The Bulwark Presents
The Triad by JVL

The Smart Money Is on Val Demings

The congresswoman / grandmother / former police chief is the best bet—literally—for Biden's VP.
June 17, 2020
Featured Image
Rep. Val Demings (Shawn Thew - Pool/Getty Images / Shutterstock)

I’m going to do something I’ve never done here before and probably won’t do again. So bear with me.

I got a long—crazy long—email from a reader about Biden’s VP choice.

This reader is a professional gambler who bets on political outcomes for a living.

He does not want his name revealed.

So we’re just going to call him code-name “Domer.”

Anyway, Domer wrote for me a giant piece explaining why he thinks the literal smart money—meaning, sharp players making cash wagers—should be on Val Demings as Biden’s VP.

And the entire thing is so smart and interesting that I’m going to give the newsletter over to him so he can explain his thinking.

Ladies and gentlemen, good luck. Here’s Domer:


Joe Biden is likely to select Kamala Harris, a Senator from California, as his running mate about six weeks from now. Bettors arebetting on Harris. Pundits arepredicting Harris. Reporters arereporting Harris in the lead. And Kamala’s personal connection to Joe ispreviewing a possible ticket. But that could be a mistake and, in my estimation, an unforced error at a key inflection point for the campaign.

I’m betting, literally, that when the vetting narrows down the choices—when the pros and cons of all of the candidates they’ve interviewed are white boarded and chewed over and argued about in the context of what this race is really about—that a little known member of Congress, Val Demings, comes out on top.

Will this actually happen? Probably not! But it might happen, and bettors are starting to figure that out—the odds on Demings have shortened from 50-1 to 5-1 in the past few weeks. I hope to walk you through the process of trying to find and predict an unlikely outcome. An outcome that could provide a windfall profit, if my instincts are correct.

As a brief introduction, I bet on politics (mostly), and have been betting as my sole occupation since I put in my two-weeks notice in 2007.

In 2020 political alignment parlance, I’m a college-educated, “Never Trumper” Republican who has been realigned from a certain straight-down-the-ballot R voter to a certain, if unenthusiastic, Joe Biden voter. I primarily use a website called PredictIt (and before that, the now-defunct Intrade). PredictIt is a peer-to-peer exchange that allows users to bet legally with one another on all manner of political forecasts; the most popular of these forecasts revolve around the Presidential election. As a tradeoff to its legality, there are strict limitations imposed by the CFTC of $850 at-risk per contract, and the door to PredictIt is fully open to any academics who want to study what its traders are doing.

In order to make a consistent living, one needs to be right a bit more than wrong, and to occasionally be right on very unpredictable outcomes that people did not see coming. I wrote an article in 2012 discussing my process, and in it are stories about discovering a governor from Alaska named Sarah, imagining a Jon Huntsman Presidential campaign before it existed, and losing my shirt misjudging Barack Obama’s cabinet selections. In this 2020-focused article, I’ll dive deep into a single topic: Biden’s VP selection. My goal is to unearth one of those unpredictable outcomes that people did not see coming. For perspective on my recent VP selections…in 2016, I did manage to nail Mike Pence for Trump, but I lost money on Tim Kaine, thinking Hillary would make a more outside-the-box (read: smarter) choice.

Replaying the 2016 Election

The place to begin in Joe Biden’s vice presidential selection process is my analysis of the current general election landscape.