Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA)
Want proof the 2016 presidential race is basically chaos at this point?
For a moment in Sunday night's presidential debate, the odds at one political betting market that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence would leave the Republican ticket briefly topped 50 percent.
During his debate with Hillary Clinton, Republican nominee Donald Trump was asked about difference in Syria policy between himself and his running mate. Last week, Pence advocated using U.S. military force to create humanitarian safe zones in Syria, and even intervening directly in the country's bloody civil war to stop Syrian President Bashar al Assad from committing war crimes. However, Trump has long pushed for a U.S. foreign policy that doesn't intervene in foreign conflicts—even in explicit acts of open genocide.
Trump responded to the debate question by throwing Pence under the proverbial bus. “He and I haven’t spoken and I disagree,” Trump said.
For political junkies looking to the play the odds on the outcome of the November election, Trump's statement that he hasn't discussed one of the most important foreign policy questions of 2016 with his running mate—a position reportedly offered under the premise that a Trump administration would concede all foreign and domestic policy-making to the vice president—was tradable information.
PredictIt is an online betting market allowing gamblers to bet on the outcome of various future events, many of them political. Users can bet on the answer to questions like “Who will win the 2016 U.S. presidential election?” and “Will Scotland move toward independence in 2016?”
One of the questions PredictIt users can bet on is whether Pence will leave the ticket before Oct. 31. At the start of the debate, shares for Pence dropping out where trading at $0.24, meaning the market put the odds of Pence dropping out of the race at 24 percent. The odds were that high largely due to Pence's decision to pull out of a campaign event with Trump over the weekend following the release of an 11-year-old tape showing the former reality TV star bragging about how his wealth and fame allowed him to commit sexual assault with impunity.
Moments after Trump's comments about his break with Pence regarding Syria, the market for Pence dropping out went crazy. In the span of a few minutes, shares jumped to over $0.60—indicating the collective wisdom of the market was that the prospect of a Pence vice presidency wouldn't even make it to Election Day.Even so, Pence reaffirmed his support for a Trump-led ticket following the debate's conclusion and the market's prediction of a Pence dropout sunk back to the low double digits by Monday morning.
However, that degree of volatility shows just how uncertain everything in the 2016 presidential race is at the moment. People are ready to believe that just about anything can happen, all it takes is an ill-considered comment from a candidate with a long history of speaking off the cuff.