- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 21, 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry may not have formally declared his presidential candidacy yet, but bettors on the news-futures website Intrade already are giving him the same chance of becoming the 2012 Republican nominee as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumed front-runner.

Mr. Perry’s nomination odds reached a high of 33 percent Thursday morning, eclipsing Mr. Romney for the first time. Mr. Romney, trading at 32 percent, had been Intrade’s 2012 favorite since betting on the GOP nomination began in 2008 and had even consolidated his front-runner status in recent months as his opponents stumbled and other would-be challengers opted not to run.

But the reportedly imminent entry of Mr. Perry, a popular politician in his third term in office, has altered the equation for those seeking to profit from their ability to predict the race’s outcome.

Mr. Perry’s surge seems to have come primarily at the expense of Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, who is another tea party favorite. Mrs. Bachmann’s odds have dropped from highs of 22 percent a few days ago to slightly less than 10 percent after a report by the Daily Caller revealed that she suffered from debilitating migraines.

Mrs. Bachmann still is considered the overwhelming favorite (75 percent) to win Iowa’s Ames Straw Poll next month and is given a roughly 50-50 chance of winning the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses. Mr. Romney, meanwhile, remains a 51 percent favorite to win the first primary in New Hampshire.

Trailing Mr. Perry, Mr. Romney and Mrs. Bachmann in the betting for the nomination: former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., given an 8 percent chance, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty at 6 percent.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, both of whom will decide whether to run in the coming weeks, are given odds of 5 percent and 2 percent, respectively. Though New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has said repeatedly that he will not run, bettors still give him a 2 percent shot at the nomination.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson all have odds of 1 percent or less.

Bettors give President Obama a 57 percent chance of getting re-elected.