Is Texas debate the last chance to derail Trump’s bandwagon?

I’ve long lost count of the number of Republican debates we’ve seen in this extraordinary cycle. They have all been entertaining – in ways never seen before in politics, closer to a celebrity cage fight than measured debate – and in my view, catastrophic for both the image and electoral prospects of the party. Tonight’s five-man affair in Texas may finally produce a decisive result.

In just five days, 14 states will vote on Super Tuesday. Unless something dramatic happens very soon, Donald Trump will emerge with a commanding delegate lead. He has won the last three contests by a massive margin and Tuesday’s one-sided Nevada result sent an ominous signal to the rest. Trump won by 22% and earned more votes than the entire GOP field in the same contest four years ago.

The market response was similarly overwhelming. From being rated around 53% going into the caucuses, Trump is now rated a 70% chance at odds of 1.43 for the nomination. At 4.1 (24%), he is also at his lowest mark yet for the presidency. The only other Republican below [100.0] for the presidency is 8.2 chance Marco Rubio.

Ever since he declared, most pundits have been sceptical about Trump’s plausibility as a candidate. He has vastly more opponents within his own party than any candidate ever, and has the worst nationwide favourability numbers of any candidate. Yet, irrespective of what happens in November when the wider public are involved, Trump has a vast, loyal base among GOP primary voters. Unless the rest unite around a single candidate, he is unbeatable.

That does not appear very likely. Marco Rubio has emerged as clearly the best placed to unite the rest, but even in one of his target states, the Florida Senator failed to do so. Whereas he finished 22% behind Trump in Nevada, Rubio only beat the crisis-ridden Ted Cruz by 3%.

He needs Cruz, John Kasich and Ben Carson to all quit the race very soon.  Yet there’s no reason why that should happen. Cruz may earn more delegates than Rubio on Super Tuesday, and remains favourite to win his home state of Texas.

Furthermore, there is nothing in Cruz’s history or profile to suggest he’ll quit. There is no love lost between him and Rubio and, at the relatively young age of 44, has an interest to playing the long game. To secure as many delegates and leverage as possible, establishing himself as the leader of pure, ‘movement Conservatives’ ahead of future battles.

So long as Cruz is in the race, he’ll consistently get at least 15% and prevent that anti-Trump coalition emerging. In any case, his supporters are by no means certain to favour Rubio over Trump. Kasich has no interest in quitting yet either. As the Governor of Ohio, which votes on March 15, he may win a state before Rubio. One week earlier, Michigan is not completely out of range.

With no anti-Trump coalition emerging in the immediate future, his opponents are reliant on a dramatic turn of events. A slip, a scandal or humiliating, gamechanging moment. Having spent the last six months killing each other rather than the race leader, perhaps this will be the first night where any of them land a meaningful blow on Trump.

Unlikely as that seems, they were given a talking point to exploit by the losing Republican candidate from 2012. Mitt Romney’s campaign was damaged by the slow-drip release of his tax returns.

Romney suggested last night that there might be something embarrassing in Trump’s returns – that he either wasn’t worth as much as claimed, or hasn’t given to veterans and charities on the scale he’s claimed. Soon we’ll know if this offers a glimmer of hope for his rivals, a long-term gift for the Democrats, or just another false dawn for the majority of Americans who do not want Trump anywhere near the White House.


12 responses to “Is Texas debate the last chance to derail Trump’s bandwagon?”

  1. I thought your analysis was supposed to be unbiased? Honestly, you have done nothing BUT provide biased commentary against Trump! I have made a packet already by completely ignoring your biased analogy of Trump. I backed the granny out of him in double digit odds and am now free carried with $40k to be cleaned up if he wins. You will have to open your eyes soon enough to the reality of Trump Paul!

    • Well done on your bet, Nick. Because someone disagrees with you, it doesnt make them biased. I too have a guaranteed profitable book from backing and laying alternatives to Trump. Do I wish I was on – of course. Have I changed my mind that he’s a terrible General Election candidate for the GOP – not at all!

      Where I would accept criticism is being biased towards historical precedent. In my experience following elections worldwide, party leadership contests have been decided on grounds of ideology, policy and positions. Trump has nothing serious to offer on those grounds, and I thought a true outsider like Cruz would blow him away once things got serious. I accept this time may be different – the key has been name recognition, celebrity and ability to suck up all the media oxygen. Good luck.

      • Fair play to you Paul, thanks for the reply, I never thought in a million years you would. I have always read your reports with interest, although I never agreed with you. That’s my uneducated opinion, and fortunately this time I was right. I only backed trump and no one else, and I built my stake up to $7k which is where it now stands, at an average odds of 7.83. As you work for Betfair you are more than welcome to check my account online, my username is Rockingham1974. I am fortunately now free carried.

        I wrote to you because I felt that your prejudice against trump was clouding your judgement. I too think he is a bit of an idiot, but I could see the writing on the wall months ago. I am a uk expat who has lived in Melbourne for many years, and like you, I stay up most nights following the US election.

        I wish you luck with your strategy, you have the knowledge and track record to consistently do well at this game. I on the other hand, might as well throw darts at a wall!

        I hope the trip you made back to the uk went well. Best of luck, and if you ever land in Melbourne Australia please look me up. My email address is and my number is +61 403 877 206 should you ever fancy a pint!

        Lastly, please now give trump the coverage he deserves, in an unbiased way of course!

        Best wishes,


        • Hi Nick – Thanks, I may well do that! I have a few other contacts in Australia and do intend to come over one winter – I watch the cricket season religiously and the golf triple crown is always a big thing for me. I’m freelance rather than a Betfair employee so don’t have access to account stuff – were you ever on the forum? I used to post as golfjudge.

          • Hi Paul,

            Thanks for the reply. No I have never posted in any other forum. I too am a big fan of the cricket, and the company I work for owns a box at the MCG. In all honesty, please do look me up if you make this trip and we can attend it together. Nothing like silver service watching a test match, especially when the Aussies get a flogging!!

            Best wishes,


          • And also Paul, what do you think the chances of a Bloomberg run might be? I took a small $500 bet on him at an average odds of $56 today. I then watched the odds go to $70, then $75 and then on to $100 for him. I didn’t continue backing him at those later odds, although I wished I had now, as within an hour they plumeted back down to $48. I am not sure if something is in the wind there, as Bloomberg always said he would make a call early March on whether he will run… Have you heard anything in the traps regarding this?

          • Hi Nick, my understanding is that his motivation is to run if there is no centre-right, or perhaps centre candidate. I suspect it is mostly about thwarting Trump, but may also apply to Cruz/Sanders. One thing that might motivate him is the lack of a free trader, with both sides largely pandering over trade deals.

            I haven’t backed him but he’s a good result off the back of other lays. 100 is a good price to trade, as I reckon he’d go straight down to 10 of confirming. I would be astounded if he won, though.

          • Thanks for the reply Paul, especially when you are so busy. I agree with you regarding Bloomberg. He would be good value at these odds. I will not be putting any more on him, but I will definitely sell back to the market should be run. Interesting reading your last article, I still respectfully disagree with you RE Trump, although I am biased as hell for obvious reasons! Stay lucky mate, Nick

      • Nice analysis of the race so far. Trump has a clear path to win the nomination and I’ve done well shorting the field against him . The media has an interest , for now , in seeing him win both for a ratings increase and to further the chances of their real choice ” La Hillary ” as she’s called in Nevada. Expect the tame media to turn in July after Trump is locked in . His business bankruptcies , racism , sexism and Trump University will all be under the microscope . With Trump U. the NY Attorney General’s office has sued for fraud . Many of his business deals end up in Court for reason. He has turned the GOP into a clown show and will not get enthusiastic support from the Party . Switching to Clinton for the General but will continue to back Trump during the Primaries . Christie a good bet in the VP market .

        • Mark, I could not agree more. Very surprised that his opponents havent brought up the multitude of scandals earlier. The media love this and want a full year’s worth of ratings. Wait for him to be confirmed as nominee and then it will all be out there. The Democrats, for whom I believe Hillary Clinton is a very weak candidate, must be laughing.

      • If you consider Cruz, whose wife worked right under condoleeza rice while the country was lied into the Iraq war, and who himself was instrumental in deciding whom George W Bush would pick for the Supreme Court an “outsider,” you probably shouldn’t be betting.

        • Frank, given that establishment types like Giulaini, Christie, the Iowa Governor etc even prefer Trump to Cruz, he is clearly the biggest outsider of the pack, with the possible exception of Carson. Washington hates him, and regardless of his motivations, he does what the base wants in standing up to them.

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