By Noah Lieberman
With just a few hours until the final Republican debate in Iowa, so much is on the line for the candidates. Such high stakes are sure to breed a competitive and interesting debate, so here are the questions you should be asking to make sure it’s also a successful one for you on the Ballotcraft market.
Is it just a two-man race?
Our markets have started to echo the mainstream media’s perceptions of the Republican debates, separating two candidates, Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. The two junior senators have risen in various polls over the past month, Cruz in Iowa and Rubio nationally, and much has been made of their oratorical slugfest in the last debate, which our traders gave to Cruz after predicting a Rubio victory for much of the night. Again Rubio heads into the debate with the advantage, up 38 percent to 27 at the time of writing, and his fight against Cruz to become the party’s main opposition to Donald Trump should again manifest itself into a fairly fun debate night. The two senators are fairly equally matched on foreign policy and the economy, each appealing to their own bases rather well, so the real question will be who excels in the other sections of the debate. The debate tonight is in South Carolina, potentially giving the more conservative Cruz the edge should social issues finally make an appearance at a Republican debate. This makes immigration the crucial issue for Rubio, which is exactly where he faltered in the last debate. So depending on which topic comes up first, be prepared to buy or sell these candidates accordingly.
The other question is whether other candidates will play into this at all. We’ll discuss which of the other candidates have the best shot at challenging the established order down below, but not many of them can really change the dynamic. That is except for Donald Trump, who has started to lash out at Senator Cruz as the poll numbers in Iowa start to tilt in the Texan’s favor. This could be a double-edged sword for Rubio, who will certainly enjoy having his opponent derided without getting his own hands dirty, but won’t like seeing Cruz get free facetime as he responds to Donald’s attacks.
Who is the dark horse?
Outside of the two frontrunners, no other candidate in the main stage debate sits below 4 percent or above 6.5 percent in our marketplace. This means that all of the other candidates are low-risk, high-reward gambles for anyone who thinks that they have a chance at winning it all. Trump remains the biggest gamble, as his message continues to resonate with his supporters but not with our focus groups. Perhaps this is the night that changes, but I wouldn’t bet on it (Similar arguments apply to Ben Carson). This leaves Bush, Christie, and Kasich, three governors all desperate for a big push in New Hampshire from the establishment of the party. They all are essentially hopeless candidates with current polling, but one good night could redeem their campaigns. Christie will give you the most memorable moments and has shown the willingness to engage other candidates throughout the night, so he’s probably your best bet, but Bush will likely get the most time out of the three simply due to name recognition. A portfolio with shares in two of these three candidates has the probability to pay off big should Rubio and Cruz falter.
185 shares of Cruz
88 shares of Rubio
300 shares of Christie