2016 Republican Primaries: The Rise of Marco Rubio (And Fall of Jeb Bush)

Welcome to the latest installment of our ongoing 2016 Betting Series.

In previous posts, we have detailed the opening odds for each presidential candidate, examined the “invincibility” of Donald Trump and highlighted the unexpected ascent of Carly Fiorina.

This time, we turn our attention to the third Republican presidential debate to determine which candidates bolstered their odds and which candidates fell off the pace.

THE RISE OF MARCO RUBIO

Similar to the Democratic race, which has morphed into a two-candidate grudge-match between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the once-sprawling Republican field has been whittled down to a small handful of presidential hopefuls.

Trump continues to lead many of the national polls; however, his 2016 odds have largely leveled out, raising questions about whether “Trumpmania” has peaked and is now on the descent.

While Trump appears to be treading water, Florida Senator Marco Rubio has surged in recent weeks.

Until recently, Rubio has flown under the radar for much of the campaign. He hasn’t made many unforced errors or gaffes, but he also hasn’t made any positive headlines either. He seems to be playing the long game, allowing his competitors to hog the spotlight and then waiting for them to inevitably crash and burn.

However, after the third debate, which took place last week in Colorado, it’s clear that Rubio can no longer be overlooked or underestimated. Thanks to his strong debate performance, he is now being viewed as a frontrunner and one of the only legitimate alternatives to Trump.

Rubio, whom some have dubbed “the Republican Obama,” is an appealing candidate for several reasons. Unlike many of his competitors, he is youthful, energetic and optimistic. He is also the only Hispanic candidate in the race, which bodes well for him since Republicans historically struggle with the Latino vote.  In addition, Rubio hails from Florida, a critically important swing state that could end up deciding the election.

Entering the debate, Rubio was listed as the co-favorite (tied with Trump at +225) to win the nomination at Bovada. Following the debate, Rubio improved to +150, while Trump slipped slightly to +240.

Odds to win the Republican Nomination (Bovada)

Candidate Post-Debate (11/2/15) Pre-Debate (10/26/15)
Rubio +150 +225
Trump +240 +225
Cruz +600 +1200
Carson +900 +375
Bush +1000 +500
Christie +2000 +2500
Fiorina +2500 +2000
Kasich +2500 +2500

In addition to seeing his nomination odds improve, Rubio also saw his odds of winning the White House move from +600 to +550. He is now tied with Trump for the best 2016 odds of any Republican candidate.

Odds to Win the White House (Bovada)

Candidate Post-Debate (11/2/15) Pre-Debate (10/26/15)
Rubio +550 +600
Trump +550 +500
Cruz +2000 +3300
Carson +2000 +1000
Bush +2500 +1200
Christie +3300 +5000
Fiorina +7500 +4000
Kasich +7500 +7500

It’s interesting to note that the rise of Rubio also coincides with the dramatic downfall of Jeb Bush.

Once considered a frontrunner with the best shot at upsetting Clinton, the former Florida Governor has fallen further than any other major candidate in recent weeks.

Back in August, Bush still had the best odds of any Republican to win the White House (+350). Since then, his odds plummeted all the way to +2500.

Odds to Win the White House (Bovada)

Candidate 11/2/15 10/31/15 8/5/15 10/26/15 10/21/15 9/22/15 8/29/15
Bush +2500 +1600 +350 +1200 +800 +600 +500

Not only has Bush struggled in the debates but he’s also appeared apathetic and joyless on the campaign trail. The constant jabs from Trump seem to be getting under Bush’s skin as well. Recently, Bush admitted “I’ve got a lot of really cool things I could do” other than running for president, a comment that may end up sealing his fate as a doomed candidate.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Does Rubio have what it takes to win the nomination and defeat Hillary? Are you sticking with Trump to Make America Great Again? Can Bush turn it around? Or will you be taking a shot with Cruz or Carson?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments 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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