The chance that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee fell since last week after Newt Gingrich beat him by 12 points in Saturday’s South Carolina primary. After the primary, Romney fell behind Gingrich in the polls both nationally and in Florida, where the next primary is being held. While the number of people who have a favorable opinion of Romney has been relatively constant, the number who have an unfavorable opinion of him has increased substantially since the end of last year.
But bettors at political futures market Intrade still consider Romney the heavy favorite, giving him a nearly 85% chance to win the nomination. The reason for that is simple: Gingrich may have more passionate supporters than Romney, but he is still one of the least liked politicians in the country. Nearly 55% of Americans say they don’t like him, compared to just 27% who say they do. With a net favorable rating of -27, Gingrich is one of the least popular politicians ever to make a serious run at the presidency. That’s something the Romney campaign is trying to capitalize on in Florida with a new series of nasty mailers characterizing Gingrich as “unethical,” “erratic,” and “reckless.”
Meanwhile, Intrade gives President Obama a 55% chance of winning the general election, 4 points more than a week ago. That probably as has more to do with increasing optimism about the economy and rising approval of his economic policythan it does with his performance in the State of the Union. The fact that Obama is likely to face either Romney or Gingrich in the general election only helps Obama’s chances.
Political Futures Markets
Chance President Obama will win reelection: 55.1% (Intrade)
Chance Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination: 84.9% (Intrade)
Chance that Republicans will win control of the Senate: 75.0% (Intrade)
Chance that Republicans will maintain control of the House: 70.9% (Intrade)
President Obama’s approval rating: 45.6% (Pollster)
Mitt Romney’s favorable rating: 35.2% (Pollster)
Democratic advantage on a generic congressional ballot: 1.8% (Real Clear Politics)
“Mitt Romney will find it very hard to beat Barack Obama because of what Barack Obama will do to him. Newt Gingrich will find it very hard to beat Barack Obama because of what Newt Gingrich will do to himself. That’s the simple truth. Both men will have amazingly difficult times beating Barack Obama.”—Erick Erickson