Will it be any clearer after tonight?

Will it be any clearer after tonight?

Yesterday the Guardian asked me to give my assessment of today’s crucial elections in Nevada and South Carolina – this is what I wrote.

The Republican Race: There are two elections – the Caucuses in Nevada and the primary in South Carolina. There has been little interest in the former and the assumption on the betting markets is that this is sewn up for the Michigan winner, Mitt Romney, who has had reasonable leads in two of the last three polls. John McCain, who is a senator from the neighbouring state of Arizona was ahead in the other one. Mike Huckabee has also been getting respectable figures as has Fred Thompson.

My ratings out of 100 are:
Mitt Romney 55
John McCain 20
Mike Huckabee 20
Rudy Giuliani 1
Fred Thompson 4

South Carolina is a much tougher proposition with Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson looking for emphatic results. If Thompson does not do well here then he is probably out of the race altogether because he will simply be unable to find funding. This is a closed primary, so the advantage that John McCain had in New Hampshire of attracting a lot of independent support will not be open to him and, Unlike the UK bookmakers, I do not make John McCain favourite. I think that the state will give Mike Huckabee his second victory.

Mike Huckabee 38
John McCain 35
Fred Thompson 15
Mitt Romney 10
Rudolf Giuliani 2

The Democratic Race: There is only one contest this weekend – the caucuses in Nevada – where the feeling that the Clinton team appears to be getting a bit rattled, judging by Bill’s angry TV interviews in response to the plan to make it easier for Las Vegas casino employees to be able to participate at work. Almost all the surveys have been giving this to Hillary and one this week put her 27% ahead. John Edwards has also been polling well here. Even so my guess is that this is going to be a very close race with each of the three contenders wanting to chalk up a good result ahead of the key South Carolina Democratic primary next weekend.

Hillary Clinton 40
Barack Obama 35
John Edwards 25

The South Carolina Democratic primary takes place a week after the Republican vote in the state and a lot can happen in the meantime. This should be fertile territory for both Barack Obama and John Edwards, who was senator for the neighbouring state. About half the Democratic electorate is black and if Obama does not win by a clear margin here then it is hard to see how the Hillary Clinton bandwagon can be stopped.

Barack Obama 50
Hillary Clinton 40
John Edwards 10

All the White House race betting prices are here.

Mike Smithson

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