For a perfect snapshot of the Republican primary and the 2012 race in general, look no further than the OTUS News political stock market.
When the market opened in early December, there was a cluster at the top of the pack. Three candidates had values in the high 60s – Barack Obama, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.
Rick Santorum was the least valuable Republican in the mid-20s.
Since then, President Obama has maintained his value. He was at 70 in trading this morning. Mitt Romney, still the most valuable Republican, has fallen to the low 60s. And Newt Gingrich has lost almost half of his value. Ron Paul, who opened at more than 50 back in December, has yet to win a race. His value has steadily declined and he now trades in the 30s.
But Rick Santorum, who shot up after Iowa, then deflated after losses in New Hampshire and Florida, has been on a steady climb since his fourth place finish in the Nevada caucuses. He is the only candidate to gain value since December.
He now trades higher than Paul and is about even with Gingrich.
Remember, the market uses data from social media and ABC News political analysts to judge a candidate’s overall value. It does not measure the probability of victory in the next primary.
And this too is an element of the race. Rick Santorum, according to opinion polls, could either win or place second to Mitt Romney in Michigan. But as a candidate he has far less total value than Romney currently does.
All that could change depending on tonight’s results. But for now, the market still sees Romney as the most valuable candidate next to President Obama.