From being wide-open when the nomination process began three weeks ago, if the betting is any guide, the race for the US presidency increasingly looks like a three-cornered contest.
Despite widespread concerns about her campaign, slippage in nationwide polls and the ongoing investigation into her e-mails, Hillary Clinton remains rock-solid, odds-on favourite to become the Next President at 1.875/6, which equates to a 53% chance.
A narrow, yet significant win in Saturday's Nevada Caucus appears to have given her decisive momentum in the race for the Democrat Nomination, for which she is now a 1.182/11 (85%) chance. The former First Lady can now look forward to a string of wins in less competitive states, such as South Carolina on Saturday.
Clinton is virtually unbackable in SC at the minimum odds of 1.011/100 (99%), and there will be several similar heats on March 1st. After that Super Tuesday extravaganza, every indicator points towards her amassing a huge delegate lead over Bernie Sanders.
Although the GOP field has narrowed from 17 to just 5 candidates, it remains an exciting betting heat. After his second straight runaway victory, Donald Trump is favourite at 1.9720/21 (51%), but Marco Rubio is closing fast at 2.285/4 (44%).
As predicted last week, Rubio edged out Ted Cruz for second place in South Carolina - the effect of which has been to establish the Florida Senator as the alternative to Trump and, perhaps, deal a fatal blow to the Cruz candidacy.
From being second favourite just over a month ago and despite winning the Iowa Caucus, Cruz is out to 50.049/1 (2%) for the nomination, 120.0119/1 (1%) for the presidency. Ohio Governor John Kasich has moved into third spot at 42.041/1 (2%) and 100.099/1 (1%), with Ben Carson totally dismissed at less than 0.5% for either, at odds of 300.0299/1 and 600.0599/1 respectively.
The logic behind recent market moves is that, now Jeb Bush has withdrawn, Rubio is in a great position to hoover up the substantial anti-Trump vote. Polls of various GOP head-to-heads last week recorded Rubio 57-41 ahead of Trump in that hypothetical match-up, mirroring the trends seen in favorability polls.
However, do bear in mind that this scenario is far from certain to play out. It is hard to see Cruz quitting the race, given his vast stockpile of cash and loathing of both Trump and Rubio. Likewise, Kasich will probably stay in until at least March 15th, when his home state votes. It remains quite possible that the anti-Trump vote will remain split, allowing the front-runner to rack up victories via his loyal 35% support base.
The next Republican contest is tomorrow, at the Nevada Caucus. Here,Trump is again widely expected to win with ease, as implied by odds of 1.121/8 (89%). The race for second has more potential as a competitive betting heat, although Rubio is prohibitively priced at 1.21/5 (83%).
One word of caution before betting in these markets. Unlike the last two GOP races, which were open primaries, Nevada is a caucus and therefore much harder for polls to predict. This process favours more politically engaged types, and in Iowa, even the entrance polls were way off.
Follow me on Twitter @paulmotty and at my website Political Gambler
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