Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman Odds Rise on Intrade

Now that Huckabee and Daniels have opted out of the 2012 Republican primary, it's time to check in with Intrade once again to see what it reveals. Though Intrade is not a reliable indicator of the future, it presents us with a picture of the conventional wisdom of the liberal Washington establishment. For previous posts examining Intrade, see the previous: One, Two, Three. Intrade's market for the 2012 Republican primary may be found here.

As with other candidates who made public declarations that they would not run, the odds for Mike Huckabee and Mitch Daniels have crashed to 0%. It's worth pointing out that candidates who have made unconvincing denials of their intentions to run (i.e., in response to interviewer questions rather than of their own initiative) have low odds, but not zero. Chris Christie and Rick Perry, for instance, are given about 2.3% by the market.

Newt Gingrich's stock on Intrade crashed almost as badly as the candidates who left the race. He is given 2.3%. That's on par with some people who say they're not running. Obviously Gingrich's fall was due to his terrible first weak of campainging. Did Gingrich's gaffes really doom his campaign? Maybe for those who follow politics closely, but most Republican primary voters are several months away from beginning to pay attention. It's common for politically-minded people to overreact to the temporary downs and ups of the 24-hour news cycle. Clearly this applies to Intrade investors.

Now for a look at the highest-rated candidates. A gulf has formed between the top three and everyone else. Mitt Romney is still the Intrade frontrunner at 28.3%. Tim Pawlenty has rocketed upward, and is not far behind at 25.0%. Intrade investors have correctly determined that most of Daniels' support will go to Pawlenty, who now has a much clearer path to victory in Iowa. It's long been the conventional view that Romney is the frontrunner. For second place to get so close is very impressive.

Jon Huntsman is in third, with 17.1%. Outside of the Washington establishment (and Utah, where he was governor), very few people have even heard of Huntsman. He has not officially started a campaign or even an exploratory committee. His high ranking reflects his status as a (newly-minted, perhaps temporary) darling of the Washington establishment.

Elephant Watcher will add Huntsman to the roster of candidates and conduct a full analysis if and when Huntsman runs (or forms an exploratory committee). For now, it is enough to say that his path to victory requires destroying Romney's campaign with a win in New Hampshire. Given Intrade's love of Romney, it's ironic that they would rate Huntsman so highly: One will doom the other in New Hampshire. Who wins Iowa, if not Pawlenty?

It's fair to say Intrade investors are more likely to discount the power of an Iowa/South Carolina strategy, even though it's a more natural fit than a New Hampshire/South Carolina strategy given the similarities between IA and SC. Intrade investors are also convinced that an electable candidate will win the Republican nomination.