Political betting markets favor Huntsman to win GOP nomination over Cox

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The polls suggest the race for the GOP nomination for governor is a two-person race right now, with either Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox or former Gov. Jon Huntsman leading the pack. But on the popular political betting site PredictIt, Huntsman is the clear favorite right now.

On Sunday, bets that Huntsman would win the GOP nomination in Utah were trading at 67 cents, while bets that Cox would be the Republican nominee were trading at just 29 cents. Former House Speaker Greg Hughes and former GOP Chairman Thomas Wright were not included as options in the market.

Investors apparently did not like either Cox or Huntsman’s performance during two debates on Thursday. During a Thursday morning debate sponsored by the Washington County Republican Women, Cox was criticized by the other candidates for the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The afternoon event, put on by the Salt Lake Chamber, was a more staid affair. 

Following those events, the price of bets that either Cox or Huntsman would win the nomination dropped. Huntsman fell from 64 to 61 cents, while contracts predicting Cox would win dropped from 35 cents to 29 cents each. But, in the days that followed, money from investors boosted the price that Huntsman would win to 66 cents on Friday and 67 cents on Saturday. Shares predicting that Cox would win remained at 29 cents.

When the Utah GOP primary market opened, Huntsman started at 77 cents while Cox was at just 4 cents. Huntsman has been in the lead since the market started on April 9. The lowest his contracts have traded since that timeframe has been 52 cents, while the highest Cox has been is 51 cents shortly after trading began. 

Cox has a slight lead over Huntsman and the rest of the field in polling conducted by Y2 Analytics for UtahPolicy.com and KUTV 2News. Huntsman and Cox are in a virtual tie in another poll for the Deseret News. However, the second poll allows voters to say they were undecided, while the Y2 Analytics survey forced respondents to pick a preferred candidate.

Cox and Hughes advanced to the primary ballot by finishing in the top two at the recent GOP convention, while Huntsman and Wright collected signatures under SB54 to secure a spot in the June election.

While PredictIt is not a scientific predictor of how the election could turn out, it is a unique insight into public opinion about the state of political races. 

While most national polls have presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden leading Republican Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, contracts for Trump’s re-election stand at 49 cents, while Biden is trading at 43 cents.