There are now less than 72 hours of campaigning left in the race for the White House. Years of work and millions of volunteer hours come down to the next three days, and if the Betfair markets are anything to go by this is Barack Obama's race to lose at this stage of the game.
The President is [1.3] to win re-election, that price having lengthened significantly in the last week on the back of Hurricane Sandy and the overwhelmingly positive response to his handling of the crisis. A poll for the Washington Post and ABC News showed eight in 10 voters thought the President had done an "excellent" or "good" job in handling Sandy, and even two-thirds of voters said to support Romney next week thought he had done a good job. The impact on independents will be crucial and clearly this is likely to be positive, hence the market move in the President's favour.
Taking a look at the Betfair markets for the key states that will decide this race and we have another picture that points to an Obama victory. His market position in all six swing states he led in earlier this week have been strengthened, and whilst Romney still looks a strong bet in Florida, the market confidence has been slightly eroded.
Obama favourite in Betfair markets:
• Ohio: Obama [1.31] (in from [1.46] on Tuesday)
• Colorado: Obama [1.7] (in from [1.93] on Tuesday)
• Iowa: Obama [1.33] (in from [1.5] on Tuesday)
• Wisconsin: Obama [1.19] (in from [1.33] on Tuesday)
• Virginia: Obama [1.76] (in from [1.81] on Tuesday)
• New Hampshire: Obama [1.43] (in from [1.55] on Tuesday)
Romney favourite in Betfair markets:
• Florida: Romney [1.59] (out from [1.48] on Tuesday)
• North Carolina: Romney [1.32] (virtually no change since Tuesday, [1.31])
The polls, too, reflect this picture almost perfectly, with Virginia the only disagreement between the two: (Source: RealClearPoliticsaverages)
• Ohio: Obama +2.9
• Colorado: Obama +1.0
• Iowa: Obama +2.0
• Wisconsin: Obama +5.4
• Virginia: Romney +0.3
• New Hampshire: Obama +1.8
• Florida: Florida +1.4
• North Carolina: Romney +3.8
That said, only Wisconsin (10 Electoral College votes) and North Carolina (15 Electoral College votes) lie outside the typical polling margin of error of three percent. So, while the polling points to a very tight race that is almost impossible to call, the Betfair market suggests the president will win this by a couple of touchdowns.
Whilst Obama is undoubtedly the clear favourite heading into Tuesday's poll, I do not think he will deliver all six swing states in which he currently holds the favourite tag on Betfair, whilst I do believe Romney will deliver Florida and North Carolina. However, the states I see most likely to cause an upset - Colorado ([2.32] for Romney), New Hampshire ([3.15] for Romney) and Virginia ([2.22] for Romney) - do not deliver enough Electoral College votes to take Romney over the top, at just 26 between them.
If those dropped for Romney, in addition to Florida and North Carolina, the Governor wins 261 Electoral College votes to 277 for Obama. What that means, and this is where it would get interesting, is that it takes just one additional upset to yield a Romney victory. He could win any of Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan or Pennsylvania and he would win. The latter three look tough asks, but Ohio remains a toss-up.
Ultimately, it would seem sensible in a betting context to turn our attentions to the state-by-state markets at this stage, as with so much uncertainty when we look at the detail President Obama does not represent value in the outright market. That market could, however, come alive in-play on Tuesday night due to the knife-edge on which things currently sit.
So be on your game come midnight UK time on Tuesday!