Michael Bloomberg’s maiden voyage as a Democratic presidential contender has already hit rough shoals, after a rocky debate performance sent the billionaire’s chances to win the nomination plummeting overnight.
After Wednesday’s face-off in Nevada, several political odds-making websites showed that the former Republican and New York City mayor’s standing has fallen steeply in his well-financed bid to take on President Donald Trump in November.
Smarkets, Real Clear Politics and Paddy Power are reflecting a decline in Bloomberg’s odds, with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders gaining momentum and remaining a favorite to win Nevada’s caucus this weekend.
Bloomberg, who was excoriated by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren in the opening minutes of Wednesday’s debate, took a brutal drubbing during the two-hour debate and never recovered. Smarkets bettors cut the billionaire’s chances in half — to 15% from 31%— while Paddy Power’s markets saw his odds tumble to 22.2%, from 33.3%.
Meanwhile, bets on both RCP and Smarkets estimate Sanders is the prohibitive favorite to secure the Democratic nomination. Bettors see a 50% chance he’ll do so, and he’s projected to have a delegate lead that may soon become hard to surmount.
Yet all is not completely lost for Bloomberg, as he still pulls marginally more support than others in the race — including embattled former Vice President Joe Biden, whose poll numbers and standing on betting markets have fallen sharply.
"It seems socialist Sanders or billionaire Bloomberg may make more formidable adversaries for Donald Trump, as they can match the President’s media-manipulation tactics with their ability to steal headlines by expressing stronger views,” said Sarbjit Bakhshi, Smarkets head of political markets.
Bloomberg is positioning himself as a centrist alternative to Warren and Sanders, both of whom are regarded by some party insiders as too far left to emerge victorious against Trump.
In addition, the billionaire’s lavish spending and vast fortune all but guarantee he can go the distance into March’s most competitive “Super Tuesday” contests, where a treasure trove of electoral votes await.
Last week, Eurasia Group analyst Todd Mariano wrote that “while the odds of a progressive candidate coming out on top have risen from 35% to 40%, we overall still bet on a moderate candidate prevailing.”
Should Biden stumble further or exit the race — an event that’s increasingly likely given his flagging poll numbers and defecting fund raisers — “Bloomberg looks well-positioned to try and occupy that moderate space,” Mariano added.
“His campaign is large, on target, very well-funded, and a fractured race benefits him on Super Tuesday. By contrast, [former] South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who won the Iowa caucus, “could make a run, but he needs a surprise victory tonight to significantly bolster his momentum,” Mariano wrote.
Javier David is an editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow Javier on Twitter: @TeflonGeek