the reality that people who frequently watch these media outlets exist in a bubble that continually reinforces their world view.
The following betting lines highlight everything wrong with US politics.
Which is why I’m giving them precisely the amount of my energy and effort they deserve!
Who Will CNN Say Won the First Debate?
CNN First Debate Winner?
- Donald Trump+500
- Joe Biden-1100
No matter what happens on September 29, CNN will declare Joe Biden the winner.
If he rips all his clothes off, sets his podium on fire, and takes a squat in the middle of the debate stage, they’ll find a way to frame it as a positive for the Democrat.
Who Will Fox News Say Won the First Debate?
Fox News First Debate Winner?
- Donald Trump-600
- Joe Biden+350
No matter what happens on September 29, Fox News will say Donald Trump won.
Their audience doesn’t tune in to hear bad news either.