Intrade Post-Nevada: "Newt Dakota" and Other Thoughts on the Race for the GOP Nomination
Following the Florida Primary on Jan. 31 and the Nevada Caucus on Feb. 4, it appears that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is further tightening his grip on being the GOP presidential nominee to face off against Pres. Barack Obama in the November general election. One might say at first glance that Romney has all but sealed the Republican nomination at this point. Nevertheless, according to the Wall Street Journal's 2012 Election Delegate Tracker, Romney holds a total of 101 delegates. In comparison, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has 32 delegates total, former US Sen. Rick Santorum has 17 delegates total, and Rep. Ron Paul has a total of 9 delegates.
In the aftermath of the Florida primary, it would appear that despite Gingrich's stellar aspirations of putting an American colony on the moon trying to appeal to the space coast, Romney gained the upper hand. And to think that I was already trying to come up with a possible name for the United States' 51st state on the moon! "Gingrichsylvania", "Puerto Newto", or "Newtucky"? No, I think I would have to credit my father for coming up with the most innovative name for a possible 51st state on the moon: Newt Dakota. When my Dad mentioned "Newt Dakota" as a possible name for a US State on the moon, that was the end of the lunar colony naming contest for me. If the US ever does establish a colony on the moon, I hope they name it "Newt Dakota"; I even have some ideas already for a possible flag for Newt Dakota. And to be fair, as much as many way want to laugh at Gingrich for suggesting that the US should pursue a permanent settlement on the moon (to the point of being a 51st state), I would imagine that most Americans would not feel too proud or pleased with the sight of China's or Russia's having a permanent lunar colony on the moon. Such developments could possibly foster a Zeitgeist of considerable cultural disappointment and negativity in the American populace.
Whereas the threshold for the GOP nomination is 1,144 delegates, it would appear that the race is far from over. Even so, early contests are crucial as candidates attempt to seal the frontrunner position as we approach Super Tuesday on March 6, 2012. Among ten states' contests, 437 delegates will be up for grabs on Super Tuesday. Post-Nevada, the next major contest in the race for the GOP nomination will be Feb. 7 with 128 delegates at stake between Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado.
Despite Romney's victories in the Florida Primary, Gingrich has said that he plans to continue his campaign. According to the Washington Times' Ralph Z. Hallow, "Newt Gingrich will stay in the Republican presidential nomination contest" despite an expected and realized loss in Nevada. According to Hallow's article, Gingrich has said that "Super Tuesday and beyond look good."
In determining the viability of Gingrich's campaign, political commentator Craig Crawford wrote a blog on Feb. 2 discussing that "Newt's Fantasy Campaign software needs an upgrade if he is to go on. ...After badly losing the Nevada caucuses reality seemed to creep into his thinking, suggesting that even he knows his quest has become largely theoretical." Whereas Gingrich's new strategy seems to be finding "a series of victories which by the the end of the Texas primary [the Texas primary is on April 3, 2012] will leave" Gingrich at parity with Romney, Crawford expressed skepticism in the idea that meat-and-potatoes Americans are waiting for Gingrich in the coming primaries. Crawford: "That might be true, but there's no proof those voters are waiting to vote for Gingrich -- except in his fantasy world."
Though Romney is currently the frontrunner, Gingrich maintains that "The vast majority of Republicans across the country are going to want an alternative to a Massachusetts moderate." From an independent perspective, Gingrich may have a point; Americans do love an underdog after all. To be fair, I would have expected more Republicans to support Gingrich merely for the sake of being able to see Gingrich debate Pres. Obama on live national television; I think that would be an entertaining debate. As for Romney's debating Obama, I think the topic of Obamacare could be problematic, and I have my doubts as to whether a Romney-Obama debate would as entertaining, intense, and exciting as a Gingrich-Obama debate. What, with football season over now, we have to look forward to watching something on TV, right?
In terms of the predictions market Intrade, as of the writing of this story Mitt Romney has an 86.4 percent chance of being the GOP presidential nominee. Comparatively, Santorum's chance is 3.1 percent, Gingrich's is 4.2 percent, and Paul's is 3.1 percent. Even if the candidates trying to catch up to Romney believe that they still have a chance at securing the nomination, Intrade's current markets suggest that the race is all but over. Romney leads the next closest GOP contender by 80 percentage points in terms of the percentage chance of being the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.
As for being elected president in 2012, as of the writing of this story Pres. Obama's chance is currently 57.4 percent, up from below 50 percent in October 2011. Obama's chances of being re-elected have steadily climbed since mid-January 2012. In comparison, Romney's chance of being elected president is currently 37.1, dropping from 38 percent on Sunday, Paul's chance is 1 percent, rising from 0.7 percent on Sunday, Gingrich's chance is 1.4 percent, and Santorum's chance is 1.3 percent. To say the least, these numbers do not bode well for the GOP going into the spring.
The good news for traders regarding these current Intrade numbers is that they could suggest possible trading opportunities with respect to predictions contracts. If the GOP candidates refuse to get out of the race, there could possibly be substantial fluctuations in the Intrade market. Despite Romney's formidable frontrunner status, one cannot help but notice a lingering GOP Zeitgeist suggesting that voters are looking for a new candidate to enter the race. Whereas Gingrich or Santorum may be hoping that a juicy piece of news against Romney comes out in the near future thereby allowing a conservative alternative to take the lead, Romney has done well to keep his nose clean; as Romney appears to come from a solid background with a wholesome family life, a scandal involving a mistress or an affair is probably unlikely. As news has already come out regarding Romney's taxes, his experience with Bain Capital, and offshore accounts, it also appears unlikely that a new business-related financial scandal could come out in the future.
Romney's strength in terms of securing the GOP nomination rests in the fact that he has achieved frontrunner status and has raised a significant amount of money for campaigning. In light of Intrade, whether Republicans like it or not, Romney is now pretty much the last man standing. In comparison, Gingrich's and Santorum's strength rests in the fact that they are underdogs, and Americans love an underdog. Gingrich has considerable financial support from wealthy benefactor Sheldon Adelson, but there is reason to believe that Adelson could shift his support to Romney in the near future. Even in light of Adelson, it would appear that Gingrich's and Santorum's amount of campaign funds are not enough to viably compete with Romney on a national scale. Thus, in light of the above, Intrade's numbers may have the situation on the mark with the idea that the race for the 2012 Republican nomination is already over. But even worse for the GOP and Republican voters looking for anybody-but-Obama to win in November, in light of Intrade's current numbers, it would appear that the race for the White House may be already over as well.
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