Debate causes big changes in presidential election odds

Oct 4, 2012 |
Game on?

We won’t have hard numbers for a few days, but Barack Obama’s lackluster performance in the first of three debates with Republican nominee Mitt Romney may have taken a slice out the president’s ironclad lead in the polls. And it has certainly has caused bettors to second a second look at the challenger.

Obama’s intrade.com prediction market numbers plummeted a startling 8.3 percent overnight. Prior to the debate Obama’s odds of winning re-election were at 75 percent, with Romney backed by only 25 percent of the wagerers. But the numbers changed as it was clear that Obama was not on top of his game and at 11 a.m. Eastern Time today, the president had fallen to 66.7 percent backing, with Romney bolting up to 34.3 percent.

Interestingly, Obama’s standing this year is exactly where he was in early October 2008, when he was in the midst of a successful campaign against Republican John McCain. Intrade spokesman Carl Wolfenden points out that Obama was at 48.8 percent in mid-September, climbed to 67 percent at this point in 2008, and by mid-October had vaulted to a stunning 84.4 percent.

“At this point four years ago,” said Wolfenden, “[Obama] was in the middle of his upward swing toward election day.”

This time around it appears that the president will have to bail out the canoe to regain momentum that had produced leads in just about every significant poll. It remains to be seen how much poll numbers will slip, although some give-back seems inevitable considering his often-meandering performance in front of 50 million viewers on Tuesday night.

Not all offshore sites had revised numbers listed this morning, but the posted odds at Ladbrokes indicated that bettors are not quite as enamored with the president’s chances. Pre-debate Obama was 1/7 and Romney 9/2; those numbers are now ¼ and 3/1, respectively. At sportsbook.ag,
Obama’s odds fell from ¼ to 5/12, with Romney’s improving from 16/5 to 2/1.

The other debates are scheduled for Oct. 16 and Oct. 22, but before then the Democrats have to dodge another land mine when gaffe-prone Vice President Joe Biden takes on GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan on Oct. 11.

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