So the results are in and he’s back for another four years. He didn’t quite get the big thumbs up from the American public he might have expected and wanted, but he’s back for that all-important second term and Romney is left wondering what could have been.
The ‘Will he, won’t he?’ hype that has surrounded this presidential campaign has kept us all on the edge of our seats almost as much as the ‘Do he, doesn’t he?’ debate around Mitt’s hair colour, but the reality was that Romney was behind in the polls pretty much all the way.
They were so sure that Obama would win, that they declared him the winner way back in June
Commentators saw Romney’s campaign horse begin to tire around mid-October, and whilst it never quite became a donkey, a dozen national polls published just days before the election had Obama leading by an average of 1.6 percentage points. Of course, a lot of factors played their part in this easing off of Mitt’s popularity – slightly improved economic factors, Mitt’s habitual gaffs, Obama’s action-man jogging at runways… and of course, both men were hit by a touch of the wind.
They say that it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good and, whilst it was a tragedy for thousands of Americans with over 100 deaths and billions of dollars worth of damage, this time it seems that all of the good wind was blown Barrack Obama’s way. Hurricane Sandy’s timely intervention might just have given Obama the edge and the opportunity to shine that he so sorely needed after some poor performances in those all-important Presidential debates.
Mitt came out looking slicker than his hair and Obama wasn’t at his best; it was bound to reflect in the polls. As New York Times journalist, Nate Silver, reporting on the polls wrote recently: “As any poker player knows, those 8% chances do come up once in a while. If it happens this year, then a lot of polling firms will have to re-examine their assumptions — and we will have to re-examine ours about how trustworthy the polls are. But the odds are that Mr Obama will win another term.”
Even so, many pollsters felt that the race was too close to call and for a while, the President was virtually tied with Mitt Romney in the popular vote. Not so bookmakers, Paddy Power. They were so sure that Obama would win, that they declared him the winner way back in June. Of course, they did have some pretty good form to go on. Since 1980 America has mostly gone with two-term presidents. The last time America gave its commander-in-chief the heave-ho after a single term was when an unpopular George Bush senior faced a charismatic Bill Clinton, and Romney, despite a well-practised smile, is no Bill Clinton – unless one his female aides knows differently.
Paddy Power has made it their mission to try new publicity strategies, and they are famous for outrageous advertising publicity stunts which go viral immediately on Youtube. These include tranquilising chavs, cross-dresser spotting, and erecting massive Hollywood style signs at well-known sporting events. To publicise its latest Presidential payout Paddy Power placed press ads in major US newspapers which showed a smiling Obama with the wording: “Mitt Romney. You’re not black or cool. We’re playing out early on an Obama victory.”
Black American comedian, Chris Rock might easily have picked up on Paddy Power’s ‘cool and black’ vibe, and in a viral video on Youtube sent out a message to white voters. Rock argued that white Americans should vote Obama because he has so many white cultural influences in his life that he actually is white. “Let’s take a look at the facts,” Rock says in the video, “For the first two-thirds of his life, Barack Obama was known as Barry–which is the third whitest name on Earth, right after Cody and Jeff.” Chris, a confirmed Obama supporter, also cracks “Barack Obama supports gay marriage. Most black men don’t even support straight marriage.”
Yes, Obama is black and he’s cool whilst Romney isn’t. To Paddy Power, it was as much a no-brainer as many consider Mitt to be. So after looking at the risks they decided to pay out early to customers who had backed Barry Obama, saying that, despite the lack of a clear steer from the polls, they believed it was a ‘done deal’, and that Barrack was a ‘nailed on certainty to win a second term.’
In 2009 Paddy Power paid out early on Tiger Woods. It proved to be a very costly error for Paddy Power, losing them around $2m.
As it turned out they were right, and you could almost hear the big sighs of Paddy Power relief go around. Mind you, they don’t always call it correctly. Back in 2009, Paddy Power paid out early on another world-famous black American, Tiger Woods, who was beaten by South Korean Yang Yong-eun in the US PGA Champions. It proved to be a very costly error for Paddy Power, losing them around $2m.
Despite this though, it didn’t put them off calling an early victory for Barry, saying at the time: “Romney gave it a good shot and is doing well in the popular vote, but we suspect he’s had his moment in the sun and is likely to be remembered more for his legendary gaffes than Presidential potential. The overall betting trend has shown one-way traffic for Obama and punters seemed to have called it 100 percent correct. Despite Romney appealing to the large evangelical and senior vote, America‘s sticking with black and cool.”
This isn’t the first controversial Obama wager by Paddy Power either, and it’s unlikely to be the last. They took bets on which pub the president would down a Guinness in during his visit to Ireland in May 2011. They also, according to the Irish Independent, offered 12-1 odds the President would not finish his first term in office. I wonder on what they’d have taken bets for Mitt Romney if he’d managed to become President? Although we shall never know for certain, I think I’d bet that hair-product and hand-warmers would have been on the possibility list.