2020 State of the Union Odds: Betting on President Trump’s Speech

Donald Trump Giving State of the Union Address
The political news cycle since Donald Trump took office in January of 2017 has been a whirlwind, but this week in particular is shaping up to be a doozy on that front. On Monday, both sides made closing arguments to the Senate in Trump’s impeachment trial. Later that day, Iowa held its hilariously disastrous caucuses, and we still haven’t heard the results as of this writing.

Those results should come out at some point on Tuesday, but we’ll see. On Tuesday night, Trump will take centerstage as he delivers his annual State of the Union address. On Wednesday, the Senate will officially vote on whether to remove that very same president from office just under 2 months after the House of Representatives voted to impeach him. The Democrats will have a debate on Friday, and then next Monday we’ll have the New Hampshire Primary.

So, there’s a lot going on. Those interested in the political betting scene have a lot to digest, as well. While Trump is essentially a lock to avoid removal from office on Wednesday, this could still be his last State of the Union speech as his first term in office comes to a close in a little less than a year’s time. Trump’s speeches are unique in plenty of ways, which makes trying to peg what he’ll say something of an adventure from a betting perspective.

Oddsmakers have tried their best, though. BetOnline has a slew of new political prop bets posted surrounding what Trump will say at the lectern on Tuesday night. Let’s dive in and try to identify some value.

Trump’s State of the Union Mentions

Will Trump Refer to Nancy Pelosi as “Nervous Nancy” or “Crazy Nancy”?

  • Yes (+550)
  • No (-1000)

Trump likes to talk down to people, and his weapon of choice is typically Twitter. Trump fires missives from his @realDonaldTrump account all day, every day, and many of them are slams against his political opponents. Along the way, he has come up for nicknames for just about everyone. During the 2016 campaign, we all heard about “Lyin'” Ted Cruz and “Little” Marco Rubio. Then, it was “Crooked” Hillary Clinton. Now, we are constantly hearing about “Sleepy” Joe Biden, “Crazy” Bernie Sanders and “Mini” Mike Bloomberg.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi drew Trump’s ire when she lead his impeachment charge late last year. She hasn’t been exempted from Trump’s witticisms, either. Trump has referred to Pelosi as “Crazy” and “Nervous” multiple times. While Trump’s campaign rally speeches have a way of flying off the rails, one would imagine a more serious setting like the State of the Union will result in Trump giving a more measured speech.

Of course, this is still Donald Trump we’re talking about. When have restraints and political norms ever applied to the 45th president? Trump will likely use some of his time on Tuesday night to try and declare victory and total exoneration despite his impeachment. Pelosi will be sitting right over his left shoulder for the speech, as well. Trump’s speechwriters surely won’t actually put “Crazy” or “Nervous” Nancy in the TelePrompTer, but Trump has been known to go off-script plenty during his time in the spotlight. I wouldn’t mind taking a flier on the “yes” side of this prop, simply because we never know what Trump will say. “Yes” at +550 is good value.

As for the other props, Trump will almost surely rattle off a list of some of his accomplishments during the speech. That’s what the State of the Union is typically about, anyway. It gives the president the platform to brag, and we know this particular president certainly isn’t one to shy away from those kinds of opportunities. Trump has long touted his summits with Kim Jong-Un as progress on the North Korea front, while he has maintained that having a friendly relationship with Vladimir Putin and Russia would be good for the United States on a long-term basis. Here at the odds on other people Trump is going to mention during the State of the Union:

Will Trump Say Kim Jong-Un?

  • Yes (+110)
  • No (-150)

Will Trump Say Vladimir Putin?

  • Yes (+600)
  • No (-1500)

Will Trump Mention the Super Bowl?

  • Yes (+600)
  • No (-1500)

Trump has been derided for his seeming favorability when it comes to Putin, so he would be smart to avoid bringing up the Russian president’s name on Tuesday night. As you can see in the odds, the likelihood that Trump brings up the North Korean Supreme Leader is much greater. I’d definitely be willing to take a shot on “yes” at the +110 odds what we get a Kim mention at the SOTU.

Trump might try to talk about how the Kansas City Chiefs will soon visit him at the White House after winning Super Bowl 54, but I can’t see it. He caught plenty of flack for mistakenly tweeting that the Chiefs play in Kansas on Sunday night, but he’d be smart to try and act like that never happened.

Political Betting Picks:
Yes on a Pelosi Nickname (+550)
Yes on a Kim Jong-Un Mention (+110)

Trump’s Non-Person Mentions

Number of Times Trump Says Iran – (4.5)

  • Over (-120)
  • Under (-120)

Number of Times Trump Says China – (6.5)

  • Over (-120)
  • Under (-120)

Number of Times Trump Says Democrat (3.5)

  • Over (-120)
  • Under (-120)

Number of Times Trump Says Economy – (4.5)

  • Over (-120)
  • Under (-120)

Trump’s speeches are known to last a long time. The State of the Union address almost surely won’t stretch as long as some of his campaign speeches, but you never know. One thing’s for certain, though. Trump will try and make the most of his time as the center of attention.

Iran and China have been in the news quite a bit lately for different reasons. We’re about a month removed from Trump nearly starting a war with Iran, while China is in a state of panic over the spreading coronavirus. China is also looming as the most threatening economic adversary to the US, and the 2 sides have been involved in a “trade war.”

I’m not overly optimistic that Iran or China will be major focal points of the SOTU on Tuesday night. At least 7 mentions of China is an awful lot to ask. While there is plenty of China-related subject matter, I’d steer clear of both of these props.

Trump will also take plenty of time to tout the economy. Many believe that nothing is more helpful to an incumbent president’s chances of reelection than a strong economy. Despite all of the controversies in which he has found himself, Trump does have favorable economical numbers about which to brag. Trump can help his odds of getting reelected by focusing on the economy rather than getting himself dragged into all of the extracurriculars.

Betting the over on 4.5 mentions of the economy looks like the smart play at -120. If nothing else, Trump’s speechwriters will know that hammering the economy would be a wise strategy to take tonight.

I would also expect the over on 3.5 mentions of Democrats. Trump is embarrassed that he got himself impeached, but he certainly won’t take the blame for himself. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he decided to try and lambaste the Democrats for what he thinks was a politically-driven impeachment process, and I wouldn’t put it past him to try and take a jab at the Dems for the disastrous Iowa caucuses, either.

Political Betting Picks:
Under on Iran Mentions (4.5)
Under on China Mentions (6.5)
Over on Mentioning Democracts (3.5)
Over on Mentions of the Economy (4.5)

How Many Lies Will Trump Spout?

Number of Non-Truths – (27.5)

  • Over (-120)
  • Under (-120)

Let’s just say that President Trump has been a little loose with the facts at times during his time in the Oval Office. The Washington Post has actually kept a running count. As of December 16, 2019, Trump had issued a total of 15,413 false claims or lies over the course of 1.055 days in office. The paper said that Trump lied 1,999 times in 2017, 5,689 times in 2018 and 7,725 in 2019 up to that aforementioned date. That’s an average of 14.6 lies per day!

As you may expect, some of Trump’s prospective opponents in the 2020 presidential race like to point out the president’s willingness to stretch the truth. On Sunday, after Trump made fun of Mike Bloomberg’s height, Bloomberg’s campaign spokesperson told CNN, “The president is lying. He is a pathological liar who lies about everything: his fake hair, his obesity, and his spray-on tan.” Shots fired!

Being called out on spouting all those mistruths hasn’t affected Trump’s strategy. He’s been lying this whole time, so why would anyone expect him to stop now? The over/under of 27.5 non-truths expected for the SOTU trumps (no pun intended) Trump’s daily average of 14.6, but I still think it might be a little on the conservative side.

Political Betting Pick:
Over on Number of Non-Truths Trump Will Say (27.5)

Designated Survivor Odds

There will be an awful lot of powerful people all congregated in one place to listen to the president on Tuesday night. Fortunately, the US government has plans in place in case something incredibly disastrous takes place. While most of Trump’s staff and cabinet members will be in attendance, there will be one member safely situated outside of the chamber in case tragedy strikes. This person is called the Designated Survivor. Former energy secretary Rick Perry was the Designated Survivor for last year’s State of the Union. 2 years ago, it was Sonny Perdue, the secretary of agriculture.

Designated Survivor Odds
Ben Carson +500
Betsy DeVos +550
Alex Alzar +600
Wilbur Ross +600
Dan Brouillette +900
Robert Wilkie +900
Chad Wolf +1000
Eugene Scalia +1000
Chuck Grassley +1200
Dave Bernhardt +1200
Sonny Perdue +1500
Steve Mnuchin +1500
William Barr +1500
Mark Esper +1800
Mike Pompeo +2000
Mike Pence +2500
Nancy Pelosi +2500

Here’s hoping Wilbur Ross isn’t the choice. No offense, but this man is 82 years old, going on 210. Ben Carson is one of the few members of Trump’s cabinet that has been here from the start. The vast majority of the people that started 2017 in Trump’s orbit have come and gone. Perhaps Carson’s loyalty will be rewarded, and he’ll get the Designated Survivor tag for Tuesday night. At +500, you can certainly do worse.

Politcal Betting Pick:
Ben Carson Becoming the Designated Survivor (+500)