2016 Republican Primaries: You Can’t Stop Donald Trump, You Can Only Hope To Contain Him

Earlier this summer, we released our first preview of the 2016 Presidential Election. At the time, Hillary Clinton was the clear-cut favorite to win the White House at +105 (Sportsbook.com). Since then, not much has changed. The former First Lady and Secretary of State continues to enjoy a large lead over her competitors and has seen her odds drop to even-money at Bovada.

On the Republican side, it’s an entirely different story.  Thanks to the unexpected emergence and meteoric rise of Donald Trump, the entire field has been flipped on its head. Back on July 5th, Trump was listed at +2500 to win the nomination (Bovada) but with each passing week, Trump’s odds have continued to soar.

Why is Trump surging? It would appear as though he has struck a nerve with the Republican base in a way that no other candidate has. He has endeared himself to Conservatives by taking on the “incompetent” politicians in Washington, excoriating the mainstream media and demanding a stricter immigration policy. Amazingly, he has questioned John McCain’s heroism and called Mexican immigrants “rapists,” yet it hasn’t hurt him in the least. In fact, his controversial comments only seem to make him stronger.

Many Republicans are flocking to Trump because he is running as an anti-establishment, anti-politician. He doesn’t attempt to pander or play both sides of an issue. He is so rich that he can’t be bought by special interests. He is beholden to no one: he tells you exactly what he thinks (even if it’s often times very offensive).

Trump’s brutal honesty and politically incorrect style is one of the biggest reasons why he has catapulted to the top of the polls. Simply put, he is a breath of fresh air for many Republicans who have come to despise Washington and politics as usual.

IT’S ALL ABOUT TRUMP

The first GOP Debate, which took place last Thursday night in Cleveland, was the highest-rated primary debate in television history. More than 24-million Americans tuned in. To put this in perspective, just 3.2 million Americans watched the first GOP debate in 2012 (both were hosted by Fox News).

Of course, Trump stole the show.

Trump led all candidates in speaking time (just over 11 minutes) while receiving some of the loudest ovations of any candidate. And despite his disparaging comments about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly (“She had blood coming out of her wherever”), the first NBC News post-debate poll showed Trump at 23%, by far the highest percentage of any Republican candidate (Ted Cruz was second at 13%).

This coincides with a poll taken by The Drudge Report, a favorite publication among Conservatives, which showed Trump as the clear winner of the debate.

Who won the first Republican Debate? (via Drudge)

Candidate Percentage of Votes Number of Votes
Trump 44.67 261,352
Cruz 14.31 83,729
Rubio 10.52 61,559
Carson 8.94 52,307
Paul 6.06 35,476
Kasich 5.28 30,894
Walker 3.49 20,420
Huckabee 3.37 19,714
Bush 2.07 12,112
Christie 1.28 7,487

Oddsmakers seem to validate the findings of both Drudge and ABC. Entering the debate, Trump was listed at +600 to win the nomination (BetOnline). Following the debate, he is down to +500.

Odds to win the Republican Nomination (via BetOnline)

Candidate 8/10/2015 8/5/2015 7/29/2015
Bush +150 +140 +140
Walker +400 +400 +400
Rubio +500 +375 +400
Trump +500 +600 +800
Paul +1600 +1000 +1000
Huckabee +1600 +2000 +2000
Cruz +2000 +2800 +2800
Christie +2500 +2500 +2500
Carson +2800 N/A N/A

**John Kasich’s odds are not listed at BetOnline. He is +1101 at Bookmaker, which gives him the 5th best odds to win the nomination (trailing only Bush, Walker, Rubio and Trump).

Aside from Trump, Ted Cruz (+2800 to +2000) and Mike Huckabee (+2000 to +1600) also saw their odds improve after the first debate. Meanwhile, Jeb Bush (+140 to +150) and Marco Rubio (+375 to +500) saw their odds dip slightly, while Rand Paul stumbled greatly (+1000 to +1600). Both Scott Walker (+400) and Chris Christie (+2500) saw their odds remain stagnant.

In addition to winning the unofficial popular vote as well as seeing his nomination odds rise, Trump also saw his odds of winning the White House improve. He is now +1000, down from +4000 just a month ago (Bovada). This is incredibly impressive, especially when you consider the fact that Trump opened at 200/1 to win the White House just three years ago at Sportsbook.com.

Odds to win the Presidency (via Bovada)

Candidate 7/5/15 7/18/15 8/5/15 8/10/15
Bush +350 +350 +350 +350
Trump +4000 +2500 +1200 +1000
Rubio +800 +900 +1400 +1400
Walker +900 +900 +1200 +1400
Carson +3300 +2500 +2500 +3000
Paul +2500 +4000 +4000 +3000
Kasich +3300 +4000 +4000 +3500
Cruz +3300 +4000 +4000 +4000
Christie +3300 +3300 +4000 +4000
Huckabee +6600 +6600 +10000 +10000

Despite Trump’s skyrocketing numbers, Jeb Bush remains the front-runner to secure the nomination. He also has the best odds of any Republican to win the presidency. Meanwhile, Rubio and Walker, two candidates once considered Bush’s closest competitors, have slipped in recent weeks. Cruz and Huckabee have seen their nomination odds improve, however their odds of winning the presidency have slipped.

If you’re looking for a dark horse, it might be Kentucky Senator Rand Paul or Ohio Governor John Kasich. Both are unique, which gives them a big advantage in a crowded Republican field.

Paul is the only libertarian and “dove” among a plethora of conservative “hawks.” He is also beloved by millennials because he crusades against NSA spying and fights hard to protect civil liberties, most notably the right to privacy. And while his odds of winning the nomination dropped from +1000 to +1600 at BetOnline following the debate, his odds of winning the presidency actually improved from +4000 to +3000 at Bovada.

Kasich also presents a lot of value for bettors. He is a Washington-outsider, which bodes well for him since congressional approval is at an all-time low (less than 10% of Americans approve of congress). He is also a more moderate figure compared to his competitors and is one of the only GOP candidates to expand health insurance under Obamacare or attend a same-sex wedding. Kasich also hails from the critically important swing state of Ohio, which can’t be overlooked. Kasich is also trending in the right direction — following the debate, his presidential odds improved from +4000 to +3500 at Bovada.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Is the Trump bubble bound to burst? Or will he continue to rise in the coming months as the primary season heats up?

One thing to keep in mind: Trump has not ruled out the possibility of running as a third party candidate. So even if someone like Bush, Rubio or Walker ends up securing the nomination, that still might not spell the end of The Donald.

In recent months, books seem to have started preparing for this possibility. Back in May, Bookmaker listed the odds of a third party candidate winning the White House at +5000. That number is now down to +3832.

Of course, this is music to Democrats’ ears, because if Trump runs as a third party candidate he will split the Republican votes, just as Ross Perot did in 1992, paving the way for another Clinton victory. It’s also worth noting that, despite running as a Democrat, Bernie Sanders is actually registered as an Independent. Although it’s highly unlikely that Sanders would railroad Hillary Clinton by running as a third party candidate, it is another factor to consider when analyzing this line movement.

Do you think there’s any value in the Republican Primary betting market? Are any candidates offering value? Can Donald Trump continue to lead the polls? Please leave your thoughts and comments in the section below.

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Josh Appelbaum

Josh Appelbaum is the Customer Service Manager, Affiliate Manager and Political Expert for Sports Insights. He can be reached at joshua@sportsinsights.com.

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