Carly Fiorina rising fast after debate win

Businesswoman steals the show from Donald Trump

From the early market reaction there’s no question about who ‘won’ last night’s second Republican debate. In line with almost universal good reviews, Carly Fiorina is storming up the markets.

The former CEO of Hewlett Packard is now trading at [11.0] or 9% for the nomination, [30.0] (3%) for the Presidency. Those ratings have doubled since the hours before the debate, when I tipped her at [60.0] along with Ben Carson at [34.0].

With the field due to whittle down considerably soon, I reckon there’s still plenty of mileage in both bets and have no plans to lay back yet. The market has so far been dominated by the dubiously short-priced Jeb Bush and the coverage by Donald Trump. Bush remains poor value and last night may prove to be the moment Trump’s bandwagon begun to fade.

It wasn’t that Trump had a terrible debate, more that others stole the show. While others made their mark, Trump’s night will be best remembered for being owned by Fiorina’s cool response to his snide remarks about her appearance. Republicans on social media generally seemed delighted that someone had finally taken The Donald down.

As I argued last week, both Carson and Fiorina can boast the same ‘outsider’ credentials that have played so well for Trump, but are both ultimately more electable and non-offensive. If Trump fades, they may well be the beneficiaries.

Carson’s performance was also ordinary but his recent poll numbers, challenging Trump nationally and ahead in today’s Michigan survey, mean he remains a front-tier candidate. He’s particularly enthusing evangelicals – a voting block that earned Mike Huckabee second place in 2008, and whose support is pivotal in Iowa.

Fiorina on the other hand looks the ideal mainstream Republican candidate. She’s shone in both debates, has a good personal story to tell, isn’t damaged by failures in office and the media seem to love her. Just as Trump’s celebrity has boosted media interest and TV ratings for this contest, so will a confident, intelligent woman from the outside world, in a contest against ten men.

In the short-term, I’m holding these positions in expectation of lesser candidates falling away. I expect both Carson and Fiorina to be among the leading handful when we get to Iowa and New Hampshire, at much shorter odds.

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