BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – When New York Attorney General Letitia James looked into the camera Tuesday and revealed her department’s finding that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women, Cuomo’s political future took an immediate and precipitous drop, betting markets show.
Meanwhile, James’s standing in the Democratic Party rose within the hour. Cuomo’s odds to earn the nomination in next year’s race for governor plummeted before noon Tuesday on the betting site PredictIt, while James became the frontrunner.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Western New York native who is in line to finish Cuomo’s term should he resign or be impeached, saw her stock rise sharply last Tuesday after beginning the day in fourth place. By Friday, she had surpassed James in the market for the 2022 nomination.
PredictIt lets users buy and trade shares of political outcomes. The value of each share is set by the market and fluctuates similarly to a real stock based on public confidence and the news of the day. Share values range in price from 1 cent to 99 cents and pay out $1 when they hit.
“Polling measures how people want something to turn out, but this really measures what people think will happen based on all the information they’re getting,” said Lindsey Singer, PredictIt’s public relations director.
Legislators from all levels of government called for Cuomo to step down within hours of James’s press conference. By Tuesday evening, even President Biden called on Cuomo to resign. But the consequences could be seen immediately on PredictIt.
At 11 a.m. Tuesday, in the market asking, “Will Andrew Cuomo be Governor of New York at the end of the year,” shares of “Yes” were trading at 89 cents. An hour later, after James’ press conference, the value plunged to under 50 cents as approximately 70,000 trades were executed.
Cuomo’s denial of wrongdoing did little to slow the drop in sale price. “Yes” shares closed Tuesday at 34 cents, and dropped again to 27 cents on Wednesday. PredictIt says more than 450,000 trades were made this week in this market.
Cuomo’s odds in the market for the winner of the 2022 New York Democratic gubernatorial nomination took a similar nosedive after James’s press conference. Cuomo opened Tuesday as the leader in a crowded field at 41 cents per share, but fell under 20 cents in the hours immediately after the news before closing at 10 cents.
James, who opened last Tuesday in second place in the gubernatorial market at 33 cents, ended the day as the frontrunner at 40 cents per share. Share prices for Hochul rose sharply Tuesday after opening the day in fourth place (6 cents) and continued to climb throughout the week. By Friday morning, she was trading at 36 cents, two cents higher than James.
“A lot of times when it’s announced there will be a press conference, we see more movement in that market,” Singer said. “But in this case what happened is even after Attorney General James announced she was going to hold a press conference, it didn’t really move the market until the moment she mentioned that Gov. Cuomo had violated state and federal law. And that’s when we saw that dramatic drop, dramatic change in the market. People knew that the investigation was coming out, but they didn’t know how it was going to go until that moment.”
As of Friday, Cuomo was fourth in the market for next year’s Democratic nomination at 6 cents.
A handful of other potential candidates have shares available on PredictIt at long odds, including Jumaane Williams, the New York City Public Advocate and former member of the New York City Council, who is a distant third at 9 cents, and Alessandra Biaggi, a state senator from the Bronx, at 5 cents. Fringe candidates include New York City mayor Bill de Blasio (3 cents), state comptroller Tom DiNapoli (2 cents), and even former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (2 cents), who was a New York U.S. senator from 2001-09.
Cuomo’s team criticized James’s investigation as being politically motivated in recent weeks, but changed their tune from March when Cuomo responded to calls for his resignation by asking New Yorkers “to wait for the facts from the attorney general’s report before forming an opinion.”
Cuomo has given no indication he will resign despite bipartisan calls from politicians at all levels of government. His office continues sending out press releases, giving the impression they are operating under the status quo. Members of the state Assembly say they will “soon consider” articles of impeachment, but gave Cuomo until next Friday to submit more material to the committee.
The apparent holding pattern is reflected on PredictIt: In both the markets asking “Will Andrew Cuomo resign before September 1” and “Will Andrew Cuomo be impeached before September 1,” shares of “Yes” closed at just 29 cents Thursday. Bettors don’t see an immediate resolution on the horizon.