Bookmakers all over the world have recently been reporting increased movement around the odds of Trump being impeached at some point during 2017.
Surprisingly enough, not all movement has been going the way you might think.
Yahoo Finance noted earlier this week that one New Zealand-based betting site has seen a big drop since May, when around 30% of punters backed the POTUS to face an impeachment trial, all the way down to a current low of just 9%.
But, as reported in British broadsheet The Telegraph this week, UK sites in particular are still seeing their odds shortening dramatically week on week.
Convinced by analysis from sources like Politico.com, it seems more and more gamblers across the pond seem to be jumping on the impeachment bandwagon by the day. One bookmaker even revealed that the topic was among the most common things being Googled in relation to odds, chances and probabilities at present.
Bold, or naïve?
Of course, you might well argue that this reflects nothing so much as a certain naivety among British punters.
After all, many of them will be understandably unfamiliar with the complexities of the US impeachment process.
Indeed, when you look at how convoluted the path to any presidential impeachment actually is, it comes as little surprise that only two commanders-in-chief have actually sat through the entire process in the history of US politics.
In 1868, Andrew Johnson effectively survived impeachment in office, after the Senate failed to deliver the two-thirds majority vote required to have him found guilty and removed.
Similarly, in 1998, Bill Clinton was eventually backed by a unanimous Democrat contingent in the Senate, and in fact achieved a majority ‘not guilty’ verdict across the entire upper chamber ballot.
(Nixon, in a sense, doesn’t really count in impeachment terms: post-Watergate, he surely would have become the first POTUS in history to be found guilty under impeachment and unceremoniously plucked from office, but he resigned before the key vote even got underway.)
What makes it even less likely that Trump could become the first guilty vote, of course, is that the Republican party currently enjoys a controlling majority in both the upper and lower chambers of Congress.
Trump is certainly quite well protected as things stand. Since any resolution calling for a presidential impeachment trial is raised, in the first instance, by a member of the House of Representatives, that’s where the early rounds of voting typically take place.
A House Committee investigation into those initial allegations of ‘serious misconduct’ is held, after which the entire lower chamber votes on whether or not the findings of the investigation reflect satisfactory grounds to escalate.
Then, if (and only if) a simple majority agree that they do, the case is subsequently presented to the Senate, where it effectively goes to trial. At this stage, a two-thirds vote is required to secure a guilty verdict.
Once again, both chambers are currently under majority Republican control.
Certain high-profile US critics have been extremely vocal in predicting The Donald will end up being impeached one way or another (hello, Michael Moore!). And, yes, Trump has indeed suffered widening party rifts in the wake of his Charlottesville reaction controversy, adding to the recent woes he’d already suffered as a result the whole Comey affair.
On top of all that, there’s now the increasing pressure he’s under to tread carefully (but decisively) with regards to North Korea.
While it’s not inconceivable that Trump – or any president facing similar trials, for that matter – could lose the support of their party to such an extent that they’re effectively abandoned in Congress, the circumstances would have to be genuinely extreme in the current climate.
For one thing, with midterms looming in just over a year’s time, impeachment of a Republican president would no doubt be seen as hugely damaging to the GOP’s overall electoral prospects looking forward.
Moreover, while many individual Republicans no doubt have myriad issues with Trump on both personal and political levels, from a party perspective it still suits them far better to have one of their guys in the White House than a Democrat.
In reality then, impeachment still looks like a heck of a long shot from a pragmatist’s perspective.
Perhaps that’s why, despite the increasing popularity of certain bets overseas, US markets seem somewhat less convinced – or perhaps it’ll turn out to be a simple case of fortune favoring the brave? Only time will tell…