It’s not scientific—well, it’s the opposite of scientific—but it is at least instructive to see whom the people with money think might win the Republican nomination for president in 2016. No, not the big money on Wall Street and the hedge funds, but the odds-makers who work for the gambling industry. In a sense, gambling odds might be a better indicator of political fortunes than opinion polls, since there’s real money at stake—and right now the odds favor Chris Christie and Marco Rubio, according to Ladbrokes, a popular betting site. Christie and Rubio are both at five-to-one odds, with Jeb Bush at 6/1 and Paul Ryan and Rand Paul at 8/1. The rest of the GOP field is way down, facing long, long odds, including Mitt Romney, who’s at 25/1. If you think Romney has a shot, you could make a lot of money.
Despite the odds makers, in New Hampshire, the state that holds the key to Christie’s presidential run, polls show that nostalgia and name recognition trump good sense among Republican voters there, with Romney far ahead of the rest of the GOP pack, according to The Star-Ledger:
The last poll of likely Republican voters in New Hampshire showed Christie, who has been hurt by the fallout from the George Washington Bridge controversy, as a leading GOP choice for a presidential run—unless Romney mounted another presidential run. Romney was the favorite among 24 percent of GOP voters here and Christie came in at a distant second at 9 percent, according to the July survey. But when Romney—who has repeatedly denied any interest in running a 2016 race—was taken out of the mix, Christie tied with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) at 11 percent. They were followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) at 8 percent, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman at 7 percent and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) at 5 percent.
As Christie Watch has reported all along, Romney and Christie have been engaged in a political waltz together for the past year or so, and Romney was one of the first national Republicans to come to Christie’s defense when the Bridgegate emerged in late 2013, and earlier this year Christie was a star invitee at a Utah meeting of former top political and fundraising aides to Romney 2012 campaign. (In 2012, of course, Romney considered Christie as a potential running mate.) For 2016, it’s very unlikely that Romney will be a candidate, but he’s a popular party leader and GOP fundraiser, and next month Romney will make a high-profile visit to New Jersey on Christie’s behalf, attending a $150-a-plate dinner in honor of the New Jersey governor’s fifty-second birthday, at which more affluent celebrants can fork over $5,000 each for a private reception.