Political Mercury

December 16, 2010



By Douglas Burns


Obama even odds for 2012,

Ladbrokes breaks down contenders


In horse racing there is a grand, wonderful term known as the “good price.”

This is when you have a horse with a reasonable case of winning a race with odds that strike the bettor as too high.

Such is the case with Ladbrokes, the betting site in Great Britain that carries odds on U.S. presidential elections.

The good price?

One Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas who captured the Republican Iowa Caucuses in 2008 and whom some in the White House political team reportedly most fear (and perhaps suspect) as their opponent in 2012.

Ladbrokes has a different take. They have Huckabee at 20-1 to win the presidency in 2012. Damn good price if you are thinking about betting.

As for others in the mix … President Obama is at even odds. Fair enough.

The top Republican right now, according to the Ladbrokes sharp-penciled set, is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at 8-1. Not a bad price there, either.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin comes in at 10 to 1. Anyone who has read Palin’s book, “America By Heart,” will be shocked if she doesn’t seek the presidency in 2012. She’s building her case in that text. The great huntress from the north is no temptress. She’s running. There’s no other logical course for her.

U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., is 16-1. He’s already known in the highly Republican far northwest Iowa, which is something to consider.

Two Republican governors — Indiana’s Mitch Daniels and New Jersey’s Chris Christie — come in 16 to 1.

Potential candidates Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour carry 25 to 1 odds with Ladbrokes. In a full field, with Palin and Huckabee thrashing about, it is conceivable that the neighboring Pawlenty could do well in Iowa and catapult himself into contention. The Associated Press reports that Pawlenty will spend time in both Iowa and New Hampshire to promote his book, “Courage to Stand,” which will be released on Jan. 11.

As for those looking for a challenge to Obama from within the Democratic Party, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who chaired the Democratic Party during the 2008 cycle, is listed at 200 to 1 by Ladbrokes. The notion of Dean emerging to challenge Obama from the left, and then go on to win a general election in 2012, is difficult to conceive, even just for, well, argument’s sake. The argument just isn’t there.

Hillary Clinton is at 25 to 1. This isn’t happening.

Another fascinating national political figure to consider is U.S. Sen.-elect Marco Rubio of Florida, to whom Political Mercury has devoted two columns in the past 18 months. With his Cuban heritage, Tea Party bona fides, brochure-friendly family and legitimate experience as Speaker of The House in Florida, Rubio is looking to have all the right stuff for a vice presidential candidate slot. Still, Ladbroke has Rubio at 25 to 1 to win the presidency. If you break it down, he may be the Republicans best candidate against Obama. But is he ready? Then again, was Obama ready when he announced in February 2007?

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is 25 to 1. He’s an idea man with the 1994 GOP revolution very much to his name.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., a protégé of our own Congressman Steve King, pulls odds of 150 to 1. It’s possible she’ll enter the Iowa Caucuses, and in the absence of a Palin, there’s a place for the Iowa native Bachmann, who would have access to at least some of King’s considerable connections. Both she and King are geniuses at building outsized reputations for themselves through brilliant self-casting as regular villains on MSNBC and liberal blogs who feed on their near daily release of provocative commentary that raises the blood pressure of ideologues but falls outside the relevancy of real legislative battles and the arteries of the nation’s actual power flow.

In the final analysis, if someone gave you a million dollars and said you had to make the wager through Ladbrokes on the 2012 presidential race, the best argument — from a pure betting standpoint — still would be President Obama. CV


Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who writes for The Carroll Daily Times Herald and offers columns for Cityview.



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