After months of watching the GOP civil war unfold live at the TV debates, the latest one from Miami came as something of a culture shock.
On what could plausibly be the last one, or at least the last involving more than two candidates, everyone was civil and policy-focused. There was no obvious winner or loser, which must be good news for the front-runner.
Coupled with the endorsement of Ben Carson, this was undoubtably a good night for Donald Trump, who remains overwhelming 1.43 (70%) favourite for the nomination. I suspect those odds will get even shorter in the next few days.
However that doesn’t mean hostilities have ceased away from the debate stage. Far from it. There is a battle royale going on ahead of next Tuesday’s series of pivotal primaries, that will determine the fate of at least two of the four remaining candidacies.
Before getting to them, though, a reminder of the bets announced on Twitter earlier this week.
New bet: Laid (opposed) another 10 units of Donald Trump @ 5.4 for next president (doubling weekend position) https://t.co/a8kpZKT2Ov
— Political Gambler (@paulmotty) March 8, 2016
New bets: Backed @tedcruz 20 units @ 7.4 for GOP Nominee, 10 units @ 30 for President: Odds are wrong. expect to lay back in next few days.
— Political Gambler (@paulmotty) March 9, 2016
First, I’ve added to my weekend lay of Trump for the Presidency. The latest polls confirm what I’ve said throughout – if Trump is the nominee, he will be thrashed by Hillary Clinton in November. Laying in this market, rather than the nomination, gives me two chances to get him beaten.
Secondly, I’ve pressed up on Ted Cruz for both nomination and presidency – although note this is more of a strategic trade than a tip to win either. Prior to these bets my position on Cruz was 10 units profit if he doesn’t become the nominee, 260 units if he does. Now my total risk on him is 20 units, to yield 388 profit if becomes the nominee, plus a further 300 if he becomes president. The plan, as I’ll explain shortly, is to lay that all back in the weeks ahead.
So where next? In my view, Trump will win Florida and therefore all 99 delegates up for grabs in that state. That will knock out Marco Rubio.
Ohio, alternatively, is much harder to call. The polls there are contradictory, and it looks very close between Trump and John Kasich.
Notably, Cruz appears to be making very little effort in those states – belatedly recognising he can only hurt Trump’s rival, and therefore himself. Instead, he’ll focus efforts on Missouri’s winner-takes-all contest and the proportional races in North Carolina and Illinois.
I strongly suspect the outcome on Tuesday will be Trump getting the most delegates, with Cruz second, thus strengthening the idea of this becoming a two-man race. Kasich must win Ohio to stay in and alter that narrative.
It is in this scenario that I plan to lay Cruz back. My hope is that he will shorten in the market to at least 5, offering the chance of a sizeable cash out profit.
That isn’t to say he can’t win. The two-man race scenario has been hypothetical to date. Most polls testing it suggest Cruz wins such a contest. However I fear that the others have stayed in too long to prevent Trump having the most delegates, so any Cruz route to victory would have to be via a contested convention.
On that front, Betfair have now opened a market on whether the Republican Convention will be contested, which could offer a great chance to cover existing positions later in the race. Remember we also have a position on Speaker Paul Ryan at 400 – which has been matched as low as 50 in recent days.
So ideally, this race soon becomes headed for a near-certain contested convention, between Trump/Cruz and maybe Kasich, plus a potential new entrant, of whom Ryan is inevitably a popular candidate.