Gingrich faltering as markets reconsider Romney (again)

Just after the South Carolina primary, where Newt Gingrich won a dominating victory, the former speaker inched up to an almost 30 percent likelihood of winning the nomination, according to prediction market data. At the time, it was a major foray in Romney territory; the markets had given the former Massachusetts governor as high as a 90 percent chance of snagging the nomination in mid-January. Now it appears that Gingrich's surge is dying. As of Thursday afternoon, he was back down to a 10.9 percent chance in the markets heading into the Florida primaries this Tuesday.

Gingrich's plummeting odds correlate with a drop in the polls in Florida. Shortly after South Carolina, several polls gave him a meaningful lead of 9 points, 8 points, and 5 points. (And of course, like South Carolina, Florida borders Gingrich's former home state of Georgia.) But more recent polls look increasingly promising for Romney, showing leads of 2 points, 8 points, and 8 points. The two large leads come from the same organizations that gave Gingrich 8 and 9 point leads just a few days prior. The markets also now favor a Romney victory in Florida, as the follow graph demonstrates:

Sources: Betfair and Intrade

Similar to South Carolina, it is nearly 100 percent likely that Romney and Gingrich will both place in the top two spots. Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are in a tight fight to capture the third position.

A major side story to follow through the voting in Florida is Marco Rubio. The junior senator is the favorite to be the vice-presidential pick at nearly 25 percent likelihood. He is in the center of the immigration debate as both a conservative and a Hispanic. He criticized a radio interview by Gingrich that called Romney anti-immigrant. He also recently received some direct criticism himself in an unusual fight with Univision.

Follow along on PredictWise for the real-time likelihood of the upcoming republican primaries, the Republican nomination, and the presidential election.

David Rothschild is an economist at Yahoo! Research. He has a Ph.D. in applied economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. His dissertation is in creating aggregated forecasts from individual-level information. Follow him on Twitter @DavMicRot and email him at

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