The Racing Card

The Bet - Who will be the next president of the United States?

George Bush Jnr 4-6
Al Gore 11-8
Bill Bradley 9-1
John McCain 9-1
Malcolm Forbes 12-1
Donald Trump 100-1
Ross Perot 500-1

(Source: William Hill)

Betting on the presidential race is illegal in America, so British bookies make a fair amount of money from American punters. During the last race for the White House, one American flew in on Concorde to place a bet, only to be told that he could have telephoned. A punter from Texas, who did ring a William Hill shop, said he wanted to put $3 million on Clinton. Asked if this was not rather a lot, he replied: "There are three of us, so it's only a million each." Even William Hill couldn't take a bet that size, and the man had to settle on a mere £20,000.

The first results in Iowa considerably changed the odds. Both George Bush Jnr and Al Gore have seen their odds shorten, with Bush coming in from evens to 4-6 and Gore from 2-1 to 11-8. The biggest casualty was ex-basketball player Bill Bradley, who failed to make any inroads into the Gore vote. His odds have crashed from 9-2 to 9-1.

The maverick millionaire Malcolm Forbes is still in the race, coming in from 25-1 to 12-1, having done much better against Bush than predicted. John McCain, who didn't bother to campaign in Iowa, has drifted out from 7-1 to 9-1, but if you want to throw money away you could bet on Donald Trump or Ross Perot.

Bush wins my vote for the most crass sound bite so far: "This is the beginning of the end of the Clinton era." But my money is still on Gore to win, even though he still manages to look more like a Thunderbird puppet than a real human being.

This article first appeared in the 31 January 2000 issue of the New Statesman, Why arms sales are bad for Britain