Prop bet-style picks for Pence-Harris vice presidential debate

For the second straight week, FanDuel is offering a free “Presidential Pick ’em” contest, this time centered around the lone vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris on Wednesday night. Politics have basically become sports (and vice/versa), so it only makes sense that a daily fantasy sports and sports betting site offers a contest like this. 

Here are the basics: Enter the contest, make your guesses on 10 debate-related questions — which are essentially prop bets — and see how many you get correct at the end of the night. There will be contests for each of the two remaining presidential debates over the next couple weeks.

PLAY FOR FREE: FanDuel Presidential Pick ’em

With just 10 multiple choice questions, there are only so many ways you can differentiate your entry and finish near the top of the leaderboard. Experienced FanDuel players know you have to take a few chances to win a tournament, and while this isn’t the type of contest you’ll win outright by picking a random tonight who scores three touchdowns, it’s still more fun to gamble on some of the true toss-up questions. Picking with the crowd usually lands you in the middle of the pack.

Like the debate itself, our picks last week were mostly a disaster. We got just five out of 10 right, as Trump let us down by not saying “Sleepy Joe” and no one brought up his Tweets. Those felt like gimmes. We also got a little too contrarian for our own good and picked Biden to be the first candidate cut off by the moderator. In hindsight, that was easily the worst pick of the night because, well…you saw. 

Now that we have one contest under our belt, we’re more confident with our picks. Sure, these are two different candidates, but we know the talking points they’re really going to try to hammer home. At the very least, we’re ready to add a little fun and chance for profit to a night full of deflections, spin, and pre-written one-liners.

Here are our picks for FanDuel’s Presidential Pick ‘em contest for the vice presidential debate. God bless America.

FanDuel Presidential Pick ’em: Picks, advice for Pence-Harris vice presidential debate

1. Which candidate will be asked to respond first in the debate? 

Unlike last week, we can’t find any reports on whether there was a coin toss to determine who gets to answer first. Pence is, shall we say, “old school” when it comes to females, so it’s possible he drops a “ladies first” even if he gets the first question, which is as good of a reason as any to pick Harris. Of course, if that happened, Harris might tell him to “f*** off,” though it’s unclear if that counts as a “response.”

Whatever. This is a pure 50/50 guess, so flip your own coin and go from there.

Our pick: Harris

2. Which presidential candidate will be mentioned first in the debate by either candidate or the moderator?

The first topic is bound to be COVID, and that means the first question will be about President Trump recently contracting the virus. If the question simply asked which presidential candidate would be mentioned first by either candidate, it would be a toss-up (though we’d still lean Trump), but the fact that FanDuel threw in “or the moderator” makes this one a no-brainer, right? Although, it says “in the debate,” so does that mean after the first question is asked?

No, we’re overthinking this. It’s going to be Trump. When it comes to being the center of attention, it’s always Trump…even when he’s not there.

Our pick: Trump

3. What will Mike Pence’s tie look like?

  • Solid color
  • Not a solid color

We were burned by Trump’s tie last week (Stripes? Who saw that coming?), but we’re not going to overcorrect this week. Solids are always the better bet, especially for  a big debate. A Google Image search of Pence shows a pretty even split between solids and patterns, but a little more research reveals a potentially big clue: In his lone debate in 2016, Pence wore a solid blue tie, and he also went solid blue during his inaugeration. It actually might be the same one, which could indicate some sort of “lucky tie” superstition that will carry over to this debate. With airtight logic like that, he can we not say solid?

(Also, isn’t this question kind of sexist? Why can’t Kamala Harris wear a tie? Or Mike Pence wear a pants suit? And why does it have to be an article of clothing associated with one gender at all? Why not  “Will Kamala Harris wear her favorite Chuck Taylors?” or “Will Mike Pence have on a watch that he almost certainly bought from an Indianapolis-area J.C. Penney’s seven years ago?” For shame, FanDuel…for shame.)

Our pick: Solid color

4. Who will be the first candidate to say “China?”

Chances are this will come up early when COVID is being discussed (see below). Harris will focus on Trump’s bout with the virus; Pence will likely focus on how White House Coronavirus Task Force, which he leads, has dealt with the virus since the beginning. That will likely lead to him saying “China.” Of course, this ultimately could come down to who is initially asked to respond to the first COVID question, but even if that’s Harris, she’s not quite as likely to say “China” as Pence is.

FanDuel adding “neither” is a nice little trick by them, but considering “China” was said 13 times in the first debate, it’s highly likely someone will say it in this one, too. 

Our pick: Pence

5. Will “$750” be said by a candidate or the moderator during the debate?

This, of course, is a reference to how much Trump reportedly paid in federal income taxes in 2016 and ’17, respectively, according to a New York Times story that came out almost two weeks ago. Biden said “$750” once during the first presidential debate, and moderator Chris Wallace said it three times. There’s less of a chance moderator Susan Page says it this time around since she won’t be directly speaking to Trump, but because it’s a major talking point for the Democrats, Harris will likely drop it at least once.

There’s also a chance Pence says it if he’s asked how much he’s paid for his haircuts over the past 20 years combined.

Our pick: Yes

6. Which of the following terms or phrases will be said first by a candidate during the debate?

  • “Supreme Court”
  • “COVID”
  • “Social Distance”
  • “Unprecedented”
  • None of the above

So, this one seems obvious — it’s gotta be “COVID,” right? —  but the terrible way in which this question is constructed leaves it open to controversy. The first two choices are specific topics, the third is associated very closely with one of those topics, and the fourth is just an adjective that could be used in a variety of ways. Then, FanDuel throws in “none of the above,” which means…what exactly?

If the first question is about climate change, that would likely qualify “none of the above” — unless one of them immediately refers to it as “unprecedented” climate change, that is. What if the first question is about COVID, but a candidate doesn’t specifically say that word and instead talks about “health care” or a “mask mandate?” Those are the types of phrases that could be on this list and would seemingly qualify as “none of the above.”

See, this question is terrible, so don’t overthink it and just assume the first question will be about Trump getting COVID and one of them will say it. “COVID” was said 17 times in the first debate (thrice by Chris Wallace, twice by Trump, and 12 times by Biden), so you know someone is saying it this time around — just hope it’s the first thing they say.

Our pick: COVID

7. Will either candidate wear a mask on stage?

You know Pence isn’t wearing a mask, so it comes down to whether Harris will. Considering the Biden campaign wanted Harris and Pence to be seated further apart with a plexiglass divider between them, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Harris wore her mask on stage before quickly removing it, especially given the renewed fervor of the mask debate after Trump’s diagnosis.

It would be more of a political statement than anything, but Harris isn’t shy about going big on the debate stage, so let’s be contrarian and say she’ll do it again.

Our pick: Yes

8. Will either candidate say the word “dog” during the debate?

At first, this seems like a random one. Are either Harris or Pence known for telling stories about their dogs? We’re not sure (Pence did get a puppy named Harley in 2017, though), but either way, that’s not what this question is about. It’s really asking, “Will Kamala Harris say ‘dog whistle‘ in reference to President Trump’s response to a question about white supremacy in the first debate?”

That seems likely after Harris referred to that sequence as a “dog whistle through a bullhorn” in a post-debate interview. She undoubtedly wants to use that line again, as it sounds pretty clever (though it’s fair to wonder if a dog whistle is actually louder through a bullhorn).

By answering “yes,” we’re also covered if Pence does tell a story about Harley or if he belches mid-response and says, “Oh s***, sorry — I had a corn dog earlier.” Both possible.

Our pick: Yes

9. Will Kamala Harris say “Momala” during the debate?

Politics aside, we can all agree that it’s a blowhard move to refer to yourself by a nickname, even if it’s a cute one given to you by your kids. However, like most politicians, Harris is a blowhard, so this is still very much in play.

Last week, there was a similar question about whether Biden would say “Scranton.” We got suckered into answering “no” because it didn’t seem like something that would come up naturally, and it wasn’t the type of thing Biden would necessarily force in. Of course, he said “Scranton” twice. It would be easy for us to overcorrect and do the opposite this week, but we’re staying the course. Harris will definitely share at least one anecdote about her family, but we’re betting she doesn’t go full nickname.

Our pick: No

10. How many times will Trump tweet between 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. ET (not inclusive of retweets or replies)?

  • Two or less
  • Three or more

Last week, we said you should always say “yes” on any question involving Trump and Twitter. This one is a little more involved, but honestly, when we first read the question, we thought the over/under would be 10.5. Three? Come on, man! Trump could easily fire off three one-word Tweets in a row, like “WRONG!,” “RIGGED!,” “USA!,” so you have to take the OVER. 

Our pick: Three or more

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