Friday, June 15, 2012

Intrade Odds: Romney Closing on Obama

The Intrade market on the presidential race shows a tighter contest than it did when we last looked at Mitt Romney and Barack Obama's Intrade odds. Obama currently stands at 53.9%; Romney is at 45.8%. Obama retains the edge, most likely because he retains a small lead in unadjusted registered voter polls (a closer look at the Obama vs. Romney polls suggests a slight Romney edge).

Intrade is basically declaring the race a coin flip today, with neither candidate far from the 50% mark. For the last several weeks, the trend has been in Romney's favor: Two weeks ago Obama's lead was 12.7 points, and now it's down to 8.1 points. Until late May, Intrade had the race stable with Obama enjoying a greater than 20 point lead. The race could continue to narrow on Intrade, but it's difficult to see Obama going below 50% any time soon.

The Intrade market on VP nominee has changed a bit. Rob Portman and Marco Rubio are still in first and second, far above the rest of the pack. But in the last two weeks, they have both fallen. Portman is at 23% and Rubio is at 19%; Portman's fallen by 4.5 points and Rubio by 3.

The second-tier is comprised of Tim Pawlenty at 8.2%, Chris Christie at 6.9%, Mitch Daniels at 6.7%, and Bobby Jindal at 5.8%. Can anything explain these numbers? It's likely based on rumor and speculation, because the Romney campaign has not yet released any hints on the identity of the VP pick. One possibility is that Pawlenty and Daniels are viewed as substitutes for Portman. Earlier, we wrote about the possibility of Rob Portman being chosen as Romney's vice presidential nominee. The reasoning behind a Portman pick is that he is bland, but safe. But given Portman's ties to the George W. Bush administration, he's not necessarily safe, because his presence on the ticket would aid Obama in making the "Romney is Bush's Third Term" attack.

If Romney is looking for a bland, safe pick, he might go with Pawlenty or Daniels as substitutes. He might also prefer them because they are former governors, while Portman is a senator. But this is simply Intrade reasoning; Daniels couldn't run for president because of family issues, so those issues ought to make him "unsafe." Pawlenty is the more logical choice, if one buys into the notion of choosing a a placeholder VP.