Thursday, January 5, 2012

Intrade Odds: Mitt Romney Stands Unchallenged

We last reviewed the Intrade market on the Republican primary a few weeks ago, when Newt Gingrich's slide in the polls was first becoming apparent. At that time, Gingrich's Intrade odds crashed, and Mitt Romney held a commanding lead. Since then, the gap has only widened. Now, at 79.4%, Romney stands unchallenged at the top of the market. No other candidate is in double-digits.

Gingrich's fall in the (mostly Iowa) polls, and his poor showing in Iowa, have cut him down to 6.3%. Rick Perry's disappointing fifth-place finish in Iowa has dropped him to 1.7%. Ron Paul's supporters, who normally buoy his Intrade odds, have beaten a tactical retreat as well: Paul is at 2.6%.

What about Rick Santorum? As expected, he has risen noticeably. Before his movement in the polls last week, he was trading at only 0.5%. Compared to that, his numbers have skyrocketed. Looking at it any other way, his numbers are relatively modest: 6.4%, like Gingrich. It's clear that the Intrade investors are skeptical of Santorum for now, but he's likely to rise as Santorum's near-win in Iowa gets reflected in future polls. For now, Intraders think Romney is unstoppable.

The investors are bullish on Romney's performance in the next few states. In New Hampshire, he is trading at 94.1%. In South Carolina, one might think Romney's lower poll numbers would curb investors' enthusiasm. Not so: Romney is at 50.1%. Gingrich, who has a substantial lead in the (admittedly old) South Carolina polls, is only at 21%. Santorum is edging Gingrich out at 22.5% in that state. Thus, we can conclude many investors think Gingrich and Santorum are fairly evenly-matched, and that split will be to Romney's benefit.

The real headline is in the market for Florida's primary, where Romney is at 80%. If South Carolina slows Romney down a little, the investors think he'll take Florida and sail to victory.