Presidential odds tight as America heads to the polls

Nov 6, 2012 |
Are we headed for another election night like 2000?

George W. Bush’s election 12 years ago, a decision that was not clinched until the Supreme Court squashed a Florida recount more than a month after ballots were cast, is not likely to be repeated today. But every national poll, plus many polls in battleground states which will be decisive, portend a close race with neither candidate having enough sizzle to win going away.

Still, in the betting world, there are signs that Barack Obama is heading toward another term.

Intrade.com, the Ireland-based exchange market, sees a victory for President Obama. As of 8 a.m. ET this morning, Obama’s chances of re-election had jumped 5.3 percent and stood at 73.5 percent – and rising. Republican challenger Mitt Romney was at 27.5 percent - and dropping (Four years ago Obama was at more than 80 percent to defeat John McCain, and won going away).

Over the last few days, offshore sites reflected a sharp turn toward Obama after several weeks of stability. In Great Britain, Williamhill.com has made the president a 1-7 favorite, tightened from 2-7 Sunday. Romney’s odds lengthened to 9-2 from 11-4.

Paddypower.com
went from 1-4 to 1-5 on the president, and from 3-1 to 7-2 on Romney. The sportsbook actually paid out more than $800,000 on Obama earlier this week, confidently claiming the President the winner and honoring all bets on Obama despite the closeness of the race.

At fellow online book, Sportbook.ag, 75 percent of the money over the past 24 hours has been on Obama, moving his odds from -300 to -400 and boosting Romney to +300 odds.

No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio, and both candidates have camped out in the state over the last few months. Most independent polls taken in the state have shown a small but persistent Obama lead, in the range of three to four points. Republican-leaning Rasmussen has it at a dead heat, while SurveyUSA has Obama up five points. Intrade bettors have Obama at 71 percent to win Ohio.

Romney’s path to the needed 270 electoral votes becomes significantly more narrow if he doesn’t carry Ohio. He would need to take Florida and North Carolina (doable), Virginia (possible), and grab a few other battleground states such as Wisconsin (won’t happen), Iowa (no chance), Colorado (possible) and Nevada (possible but not likely). New Hampshire, which usually votes Republican but has trended Democratic recently, has only four electoral votes and the spotlight is not as bright there.

And if that isn’t enough, there is concern with voting fraud. With the race so tight and echoes of 2000 already being heard, armies of lawyers are on retainer and ready to contest results in battleground states.

There have been problems with early voting in Florida, where they just can’t seem to get it right. As Russian dictator Josef Stalin once famously said: “It’s not the people who vote that count. It’s the people that count the votes.”

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