OBAMA FAVORED OVER MCCAIN



In a display of rare patience, more than three years after the first future book was posted, 16 months since the start of the campaign, and 54 primaries and caucuses later, some politically savvy Presidential election betting fans finally moved closer to cashing a ticket when Barack Obama secured the Democratic Party nomination to face Republican John McCain in the race for the White House in November.

Obama, a first-term Senator from Illinois who debuted on a February, 2005 future book as the 40th (yes, 40th) choice to be elected President at a price of 100/1, is poised to beat enormous odds if he is able to defeat McCain in November. McCain, who in 2000 ran unsuccessfully for the Republican Presidential nomination against George W. Bush, opened as the leading Republican and second choice overall in futures at odds of 7/1. The overall favorite in the future book was New York Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton, at odds of 6/1. Clinton battled Obama to the end of the primary season before finally losing the delegate fight on June 3.

Besides Clinton, future book ducats were discarded on former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) (8/1); Senator George Allen (R) (15/1), whose Presidential aspirations were dashed when he lost his Virginia Senate seat to Democrat Jim Webb in 2006; former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) (20/1); former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) (20/1); New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D) (20/1); Indiana Senator Evan Bayh (D) (20/1); former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) (25/1); and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R) (25/1).

Even if you're not one of those astute (more likely, lucky) bettors holding a 100/1 future book bet on Obama or a much more modest 7/1 on McCain, it's not too late too wade into the Presidential wagering waters.

Obama opened as the -200 favorite (bet $200 to win $100) in his head-to-head matchup with McCain, the +160 underdog (bet $100 to win $160). Given an unpopular war, a sagging economy, President Bush's 28 percent approval rating, and the fact that 80 percent of those polled believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, as well as the general tarnishing of the Republican brand, and it's to see why the experienced McCain opened as the underdog.

But as Presidential betting devotees can attest, things can change rapidly in politics. Remember, George H. W. Bush enjoyed a 90 percent approval rating following the Gulf War but winding losing his 1996 re-election bid to Bill Clinton.

What's more, the race to become US President really is 51 individual races, the 50 states and the District of Columbia. In that regard, each candidate begins with a base of roughly 200 Electoral votes (it takes 270 to win), leaving a dozen or so of battleground states, including Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Iowa, Missouri, Virginia, New Mexico, Colorado, Florida, Wisconsin and Nevada as pivotal. It's possible that a candidate gaffe or an unforeseen event could tilt those states.

Now that the Presidential candidates have been chosen by the voters, the speculation-—and betting-turns to who will fill out the respective tickets. Hillary Clinton is 3/2 to be Obama's Vice President with Jim Webb 5/1 and John Edwards, himself a Presidential candidate this cycle, listed at 6/1. Bill Richardson is held at odds of 10/1 with Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius offered at odds of 12/1. Showing that bookmakers have a sense of humor, the list also includes Oprah Winfrey, 100/1, and Bill Clinton, 150/1.

Mitt Romney is 4/1 to be McCain's top choice for Vice President, (especially if internal polls show he can deliver Michigan, where his father was Governor), while Tim Pawlenty, the Governor of Minnesota, is listed at 6/1. Florida Governor Charlie Crist, whose presence would lock up that important state, and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin each are held at odds of 8/1.

No one knows for sure who will shine or stumble in the debates and which global events will shape the tenor and substance of the campaign, two more unknown factors that make Presidential election betting both intriguing and potentially profitable.