Thursday, December 24, 2015

The smart money is moving from Rubio to Cruz but the endorsements aren't

In a footnote to Ben Carson sings "One Wittle Wee Wee," I wrote that "The smart money is still on Rubio to beat Trump."  That started changing a couple of weeks ago, when Rubio's chances fell below 40% and Cruz passed Trump.  A month ago, PredictWise's aggregate of betting markets gave Rubio a 47% chance of winning the nomination.  Trump was second and well behind at 19% with Cruz at 13% and Bush at 10%.  Monday, Paul Krugman included the above chart in Where’s The Rubiomentum?  As of Wednesday, Cruz continued to gain on Rubio, rising to 27% while Rubio remained at 35% and Trump actually dropped a bit to 23%.  Meanwhile, Bush is still stuck at 10% and Christie has replaced Carson in the top five, improving to 5%.

Krugman expressed his skepticism of Rubio's odds, writing "I’m not a huge believer in prediction markets, which seem more to reflect conventional wisdom than to offer profound insights."*  Just the same, he mentioned that "it’s noteworthy that they are less and less convinced that Rubio is really a front-runner, and now take both Trump and Cruz seriously."  I saw that last month as well and I opined that it's not a good thing.

The bettors may be losing confidence in Rubio, but elected Republican officials aren't.  During the most recent debate, FiveThirtyEight posted this graph showing how many endorsements GOP candidates had earned by debate time.

Rubio has earned even more since then and is within 10 points of Bush.  Meanwhile, Ted Cruz has only been inching up.  The people making wagers may think that Rubio is losing steam, but the party establishment is still boarding the Rubio bandwagon faster than any other candidate.  If one is a fan of "The Party Decides," like the writers at FiveThirtyEight, then this is a good thing for Marco Rubio.  Of course, the party may decide on Cruz.  If so, Krugman is looking forward to the outcome.  As he wrote, "it will be fun watching supposedly moderate Republicans explain why Trump or Cruz are, in the end, better than Hillary."

*Krugman's comment mirrors what Infidel 753 wrote in a response to a comment of mine at his blog.
I don't have the slightest interest in online betting markets on elections. The fact that people are willing to put up money based on their opinions doesn't mean they have any more knowledge or expertise than anyone else -- only that they're probably as dumb as most gamblers are.
I have more confidence in the usefulness of prediction markets, but that's because of my experience with the Iowa Electronic Market, which goes back to 1992.  I've found it very reliable.


  1. I've been twitter-battling pro-Rubio people, bringing up how Rubio's actual polling numbers do not look good, and that going by previous polling trends for 2012 being in third/fourth place in the polls usually puts you third/fourth place with actual primary results.
    I even made a new bumper sticker just now: STOP TRYING TO MAKE MARCO RUBIO HAPPEN HE'S NOT GONNA HAPPEN ;)

    1. "Stop trying to make Rubio happen. He's not going to happen." Yeah, I read that on your blog last week. Honestly, I think Rubio is eight years too early. I told a student a couple of months ago that I thought 2024 would be a Booker-Rubio match-up. That could still happen, although I might substitute Julian Castro or Gavin Newsome for Corey Booker.

      As for this time around, Rubio needs both Trump and Cruz to collapse and the establishment to stage a coup. Republicans don't have superdelegates per se the way Democrats do, but they have the equivalent and they could tip Rubio or one of the other establishment candidates over the top in a close or brokered convention.

    2. Well, as I was in a festive mood, I made other bumper stickers :)

    3. Thanks for posting those. After you wrote that you had made the Rubio one, I was wondering where it was.

    4. as for the actual GOP horse race, until the primaries genuinely start there's no guarantee. But the polling all points to Trump getting most of the early states (good GOD, Trump's leading in Florida with Cruz jumping to second, and if he wins enough of the winner-take-all ones (Florida is, OH GOD NO) this whole thing becomes a disaster not even a brokered convention could (illegally) fix.

    5. takes awhile to get into CorelDraw, bring up an earlier one to edit, re-type something funny, change the font for some to apply to the situation, save, export to JPG, upload to blog. Hardest part is the punchline...

    6. Rubio and Jeb! not being able to win their home state is likely to be a big blow, and the one who falls behind the other will likely bow out (so long, Jeb!).

      As for not being able to fix the mess in a brokered convention legally, have you ever been a delegate to a party convention? I have. It's pretty amazing what a clever application of the rules can do, especially if the person they're being applied to isn't particularly up on them and isn't interested in playing along. I've seen it up close and personal, so I wouldn't be surprised if the state party officers and federal elected officials don't try something should the opportunity presents itself, and that was on the Democratic side.

      The Republicans are worse, even here in Michigan. When the delegates were awarded after the 2012 primary, the rules were changed after the election so that Romney got the majority instead of splitting them evenly with Santorum. It happened again when Michigan's Secretary of State kept the Libertarian candidate off the ballot. Then again, you're in Florida; you know what took place in your home state in 2000. If the party leadership can get the result they want, I expect they will.

    7. "Hardest part is the punchline"--written like a true comedian. :-)