Handicapping candidates after the Iowa shake-up

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter

Just who emerged as the GOP presidential front-runner after the great Iowa mash-up? It’s hard to say with official polling. But if the betting markets are any indication, the newly-entered Rick Perry jumped in far ahead of his competitors.

Intrade and Paddy Power, two websites that take bets on the outcomes of future events, give Perry the best odds of becoming the Republican nominee.

Intrade, a futures trading site where people buy “shares” in a possible future outcome and make money if those bets come true, gives Perry a 38.5 percent chance of emerging as the GOP’s nominee.

Mitt Romney has a 31.5 percent chance, and traders give Michele Bachmann, the winner of this weekend’s Ames Straw Poll, just a 6.8 percent chance of parlaying that success into the GOP nomination.

Paddy Power, a more straightforward gambling website based in Ireland, also gives Perry the best odds, at 11-to-8. Romney’s odds are 9-to-4, and Bachmann is third best at 6-to-1.

Both metrics find Jon Huntsman, who has yet to really distinguish himself in the race, as the fourth-place candidate. (RELATED: Huntsman campaign picks up former T-Paw staffer)

But Barack Obama is still slated to take the whole thing, according to both sites. Paddy Power gives him 4-to-6 odds to return to the White House in 2013. That means it would require a $6 bet to win just $4 if Obama were to win. Perry odds are second best at 7-to-2, and Romney’s 5-to-1 odds round out the top three.

Intrade gives Obama a 52.1 percent chance at re-election, which, while low, is far above any of his competitors. Perry has just a 19.5 percent chance, and Romney a 14.3 percent chance.

Few other contenders are seen as having even a reasonable shot. Newt Gingrich, though, is at least in attractive company: At Paddy Power, he has the same odds of becoming president as Matt Damon: 100-to-1.