Former Indiana Governor Mike Pence Off The GOP Ticket? Bettors Weigh In

Speculation that President Trump will replace VP Pence with former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has generated some betting interest.
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Could Hoosiers soon see their former governor off the 2020 ballot?

Right now, Donald Trump is possibly trailing Joe Biden among female voters by some 30 points. Biden already committed to a woman as his running mate, though some still see chances for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Regardless of how high Cuomo’s perceived stock rises, a reversal on this promise could be devastating to Biden’s campaign. He’s not selecting a man to potentially be the next vice president.

Betting markets agree, with no male anywhere near the top of the list.

Earlier this spring, there was punditry claiming that Trump would one-up Biden on the VP front by ditching Mike Pence for former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, an immensely popular conservative who many think could be the GOP’s candidate in 2024. Haley, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under the Trump Administration, has long been positioning herself for the White House.

Anecdotally, it appears some Democratic voters could cross the party line and cast a ballot for her.

Gangsta politics?

There has long been reporting on the possible souring of Trump and Pence’s relationship. In early March, as the COVID-19 pandemic was starting to show its ugly fangs in the U.S., the speculation started to pick up some steam once again. This time it was framed around the 2020 election.

“They’re gangster,” political commentator Meghan McCain said on The View on March 13, when talking about Trump’s political playbook and the possibility of Pence falling off the ticket. Certainly replacing Pence is within Trump’s capacity as a cutthroat political strategist.

Full quote: “I still think, though, that if [Biden] chooses a woman, then Trump is going to kick Pence out and put in Nikki Haley,” McCain said. “Because I think they’ll go toe-for-toe and they’re going to be like, ‘You want to identity politics me? I’ll identity politics you.’ And I just … think they’re gangster.”

A couple of days later, Biden publicly committed to a woman for VP.

The Pence-Haley hypothesis even reached the likes of talk show host Jimmy Fallon, who floated it during an interview with former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Speculation wanes

Haley’s public championing of Trump has continued throughout the crisis, though the conjecture that she could replace Pence on the ticket has disappeared in recent weeks as the public health crisis has deepened and Pence has looked steady during the near daily White House press briefings. If he’s Trump’s guy to “throw under the bus,” as CNN political analyst Paul Begala put it, it’s a ways off. Trump has blasted China and the World Health Organization, with some indirect criticism of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Alex Azar, the secretary of Health and Human Services.

Pence’s days do not appear to be numbered.

Part of the pro-Haley argument during the early stages of the public health crisis was based on the notion that by putting Pence in charge of the coronavirus “task force” Trump would have opportunity to place blame on Pence, providing justification for shaking things up with Haley. Many gamblers on PredictIt, which has a Commodity Futures Trading Commission exemption that allows it to offer relatively low-stakes wagering on politics and current events, bought into the idea in the first half of March.

Below is the graph of the “yes” price over the past 90 days for the question: “Will Mike Pence be the 2020 Republican nominee for vice president?”

PredictIt

Trump, by all accounts an epic news junkie, especially when it’s about himself, unsurprisingly caught wind of the rumors and addressed the speculation during a town hall in Pennsylvania in early March. He said that replacing Pence would be a “great act of disloyalty.”

That could obviously change over the next several months, as Trump probably has until late summer to put Haley on the ticket, but it’s becoming increasingly unlikely — if it ever had reasonable chances in the first place. Consistently shaking up his administration has been a pillar of Trump’s playbook since taking office, but replacing Pence amid the pandemic is a long shot. Some PredictIt bettors apparently see the market on Pence remaining the VP pick as a safe place to park some money while waiting for other things to wager on.

That said, Trump is unpredictable and there’s always a case for betting on chaotic political developments.

Image credit: Mark Reinstein / Shutterstock.com

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