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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Even after the White House's delayed response to the coronavirus outbreak, unprecedented job losses and a bruising recession, investors and betting markets are still putting their money on President Trump to win re-election.

The big picture: Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden holds a sizable lead in most national and individual swing state polls — but money managers expect Trump to retake the White House in November.

  • In a late April survey of U.S.-based investors with at least $1 million of assets, UBS found that 53% said they planned to vote for Biden.
  • But 52% think Trump will win.

The intrigue: The world's most popular betting destinations show Trump as the clear favorite.

  • The RealClearPolitics average of betting websites gives the advantage to Trump with an average spread of 8.2 as of Sunday night.
  • Casino sportsbooks are paying around $83 for winning bets on Trump versus $135 for winning bets on Biden, making Biden the unequivocal underdog, Bovada shows.

What we're hearing: The expectation for Trump to triumph seems to largely reflect optimism about the economy once various state and local lockdown orders end, economists say.

"We can’t expect that the economy is going to be in very good shape, although the trajectory ought to be pretty positive by November," Steve Skancke, a former Treasury Department and Council on Economic Affairs official in the Carter and Reagan administrations, tells Axios.

  • As November approaches, it's "more than likely we’re going to see a positive stock market and there will be positive job growth," says Skancke, now chief economic advisor at wealth manager Keel Point.

Between the lines: "The wildcard obviously is the virus and the [potential] vaccine," Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Investor Service, tells Axios.

  • "And that’s a very significant wildcard both on the downside and the upside for people’s perceptions of how the president managed all this and how they’re going to vote in November."

Yes, but: Thus far Trump has not gotten the expected bump that comes from national catastrophes as Americans typically rally around the flag and the president, says Bernard Baumohl, chief economist at The Economic Outlook Group.

  • "These are times when the nation as a whole, the American people, will look to the president and the White House for policies that will get them out of this mess and all they’re seeing is rhetoric designed to get Trump re-elected," he tells Axios.
  • "He wants to see the economy be revived again but before it’s safe to do so. That I think is going to become somewhat catastrophic when the numbers start to pick up for that second wave" of infections.

The bottom line: The election is likely to be a referendum on how Trump handles the pandemic and whether his push to restart the economy got the U.S. back on track or drove a second wave of infections that did even more damage.

Go deeper

Trump campaign ad attacks Biden's mental faculties

Trump campaign ad screenshot

President Trump's re-election campaign launched its most brutal ad of the 2020 election overnight, suggesting Joe Biden has experienced severe mental decline over the past four years.

Driving the news: The digital ad, "What happened to Joe Biden," is timed to overlap with the Democratic National Convention and launches the Trump campaign's four-day takeover of the YouTube masthead.

Beto O'Rourke: Biden winning Texas would "end Trumpism in America"

Joe Biden defeating President Trump in Texas would be a "seismic" event that would "once and for all end the Trump presidency and Trumpism in America," former presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke predicted at an Axios digital event on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Recent polls indicate that Trump and Biden are currently in a dead heat in the state, traditionally a Republican stronghold, suggesting that Texas may be a presidential swing state come November. But O'Rourke warned that the Biden campaign is not doing enough to court Texas voters.

Trump attacks Biden after DNC speech: "Somebody please explain to Michelle Obama"

Former First Lady Michelle Obama addresses the virtual Democratic National Convention Monday night. Photo: Handout/DNCC via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Tuesday morning what appeared to be a response to Michelle Obama's address during the first night of the Democratic National Convention.

Driving the news: Michelle Obama said Monday night that from coronavirus deaths to the economy to foreign alliances and racial justice, Trump has sewn "chaos, division and a total and utter lack of empathy."

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