A market for the likelihood that Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed is suggesting that the Supreme Court nominee’s chances of getting Senate confirmation are increasing Thursday.
Kavanaugh offered tearful and impassioned testimony in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee against allegations that he 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.
A contract reflecting the odds of Kavanaugh’s confirmation within the past 24 hours rose to above 70 cents from a low of 36 cents intraday on the political betting market PredictIt and about 44 cents just before his testimony, which followed Ford’s.
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. (see chart below):
“This confirmation process has become a national disgrace,” Kavanaugh said in his opening statement. You have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy,” he added.
Kavanaugh claimed that he never attended a booze-filled gathering like the one Ford described and he also denied allegations made by two separate women that he acted inappropriately with them.
Ford, a California college professor, in her own passionate recollection testified that she was “100% certain” that it was Kavanaugh that assaulted her that night, which the judge adamantly refutes.
“I swear to you today under oath, before the Senate and the nation, before my family and God, that I am innocent of this charge,” Kavanaugh said, concluding his opening statement.
Meanwhile, the market was watching closely, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.21% the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.28% and the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.65% all finishing the session higher but keeping one eye on the dramatic testimony, market participants said.
Earlier this week, Kavanaugh’s confirmation odds were at a low point, falling to a nadir around 30 cents.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote Friday on whether to move Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Senate floor for confirmation, which could occur as soon as Tuesday. He could be seated on the Supreme Court as early as next week, around the start of the court’s new term.
For her part, Ford drew plaudits for her clear, deliberate and emotional testimony and N.J. Democrat Sen. Cory Booker referred to her Thursday efforts as “heroic”.
However, Kavanaugh drew praise from President Donald Trump, who via Twitter referred to the U.S. appellate judge’s defense as “powerful, honest, and riveting:”
Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him. His testimony was powerful, honest, and riveting. Democrats’ search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist. The Senate must vote!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2018
If Kavanaugh doesn’t pass muster in a judiciary Senate vote, Trump would have to start from scratch just weeks before the midterm elections get under way.