Betfair punters are fast losing faith in Donald Trump after a terrible week. From odds of 1.42/5 last weekend, equivalent to a 71% rating to win the Republican Nomination, the front-runner has drifted markedly on the exchange to 2.01/1 or 50%. In the meantime, principal rival Ted Cruz's odds have more than halved from 8.415/2 to 3.9 (26%).
A multitude of reasons can be attributed but principally it is due to the growing expectation that Trump will fail to accumulate the 1237 delegates required to avoid a Contested Convention. That complex, potentially anarchic outcome is now rated 80% likely at odds of 1.251/4.
The next big race is Tuesday's Wisconsin Primary, where 42 delegates will be allocated. From originally being considered a close contest, all the market and polling signals point towards a comfortable win for Cruz. The Texas Senator is now rated 87% likely to win at odds of 1.152/13.
Part of the explanation for Trump's receding odds must lie in a series of mis-steps since the Wisconsin campaign began. First last Sunday, this car-crash interview with local talk radio host Charlie Sykes went viral.
***Listen to the viral Wisconsin radio interview that rattled the Trump campaign***
Deriding Trump's 'playground views', Sykes landed more blows than the rest of the media has combined in months, and bolstered the morale of the #NeverTrump movement.
Several media appearances have since gone the same way, with inconsistent positions on both foreign policy and abortion exposed. The latter row - defended as a 'mis-speak' by his surrogates - managed to alienate both pro-life and pro-choice campaigners, and continues to rumble on.
***Watch Donald Trump's damaging exchange on abortion with Chris Matthews***
Likewise, Trump's comments that NATO is obsolete, plus contradictory positions on nuclear weapons have alarmed foreign policy experts. It is certainly not what the GOP establishment want to hear from a would-be Commander In Chief.
Another unforced error came when Trump went back on his previous commitment to not run as a third party candidate. As a result, he could lose the 50 delegates gained in South Carolina.
If the market is right about Wisconsin, Trump will face a steep, improbable climb to 1237. Despite looking set to claim all or at the very least most of New York's 95 delegates on April 19th, his path to 1237 throughout the remaining states is narrowing. It will certainly come down to the final round on June 7th.
It has failed to generate anything like the same publicity or betting drama, but the Democrat race also remains interesting, at least on a state-by-state level. Bernie Sanders has won five of the last six primaries and is rated 87% favourite at odds of 1.152/13 for Wisconsin.
However Sanders' route to the nomination remains highly implausible. Not only does he trail massively in pledged delegates, but if needed to ensure victory at the convention, Clinton can almost certainly rely on a stack of super-delegates. No wonder, therefore, that the former First Lady remains overwhelming favourite at 1.171/6 to win the Democrat Nomination.
Follow me on Twitter @paulmotty and at my website Political Gambler
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