Crunch Time for Kavanaugh Markets

We’re down to it now folks!  With the hearing seeming like it’s going forward tomorrow (though many are still betting that Dr. Blasey doesn’t show), we’re entering into a realm wholly unknown to PredictIt.  Thursday’s live, televised testimony determines whether Kavanaugh is confirmed or isn’t.  This is like trading an election market during a debate, except if the outcome of that election almost entirely hinged on the debate.

The Markets

Will the Senate confirm a SCOTUS nominee in September?

Will Dr. Blasey testify?

Will Judge Kavanaugh testify?

Will Mark Judge testify?

Will the Judiciary Committee vote on Kavanaugh in September?

How many votes will Kavanaugh get in a confirmation vote?

Will Kavanaugh be the next SCOTUS justice?

Will any Democrat vote for Kavanaugh in a confirmation vote?

Individual senator votes on a confirmation: Flake, Corker, Jones, Paul, Murkowski, Collins, Tester, Donnelly, Heitkamp, Manchin, Capito.

Because there’s a chance: How many tie-breaking votes will Pence cast in 2018?

Buzzword bingos – Kavanaugh: “Biden“, “Swetnick

(We may get new markets today on the specific date, and possibly buzzword bingo markets for the hearing; I’ll try to keep this up to date.)

The Hearing

Will it happen?  Will both show?  Both markets lean yes, though they’re more confident in Kavanaugh appearing.  My sense is that the hearing is almost certain to happen, barring some Avenatti revelations that suddenly up-end everything. (Random Prediction: Avenatti’s victim client isn’t alleging anything against Kavanaugh, but does have something against Mark Judge.  Just reading between the lines a bit.)  UPDATE: As I drafted this, Avenatti released the sworn affidavit of his client, alleging that she witnessed Kavanaugh/Judge do bad things.  Let’s see what happens I guess…

The big question is what happens during the hearing.  The politics – and the markets – will react to how “believable” Dr. Blasey is.  This is obviously subjective, and partisan eyes and ears will slant their takes (as will your own).  I have no advice for you other than to pay attention to twitter and see how the hive mind is reacting.  My guess is that she, as a professional academic, is going to be fine speaking.  I doubt she’ll be overly emotional, but who knows.  As for the markets, assuming that she does come across as sincere, I expect them to drift in favor of Kavanaugh NOT being confirmed (and for the committee vote to be delayed, etc).

The reverse is true when Kavanaugh speaks – is he sincere?  Does he get flustered when asked about drinking in his youth?  If he comes off well, the markets will drift back into his favor.  If he doesn’t, then GG.

Folks I really don’t know how the trading is going to go down tomorrow.  I don’t know what big moments to expect.  I don’t know what facial expressions Flake will make when listening to Dr. Blasey, or whatever else will influence our interpretation of how the testimony influences Kavanaugh’s odds.  If you’re a buy-and-hold player, enjoy the show.  If you like flipping, good luck!

The Vote

Republicans – Most are YES.  Murkowski is comfortable voting NO if the hearing warrants it.  Collins wants to vote YES but is open to changing her mind.  Flake is in a similar position and needs a good excuse / fig leaf to vote YES.  Corker wants to vote YES.  There are a bunch we haven’t heard from (Sasse, Capito, Rounds, Rubio, etc) who were YES but probably don’t want to take this vote.  I have no idea how Fischer and Ernst are taking this one.

Basically, McTurtle has been bluffing / pumping all week that he’s going to have a vote to keep his caucus at least quiet if not necessarily behind the nominee.  But if the hearing goes south for Kavanaugh (the Fox interview was a bit rougher than expected for him), it’s absolutely not out of the question that McTurtle pulls the plug, the committee vote gets delayed, and Kavanaugh withdraws and like twelve markets at once die.  It’ll be a lot more interesting, of course, if he pushes forward.  Especially since there’s a chance the nomination dies at cloture and we may have a BCRA 2.0 in the markets with how much new money is around.

Democrats – First, read Dave Weigel.  Next, know that Jones and Tester are almost certainly NO.  Manchin wants to vote YES, believe it or not, so he’s hoping the hearing goes really poorly for Kavanaugh so that he can comfortably vote NO.  Heitkamp can vote NO now without a bad hearing because Kevin Cramer, her opponent, has almost gone full Todd Akin.  Donnelly is in an interesting spot, similar to Manchin’s I would say except that he has a narrower lead to work with.

The Aftermath

If the Kavanaugh vote happens and fails, I expect a transient bump in the “Red Wave” contracts as folks that have bought into the theory that this will increase Republican turnout go and spend their money.  So pay attention to GOPSEN and GOPHOUSE.

If the nomination does falter, who will Trump pick next?  Thapar?  Barrett?  Larson?  Kethledge?  Hardiman?  I really hope this happens, as it will make PredictIt quite fun during the lame duck…




Disclaimer: I probably have positions or intend to take positions in just about all the markets I discuss herein.  You should always do your own research prior to making any investment decision. You should consider my advice and knowledge I share to be fundamentally biased in its presentation and selection by my own financial incentives.  While I do not knowingly lie I certainly do knowingly omit information that I think gives me an edge.


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