PredictIt Plays of the Week: Trump’s Cabinet Shakeup Provides Big Opportunity

August 2, 2017

by Jon Schweppe

Sometimes, you don’t even need to be a politics whiz in order to win at PredictIt. You just have to read the rules. This week, I have a rules interpretation that could nearly double the smart reader’s investment.

LOCK: Secretary John Kelly First to “Leave” Trump’s Cabinet

The market for who will be first to leave President Trump’s cabinet is still open, despite Reince Priebus leaving last week and Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly taking over as Chief of Staff.

I understand the confusion. The title of the contract itself is worded to imply that Reince Priebus will resolve to YES, as Kelly didn’t leave Trump’s cabinet but simply switched roles. However, let’s read the fine print of the contract:

Following the launch of this market, the first among the officials collectively named in the questions in this market to cease to formally hold the office he or she was listed as holding on the White House web page at upon launch of the market shall be the individual named in the question.

In the event that the time and date upon which two or more of the listed individuals cease to formally hold their respective offices is identical or so similar as to be indistinguishable, as determined at PredictIt’s sole discretion, the question listing the candidate with the first alphabetical last name will resolve as Yes, while other questions will resolve as No.

PredictIt’s decisions and determinations under this rule shall be at PredictIt’s sole discretion and shall be final.

The key takeaway here is that the rules of the contract call for the first official to “cease to formally hold the office he or she was listed as holding.” That’s different than the title of the contract, which is “first to leave.” The title, however, is irrelevant. The rules are what matter.

In this instance, Priebus was let go as Chief of Staff and immediately replaced by Kelly, who then relinquished his “Secretary of Homeland Security” title. This all happened simultaneously, as far as we can tell. A strict reading of the second paragraph implies that, because the move was “identical or so similar as to be indistinguishable, as determined at PredictIt’s sole discretion, the question listing the candidate with the first alphabetical last name will resolve as YES.”

“K” comes before “P.” I learned that in pre-school. So yes, it’s a lock. You can still buy YES contracts on John F. Kelly “leaving” first at just 51 cents.

VALUE PLAY: Joe Manchin Is Still Beatable in West Virginia

The national media has essentially written off West Virginia’s Senate seat for the GOP, and I have to ask… why?

Yes, West Virginia voters like Democratic Senator Joe Manchin… before the 2018 campaign starts. His approval ratings are fairly high, with 57 percent approving and 33 percent disapproving of his job performance according to Morning Consult.

But that’s where the good times end for Sen. Manchin. He’s up against a really impressive GOP candidate in Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Morrisey is unbelievably sharp, his record is impeccable, and there’s no doubt he will savage Manchin for his very blue record in a very red state. Let’s not forget — Trump won 68 percent of the West Virginia vote in 2016. There’s no doubt Morrisey will give Manchin a run for his money.

And Manchin… he just does really stupid things.

Will West Virginians really be on board with a Democratic senator who has obstructed President Trump’s agenda from day one? Who stands with Planned Parenthood? Who stands with the far left environmentalists who want to destroy the coal industry?

PredictIt seems to think so. You can buy Manchin YES shares at 68 cents right now and NO shares at 32 cents. I’m going to respectfully disagree with the market. I think getting more than 2 to 1 on your investment for NO is a pretty great value play, especially when, in this humble correspondent’s opinion, Manchin is actually a slight underdog against Patrick Morissey.

Photo credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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

Archive: Jon Schweppe

5 comments on “PredictIt Plays of the Week: Trump’s Cabinet Shakeup Provides Big Opportunity”

  • Reince Priebus says:

    I believe Don just settled this market factually and intelligently in favor for Priebus.

  • Reince Priebus says:

    I believe Don resolved this market, factually and intelligently in favor of Priebus.

  • Don Quixote says:

    I take it you’re all in on Priebus and just want to pump a little more. Chief of Staff is not Senate confirmed and his tenure ends when he submits his resignation (which Preibus did last Thursday). It doesn’t even have to be accepted (although the President accepted right away). Secretary of Homeland Security is Senate-confirmed. Some might argue that he/she remains Secretary until another one is Senate confirmed. Even if an Acting Secretary is named, it does not relieve the incumbent of his position. Nice try.

    • Jon Schweppe says:


      When I pick LOCKS or VALUE PLAYS, you can be assured I’m not investing the other way. That would be pretty deceptive and gross. In this case, full disclosure, I am invested a couple hundred shares in Kelly.

      The fact that there were never reports of a “chief of staff search” or even a point in time where there was no COS in charge at the White House leads me to believe it happened simultaneously.

      Regardless, I think the lack of clarity will drive PredictIt to follow the contract to the letter of the law and pay out the Kelly shares because K > P.

    • Don Quixote says:

      Your opinion. Hardly a “lock”.

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