Will an odds on favourite go down in Iowa again?

Will an odds on favourite go down in Iowa again?

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    Who’ll come out best in the first test of White House hopefuls?

Just four years ago the person that everybody was talking about for the Democratic nomination in the 2004 White House race was the ex-governor of Vermont, Howard Dean. He had built up a hugely effective fundraising machine which surpassed, even, the sums raised by Bill Clinton in his campaigns.

In the run up to the first electoral test, the Iowa caucus, he was well ahead in the national polls and also had a good margin in the state itself. The betting was all one way – Dean was a hot odds-on favourite.

This year the whole presidential time-table has been changed and Iowa will take place on January 3rd. It is important to understand how the process work. As Wikipedia explains, “..the Iowa caucus operates very differently from the more common primary election used by most other states . The caucus is generally defined as a “gathering of neighbours”. Rather than going to polls and casting ballots, Iowans gather at a set location in each of Iowa’s 1,784 precincts. Typically, these meetings occur in schools, churches, or libraries.”

Participants indicate their support for a particular candidate by standing in a designated area of the caucus site .. Then, for roughly 30 minutes, participants try to convince their neighbours to support their candidates. Each preference group might informally deputize a few members to recruit supporters from the other groups and, in particular, from among those undecided. Undecided participants might visit each preference group to ask its members about their candidate.”

The result is that many of those who attend change their views as a result of discussing the relative merits of the options.

The outcome for Howard Dean last time was devastating. Questions about his personality played a key part, he came in third and his bid never regained any real traction. Those who had backed him down to 1/2 on Betfair for the nominations lost their money.

For me last time Iowa was very profitable but alas it was just about the only money I made on the 2004 race. I had taken a view that Dean was not going to do it and had laid (bet against) him.

This is a massive test for Hillary Clinton and she needs a decisive victory in the caucuses to set her bid off to a good start. But will that happen? How will those discussions go in the 1,784 precincts? Could the mood be that Hillary might not have the same appeal to the country as a whole that she appears to have with democrats?

John Edwards who came second in Iowa last time has been working the state very hard. Alas he’s now slipped into third place in the state polls behind Clinton and Obama.

In the betting Hillary is 0.36/1 to get the nomination. The Republican prices are here. If you think that Hillary is going to go all the way and take the White House then the best market is Betfair “female” president. The 0.92/1 is much better than anything available from the traditional bookies on the overall winner.

Mike Smithson

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