2020 Election Season Articles

Missing Bumps
August 25, 2020
Historically, the opposition party typically sees a bump in the polls after a favorable VP pick, and during the party convention. We're now several days post Democratic National Convention and it's been more than a week since the Kamala Harris pick, but there hasn't been a discernable bump for Biden in the RCP average betting odds. In fact, Trump's numbers have been steadily improving over the past 30 days. So why are the Biden bumps missing?

no convention kamala bump

The explanation kindest to the Biden campaign is that betting markets had already priced in a Kamala Harris pick, and that COVID driving the conventions online leads to lower viewership, less engagement, and less energy. Scott Adams, the Dilbert cartoonist with an uncanny insight into Trump-era politics, called a Kamala Harris pick for the Dem ticket back in December of 2019. On the other side of the aisle, Politico leaked an article naming Harris as the VP pick on July 28, later chalking it up to a website error (complete with graphics and a congratulatory quote from Biden). There didn't seem to be any widespread whisperings of anyone other than Harris getting the nod. It's probably safe to assume that people betting real money on the election had already priced in Harris as the VP pick.

Even with disabled chatrooms and YouTube comments on convention videos, online viewership appears to be much higher than 2016. Television viewership, however, is down as much as 48% compared to the DNC ratings from four years ago. Don't assume that is a bad thing for Joe Biden. He's the frontrunner in the polls and the betting markets, and, if the numbers are to be believed, then it's his race to lose -- and keeping a low profile is a perfectly valid strategy. A lack of a convention-bump for Biden may end up being fairly meaningless if his 14 point lead in the RCP betting average is real.

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