Successful political bettors are impartial. They don’t let the most outrageous news stories affect their bets. One easy exercise novice political bettors can do to develop this discipline is to catch officials who treat historical differences between Democrats and Republicans as if they’re accurate.
For example, in the wake of racist tweets by President Donald Trump, Kevin McCarthy said at a press conference that the Republicans were “the party of Lincoln.” McCarthy hoped to benefit from the connotation President Lincoln has with racial justice.
However, Lincoln still thought that whites were superior to African Americans. The reason John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln was because of a speech where Lincoln endorsed limited suffage for Black Americans. Limited suffrage may have been progressive for his time. But McCarthy surely didn’t want to invoke the portion of Lincoln’s legacy that failed to fully recognize the common humanity of Black people.
Invoking previous iterations of the Democratic Party doesn’t work either. Southern Democrats used to advocate lynching, which is at odds with the racially progressive image modern Democrats try to convey. The modern Republican Party isn’t the Party of Lincoln any more than the modern Democratic Party is the president of Andrew Jackson. (Although Andrew Jackson predated the mass lynchings during Reconstruction, his “Indian removal” policies toward Native Americans included the infamous trail of tears.)
So, comparing modern parties to their historical counterparts is inaccurate at best and a deflection of criticism at worst. Learning to see through these cliches will help political bettors observe politics more impartially. That discipline will help them see where the political winds blow instead of getting lost in the gale.
Case: Dealing With Difference Between Democrats And Republicans
Today, the difference between Democrats and Republicans is often framed as a big versus small government. The Dodd-Frank Act’s creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) under Obama seems like a typically Democratic move. President Trump eliminating environmental rules and leaving limit-setting to companies or individuals seems like a typically Republican move.
However, the parties’ different responses to the Capital riot in January 2021 reveal more extreme splits. After Senate Republicans blocked a bill that could create an independent commission similar to the one that investigated 9/11, House Democrats voted the special investigative committee, which has become the January 6 committee, into existence. On February 4, 2022, the Republican National Committee censured Liz Cheny and Adam Kinzinger in part for participating in the January 6 committee.
This issue alone seems like it paints a troubling picture for the Republicans in the 2022 midterms. However, the investigation into the Capitol riot does not seem to be a serious partisan issue. In July 2021, Morning Consult published poll results that found decreased Republican and Independent support for a congressional investigation into January 6. Many voters want to move on from it.
The lessons political bettors can draw from this example are:
- Your feelings about serious issues are probably not the same as the electorate’s.
- There’s a feedback loop between voter feelings and political rhetoric.
- Rhetoric is not reality.
Identifying the real differences between the parties allows political bettors to see the differences in the electorate too. The differences that matter aren’t from decades or centuries ago. Modern political differences decide elections. Don’t let a congressman’s invocation of a long-dead political giant distract your bet. Additionally, don’t let your own feelings about a political issue skew your perception of key issues.