Californians Newsom and Harris See Presidential Fortunes Rise

Californians Newsom and Harris See Presidential Fortunes Rise

US Vice President Kamala Harris (R) waves alongside California Governor Gavin Newsom during a campaign event in San Leandro, California, on September 8, 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

John Seiler

John Seiler

2/19/2024

Updated: 2/19/2024

Commentary
Back on Jan. 9, I wrote in The Epoch Times, “California Gov. Newsom’s 2024 Presidential Hopes Fade.” I noted several missteps had dropped his PredictIt number, the betting odds he would become the presidential nominee this year. That included a disastrous trip to Communist China, a soaring state deficit, and an intractable homeless crisis.
But then something happened: After Special Counsel Robert Hur’s report was released that week on the scandal over President Biden leaving classified documents unsecured in his personal home and office as vice president and U.S. senator—which found Mr. Biden couldn’t stand trial because he was “an elderly man with a poor memory”—things started to change again.
Making matters worse, Mr. Biden held a snap press conference defending his memory—then mixed up Mexico and Egypt. In a new graph from PredictIt, Mr. Newsom’s chances of garnering the Democratic Party’s nomination for president spiked right after Feb. 7, doubling from 9 cents to 18 cents on Feb. 9.
As of Feb. 19, it was still 15 cents.
The graph also shows how the fortunes of Vice President Kamala Harris, another Californian, also spiked, from 4 cents on Feb. 7 to 9 cents on Feb. 9. It’s now at 7 cents.
(Predictit.org/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

(Predictit.org/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

There’s another chart for Ms. Harris. This one shows her chances of becoming the 47th U.S. president. That would mean either: 1. Mr. Biden resigns before his term ended. 2. The cabinet removes him from office under the 25th Amendment. 3. The U.S. House of Representatives impeaches him, and the U.S. Senate convicts him, removing him from office. 4. Mr. Biden completes his full term, but does not run for reelection, Ms. Harris is nominated by the Democratic National Committee as their replacement candidate, and she wins on Nov. 5.
The PredictIt line jumps from 22 cents on Feb. 7 to 28 cents on Feb. 9. Then it settles back down to 26 cents on Feb. 19. That’s a high number.
(Predictit.org/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

(Predictit.org/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

What Is Political Betting?

Of course, all this is conjecture. And this doesn’t mean to suggest anyone should be gambling here. But betting odds do often have a basis in reality. The odds for sports games are calculated the same way, such as for the Super Bowl.
PredictIt explains, “You make predictions by buying shares. The price of a share, between 1 and 99 cents, corresponds to the market’s estimate of the probability of an event taking place. Buy ‘Yes’ shares when the price is too low, when you think your fellow traders are underestimating this likelihood. Buy ‘No’ shares when you think they are too optimistic.
“The value of your shares will change over time. You may decide to sell your shares later on, either to take some profit or stop a loss. Or, you can hold onto your shares until the market closes. At that point, if the event in the market has taken place, we’ll redeem ‘Yes’ shares at $1. If it has not, ‘No’ shares will have that $1 value instead.”
Sports TV shows nowadays talk nonstop about rumors concerning player injuries, the weather, spats on the team or with the owner, etc. Likewise, political betting is based on what we all watch on TV or read in The Epoch Times or on other sites. And there’s one more thing: gossip.
When I lived in Washington, D.C., as a journalist from 1982 to 1987, I would go to parties and hear nothing but gossip—about the secret lives of politicians, who was in and who was out on President Reagan’s cabinet, what might be in his next speech, etc. I once tallied which rumors turned out to be true—and it came out exactly 50 percent; meaning also 50 percent false. So there was no predictive value.
But I was just a journalist. What about someone who’s the friend of a cabinet undersecretary’s wife and hears some insider information—and, nowadays, bets on PredictIt? What are the current rumors in Washington about the president’s health? If you went to any of the many parties there, you would get an earful.
James O’Keefe, the muckraking journalist, on Jan. 31 released a video on X of a secret conversation with Biden administration official Charlie Kraiger, who said, “Biden is definitely slowing down. ... I’m just telling you what I’ve heard… they’re really concerned about it. ... But no one in modern history has ever said, like, ‘We’re not going to renominate the president for a second term.’” He also said they wouldn’t be removing Ms. Harris from the ticket.

Biden Questions Continue

After the Biden disaster on Feb. 8, new prominence was given to an interview Ms. Harris gave two days earlier, on Feb. 6, to the Wall Street Journal. “I am ready to serve. There’s no question about that,” she said when asked about voters’ concerns over Mr. Biden’s leadership. She said those who see her working walk “away fully aware of my capacity to lead.”
On Feb. 9, the New York Times’ editorial page, a strong Biden backer, cautioned: “A remarkably broad swath of the American public—both Mr. Biden’s supporters and his detractors—have expressed increasing doubts about his ability to serve for another five years because of his age. As Nate Cohn, The Times’s chief political analyst, noted, ‘In Times/Siena polling last fall, more than 70 percent of battleground state voters agreed with the statement that Mr. Biden’s “just too old to be an effective president.”’ But the release of the special counsel Robert K. Hur’s report on Thursday—and Mr. Hur’s assessment that the president presents himself as a ‘well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory’—will invariably test the trust that the American people have in their president. ...
“Mr. Biden has been a wise and steady presence. He needs to do more to show the public that he is fully capable of holding office until age 86,” the last year of a potential second term.

Conclusion: Newsom and Harris Speculation to Continue

Mr. Biden isn’t going to get any younger. It’s also long been known the presidency is such a demanding job, it ages its occupants at a rapid rate. Fox News on Feb. 13 put out a speculative piece, “Meet 5 Democrats who have been floated as possible Biden replacements.”
No. 1 is Mr. Newsom, who has “perhaps been the most mentioned name as a potential presidential nominee, given his outspoken criticism of national Republican figures as well as his high-profile clash with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at a debate hosted by Fox News last year.”
No. 2 is Ms. Harris, “Media figures have also mentioned her as a potential replacement for Biden, including the hosts of ABC’s daytime talk show, ‘The View,’ who suggested she could be a better nominee than Biden in the wake of the Hur report.”
No. 3 is former First Lady Michelle Obama. No. 4 is Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. And Nov. 5 is Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.
It just goes to show how political fortunes can turn on a dime. On March 5, Mr. Biden should easily win all the Democratic Party’s Super Tuesday primaries, in including California’s, sealing his nomination.
But the doubts about his capacity to govern will increase with every memory lapse and physical fall—as the dreams of glory swell in Ms. Harris and Mr. Newsom.
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John Seiler

John Seiler

Author

John Seiler is a veteran California opinion writer. Mr. Seiler has written editorials for The Orange County Register for almost 30 years. He is a U.S. Army veteran and former press secretary for California state Sen. John Moorlach. He blogs at JohnSeiler.Substack.com and his email is writejohnseiler@gmail.com

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