Market Extra: Kavanaugh’s confirmation odds are at their highest level as Senate reviews FBI report


A market for the likelihood that Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed on Thursday implies that the Supreme Court nominee’s chances of getting Senate confirmation in coming days is all but certain.

A contract reflecting the odds of Kavanaugh’s confirmation rose to above 90 cents on Thursday, marking a peak on the political betting market PredictIt, coming off a low just days ago that showed the 53-year-old judge’s confirmation to the highest court in the land at a markedly slimmer probability.

The change in fortune—at least per PredictIt data—comes as Republican Senate leaders and the White House returned a supplemental background investigations that found no corroboration of allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Dr. Christine Blasey Ford by pinning her to a bed, groping her and trying to remove her clothing when they were both in high school about 36 years ago.

Contracts on PredictIt pay based on whether a given outcome happens. The higher the price, the higher the assumed probability an outcome will come to pass. While legal, the site, operated by Victoria University in New Zealand, adheres to limits on position size and total number of traders to stay in compliance with a no-action letter from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The less-than-week-long probe conducted by the Federal Bureau Investigation at the behest of President Donald Trump, which has been criticized by Senate Democrats for its limited scope and completeness, was prompted by an Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who in a dramatic turn in a Senate Judiciary conditioned his vote in favor of a Kavanaugh confirmation on an FBI probe.

On Thursday, Flake, one of three undecided senators in a coming fuller confirmation Senate vote, said he was still reviewing the FBI documents but said “we’ve seen no additional information yet. No additional corroborating information.” Flake is expected to retire after his Senate term ends and has expressed interest in running for president in 2020.

Another potential swing voter, Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, said she believed the investigation was “very thorough.”

With a Republican majority of 51-49, Kavanaugh can afford no more than one GOP defection if every Democrat votes against him. Republican leaders plan to move ahead with votes on Kavanaugh’s nomination beginning Friday.

Meanwhile, Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer criticized the FBI’s report, saying, that it “looks to be the product of an incomplete investigation.” Senate Minority Leader Schumer said he disagreed with Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who said there was “no hint of misconduct” in the report.