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Will President Trump be impeached or leave office early? Here’s what the prediction markets say.
What are the odds that President Donald Trump faces impeachment?
This question, once seen as a rabid liberal fantasy, has percolated into the realm of relative possibility amid a cacophony of scandals that have bombarded the Trump White House over the past few months.
In mid-November, a group of six Democrats in the House of Representatives introduced articles of impeachment against Trump. The articles accuse Trump of obstruction of justice, violation of the foreign emoluments clause, violation of the domestic emoluments clause, undermining the federal judiciary, and undermining the freedom of the press. Rep. Al Green (D-Tx.) was the first member of Congress to call for Trump’s impeachment and was one of the six House Democrats to introduce the latest articles of impeachment. Even some Republicans, including Rep. Carlos Curbelo—who faces re-election in a blue district in 2018—have entertained the possibility of a Trump impeachment.
A Public Policy Polling survey released in October found that 49 percent of voters supported impeaching Trump, with 41 percent of voters saying they were opposed to the idea. The number increased from 47 percent of people who supported impeaching the president in June.
Calls for Trump’s impeachment—or a simple resignation—increased in August following the president’s widely criticized remarks regarding violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The uproar has sparked headlines declaring Trump a failed president, and the moment marks a new low for Trump. But that doesn’t mean he’ll vacate the Oval Office anytime soon.
While the upheaval over Charlottesville did not take down Trump, the president’s penchant for controversy has reportedly set fellow Republicans on edge. CNN reports that lawmakers, donors, and even members of the Trump White House worry that the president underestimates the desire among Democratic members of Congress to impeach him—a concern that becomes infinitely more pressing if Democrats retake a majority in the House of Representatives in 2018.
Still, let’s be clear: Impeaching Trump remains a distant possibility, and booting him out of office is even less likely. Doing so right now would require the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to bring impeachment against him, and the Republican-controlled Senate to conduct an investigation into allegations against him—and a two-thirds vote in the Senate to find him guilty.
In short, Trump is probably not going to get kicked out of office—especially not before the 2018 midterm elections. Of course, as any American likely remembers, he was probably not going to be president, either. Not only that, but there’s the even less likely—but still lingering—possibility of his cabinet kicking him out by invoking the 25th Amendment.
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- The case against impeaching Trump
Despite the low probability of a Trump impeachment, the chances are rising on political betting markets. Unlike polls, these markets are based on the predictions of people who have real money in the game, which may make them more accurate than any single poll.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of the odds bettors put on Trump either being impeached or leaving office before the end of his term in 2020.
Betfair odds that Trump leaves office early: 53.5 percent
As of Friday, Dec. 1, Betfair puts the odds that Trump leaves the White House before the end of his first term at 53.5 percent—a rise from October where the odds were about even and even higher than mid-August, which had the odds at 46.6 percent.
Trump impeachment odds on Predictit: 40 percent
Predictit, which bills itself as a “stock market for politics,” puts Trump’s odds of being impeached during his first term at 40 percent as of Dec. 1. The numbers came as news of Michael Flynn’s guilty plea of lying to the FBI and cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation broke. The previous high from Predictit was 39 percent on Aug. 7.
Ladbrokes combines the question of Trump being impeached and leaving office early (which are not necessarily the same thing) to give even chances of America having a different president earlier than expected.
Overall, Ladbrokes bettors give Trump a 4.76 percent chance of leaving the White House in 2017, a 28.57 percent chance of leaving in 2018, and about a 52.38 percent chance that he serves two full terms—a massive jump from earlier in the year, when bettors put the chances of a two-term Trump at just 5 percent.
Are Trump impeachment odds correct?
These numbers may seem high—a 50-50 chance Trump leaves office early, really?—and, according to some data experts, they likely are. David Rothschild, an economist with Microsoft Research, tracks Trump’s chances of leaving office early at his site, PredictWise. The site tracks betting markets like Betfair and Predictit to give an aggregate look at the data, which he says is “not great.”
According to Rothschild, Trump’s chances of leaving office before the end of his term are likely much lower than the betting markets’ current prices reveal. “The true probability is lower than their ask price and higher than their bid price; if there is no bid price, than the true probability is between $0 and the ask price,” Rothschild writes.
Still, Rothschild’s numbers show Trump’s chances of remaining in the White House through 2020 falling precipitously in mid-May to their lowest point since he took office on Jan. 20. Over the course of July and the first half of August, they settled in at below 50 percent. As of October, it’s an even split.
In a deep dive “thought experiment” into Trump’s chance of impeachment, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver says any odds of 50 percent or lower are good news for Trump. But if they hit 75 percent, then it’s time to start wondering about the future of America’s commander-in-chief.
Of course, all the numbers above will fluctuate as the Trump presidency progresses, for better or worse. And that’s especially true if Democrats trounce Republicans in the 2018 midterm election. If that happens, the smart money may be a bet against Trump. Of course, that line of thinking has failed before.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
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