Who won the Republican debate, and who lost? While pundits may speculate wildly and focus group polls could offer some insight, according to those willing to put their money where their mouth is, the answer is clear: [crscore]Marco Rubio[/crscore] won a decisive victory, and Jeb Bush may very well be finished.
PredictIt is a successor to InTrade, which drew major attention during the 2012 presidential race before being shut down for dubious financial practices. The site is a so-called “Prediction Market,” where participants bet on future events by buying “shares” that reflect them happening or not happening. When the event is resolved, shares are paid out at $1 apiece if the prediction was right, but become worthless if the prediction was wrong. As a result, a share’s price roughly corresponds to an event’s likelihood of happening, based on the knowledge of bettors.
PredictIt, then, serves as a useful way of gauging how people really think the GOP race is going. While it’s easy for pundits to say that a candidate is a “lock” for the nomination or utterly doomed, PredictIt and sites like it have their odds determined by those willing to put their money where their mouth is.
One of the most popular prediction markets is for the Republican presidential nomination, with hundreds of thousands of shares being traded for the major candidates. Wednesday’s debate saw huge swings for several Republican candidates.
The biggest winner on PredictIt was Rubio, who saw a huge boost over the course of the debate as he skillfully parried attacks from the moderators and Bush over his personal finances and his Senate attendance record. Going into the debate, Rubio’s PredictIt share price for winning the Republican nomination stood at 42 cents. By Thursday morning, his share price had soared to 53 cents, before dropping a bit back to 51 cents. In other words, bettors think Rubio’s debate performance boosted his odds of winning the Republican nomination by at least 9 percent, all by itself. (RELATED: Rubio Rattles Jeb: ‘Someone Convinced You That Attacking Me Will Help You’)
Another Republicans who saw smaller gains during and after the debate was Chris Christie, who surged from about 8 cents to as high as 14 cents.
While [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore] has been touted as Wednesday’s big winner after his aggressive criticism of media bias, PredictIt isn’t convinced yet. He went into the debate with his shares at 21 cents, and while he briefly rose to about 25 cents this morning, he’s rapidly dropped back down to where he started. Similarly, Ben Carson and Donald Trump saw little change from their pre-debate odds.
Wednesday night’s big loser? Bush. Despite his many campaign setbacks, PredictIt had remained relatively bullish on Bush’s chances, and he went into the debate with his shares still valued at 28 cents, ahead of everybody except Rubio. But after his performance, which included a bungled effort to attack Rubio for his Senate attendance record, bettors rapidly soured on Bush. His shares tumbled all the way down to 11 cents, before recovering somewhat this morning to about 13 cents as of noon today. In other words, one bad debate performance has dropped Bush’s odds of winning the nomination by about one-half, if not more.
The other big loser on PredictIt may be more surprising. Carly Fiorina went into the debate fluctuating around 13 cents, but dropped to just 5 cents in the immediate aftermath before stabilizing at 7 cents. Fiorina’s drop may reflect a failure to deliver any of the strong blows that made her a media darling after the first and second GOP debates.
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