PredictIt Plays of the Week: Cruz 2020 and the Alabama Senate Race

August 18, 2017

by Jon Schweppe


It’s been a couple weeks since I last wrote a PredictIt column, but I assure you I haven’t gone anywhere. If you’re wondering about my last LOCK, check out my column from two weeks ago: the Kelly/Priebus contract still has not been adjudicated by PredictIt, and the contract is still open for trading. I stand by my prediction that PredictIt will rule in favor of the Kelly contract holders, although it remains to be seen when exactly that will happen.

This week I have two new LOCKS for you.

LOCK: Ted Cruz Won’t Run for President in 2020

I have no doubt that Ted Cruz will run for president again someday, but I’m skeptical that it will happen in 2020. One of the following scenarios would have to happen for Cruz to run in 2020:

  1. Trump resigns
  2. Trump declares he will not run for re-election.
  3. Trump is impeached and removed from office, and Cruz runs for the Republican nomination to “save” the party.
  4. In an effort to capitalize on overwhelming anti-Trump sentiment in the Republican Party, Cruz runs a primary bid against Trump in 2020.

These scenarios seem very unlikely.

In scenario one, Vice President Pence would become the new President with the full blessing of the GOP establishment. It’s unlikely that Pence would be primaried by a serious opponent in that scenario.

In scenario two, one would have to assume that the Trump Administration failed to accomplish any of its objectives and that the Republican Congress also failed. That would mean 2020 would likely be a rough year for a Republican nominee. Would Cruz be willing to carry the torch and lose valiantly?

Similarly, scenario three would make it almost impossible for a Republican nominee to win in 2020, given the disgraced state of his or her party.

Scenario four is, in my opinion, perhaps the least likely scenario of the four. Following the GOP convention, many thought Cruz would lead the #NeverTrump charge within the Republican Party. He didn’t. And post-election, he has largely supported the President.

It’s also important to note: as Cruz spends more time in Washington, he is quickly shifting from the ideologue we saw in 2013 to a pragmatic, savvy politician. Check out this blurb from Forbes from earlier this month:

In a summer marked by disappointment over health care and chaos at the White House, one bright spot for conservatives has been the reinvention of Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Before the White House engaged in a firing frenzy, Cruz quietly fired himself.

Gone is Cruz 1.0 – the Senator who, in 2013, thought a government shutdown would persuade President Obama to “defund” his signature achievement. In his place is Cruz 2.0 – a Senator who was nearly the hero (and may yet be) of the repeal and replace effort. Instead of berating his colleagues for putting forward a flawed bill, Cruz worked to improve the bill and persuaded his conservative colleagues, including holdouts Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas, to vote yes.

The difference between these Cruzes is striking.

Pragmatists don’t run for President if they don’t think they have a chance at winning. Cruz badly wants to be president, but he probably recognizes that a second failed presidential bid would doom his chances of ever succeeding, so why risk it in a difficult year for Republicans? Unless President Trump is wildly successful — which would mean he would be the GOP nominee for re-election in 2020 — Republicans aren’t going to have another real shot at the White House until 2024 or later. We will know years in advance when Ted Cruz is ready to run for president again, and right now, the time isn’t right.

Cruz is no fool, and he certainly isn’t positioning himself against the President for a primary bid in 2020. His likelihood of running increases if President Trump is pushed out of office, but again, knowing Ted Cruz, it doesn’t seem likely he would throw away his shot on a surefire losing effort. This is a lock, and at 65 cents for NO, it’s a lock at a fantastic price, as long as you’re willing to hold it until mid-2019, when this price will spike to the 90-cent range.

LOCK: Roy Moore to Win Alabama Senate Race

On Tuesday, in the race to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate, Judge Roy Moore and Senator Luther Strange advanced to the final runoff of the GOP Primary, which will take place on September 26th. Moore received 38.9 percent of the vote, while Strange received 32.8 percent. Congressman Mo Brooks, who did not advance, finished third with 19.7 percent of the vote.

All of these men are good conservatives and would represent Alabama well. But who will win the primary to face Democrat Doug Jones in December?

Moore appears to be the favorite. Strange was appointed to the seat by disgraced former Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned amidst accusations of campaign finance and ethics violations and an affair with a female staffer in April. And Strange’s approval rating, even in a deep red state, was at just 46 percent in a poll conducted last week. Moore, on the other hand, enjoyed an approval rating of 56 percent. In that same poll, in a hypothetical runoff between Moore and Strange, Moore led 45-34. That would appear to suggest Moore will pick up more Brooks supporters than Strange.

That ultimately becomes the real question: where do the Brooks supporters go? Given that Strange is the pseudo-incumbent, and they already had a chance to support him on Tuesday, my guess is that a large portion of that support will go to Judge Moore.

Of course, this contract won’t conclude at the end of next month’s primary. Whoever wins — and it looks like that will be Roy Moore — will still need to defeat Democrat Doug Jones in December. But in deep red Alabama, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Roy Moore is the favorite, but at 65 cents, I’m not sure he’s being rated highly enough. This is a LOCK with juicy value at that price.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore


Jon Schweppe is the Director of Government Affairs for American Principles Project. Follow him on Twitter @JonSchweppe

Archive: Jon Schweppe