We’re already on Ted Cruz to be the Republican nominee. Backing Marco Rubio now is the perfect cover.
As promised when advising this bet on Twitter yet, some more detailed reasoning. Even after banking a profit from my initial position on Cruz, he could net a further 250 units profit. It makes perfect sense to cover on the man I believe will be his main rival.
— Political Gambler (@paulmotty) January 31, 2016
Thanks to the market surge for Donald Trump, Rubio is at his biggest odds for some time. Yet as explained in my final verdict on the Iowa Caucus, Trump’s favorability numbers are terrible, way behind both Cruz and Rubio. As I argued in my wide-ranging analysis for Politico last year, favorability is the key number to watch, ahead of the inevitable winnowing of the GOP field.
It seems certain that Rubio will be in the thick of that battle, and he will be extremely well-financed. Among that final group, he would be a much stronger General Election candidate than Trump, and probably than Cruz. This must matter.
There’s no question that, in organisational terms, Rubio is late to the party. He’s been criticised for a lack of visibility in the early swing states, compared to other rivals on the mainstream wing of the GOP.
His event in Ames yesterday was low-key compared to Cruz. The crowd mostly arrived late and, from my conversations, included virtually no committed supporters. This was a crowd of undecideds, checking out a frontline candidate, probably for the first time.
They greeted Rubio enthusiastically, but not fervently. Yet this crowd loved everything he had to say, just as focus groups have after TV debates. I went away certain that he had won new converts and sealed the deal with many undecideds.
It is probably too late to win Iowa, but he is booked for clear third place at least. That will generate momentum going to New Hampshire and I expect some current Jeb Bush supporters to switch. Maybe Chris Christie and John Kasich too.
Finally, why back him for the Presidency rather than nomination? Simply the odds. 8.4 in the former market compared to 3.2 in the latter implies Rubio would be more than 2.5 in a head-to-head with a Democrat. As arguably the most electable GOP candidate that strikes me as much too big.