Cruz gains in online betting but Trump still the Republican favorite

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 02, 2016 1:07 AM

(Reuters) - Ted Cruz's Super Tuesday victories in his home state of Texas and neighboring Oklahoma strengthened his odds for the Republican presidential nomination on online betting sites, but he still trails far behind party front-runner Donald Trump.

On PredictIt, operated by Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, the U.S. senator from Texas' predicted chances of winning the nomination for the Nov. 8 election rose to 10 percent as results from Super Tuesday voting, continued to be tallied.

Cruz has gained 4 points in the past two days and his predicted chances stood at the highest level on the site since he tumbled to a record low after a weak showing in the South Carolina primary on Feb 20.

But Trump, who rolled to at least seven wins on Super Tuesday, was outdistancing both Cruz and his other top rival, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. PredictIt had Trump’s odds of winning the nomination at 76 percent early on Wednesday, down 4 points from Monday’s record high of 80 percent.

Rubio, who scored his first win in a nominating contest on Tuesday with the Minnesota Republican caucuses, dropped 1 point to 10 percent, a record low for him.

Betting volumes on both Trump and Cruz hit records for the candidates on Tuesday, and Rubio's volume was his second highest ever.

Other online betting venues also gave Trump, a New York billionaire businessman, the strongest odds of winning the nomination. Ireland’s PaddyPower put Trump as a 1-to-7 favorite, with Rubio following at 5-to-1 and Cruz at 12-to-1.

Message boards associated with PredictIt featured growing discussion of a possible brokered convention, which can occur when no candidate has won a clear majority of delegates before the start of the party convention.

There has not been a brokered U.S. major-party convention since 1952 when the Democrats nominated Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson on the third ballot. The last brokered Republican convention was in 1948, when New York Governor Thomas Dewey also won in three ballots. Neither candidate won the presidential election.

"I am betting against Trump getting the nomination at these odds, but only because I think there is a 30 percent chance the GOP elite somehow successfully blocks him at the convention," said a post from a forum member with the username matthewcooley.

"He's definitely going to crush everyone at the voting booth, it's just a matter of getting to 50 percent of all the bound delegates."

(Reporting by Dan Burns in Washington; Editing by Peter Cooney)