11/08/2010 04:20 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Obama Big Betting Favorite for 2012

Don't write off Barack Obama just yet. He may be politically wounded, but he's far from politically dead.

In fact, despite his skidding approval numbers, the furor over his inability to resolve the jobs mess and the whipping he took in the mid-term elections, leading a number of political pundits to predict he'll be a one-term president, lo and behold, Obama has emerged as the odds-on favorite to recapture the White House in 2012.

That's the assessment of the United Kingdom's William Hill, one of the world's largest and most influential bookmakers. After a week of brisk betting on the U.S.'s 2012 presidential outcome following the recent elections, the bookmaker has established Obama as the man to beat and rates him as even money to reign again for another four years.

What makes this outlook especially noteworthy is that Obama is now the top dog and by no means an underdog, some media reports notwithstanding.

What's more, William Hill boasts a pretty imposing record in picking winners in the U.S. presidential sweepstakes. "We normally get it right," says Rupert Adams, director of the bookmaker's media operations, who tells me the firm's favorites win about 80% to 90% of the time.

The national election, of course, is still two years away and the unexpected, such as a deep economic downturn or another attack on American shores, could easily alter the course of events and the favorites can always change. But as of now, Adams says, no potential candidate comes even close to Obama in the betting odds.

Indicative of this, Obama's closest rival in the betting on who will win the 2012 presidential race is distant runner-up Mitt Romney at 7 to 1.

Following Romney, three names are quoted at 14 to 1: Sarah Palin, Indiana governor Mitch Daniels and South Dakota senator John Thune.

Speaking of Romney and Palin, some Wall Streeters are abuzz about an unusual bet made between a top official of a buyout firm and one of the country's wealthiest hedge fund managers. In brief, one is wagering Romney will be the Republican standard-bearer in 2012; the other is saying it will be Palin. If either fails to run, the bet, which was made last Saturday, is null and void.

The loser provides the winner with an all expense-paid 10-day summer vacation for he and his family in the Hamptons at a cost not to exceed $200,000. Hopefully not, that's $20,000 a day. One participant in the bet, which has I.R.S. ramifications, confirmed the wager on the promise of anonymity for both names.

Rounding out the odds on William Hill's list of presidential candidates are Mike Huckabee at 18 to 1; Hillary Clinton, 22 to 1; Newt Gingrich and Minnesota governor Tim Pawlentry, both at 25 to 1; Missisippi governor Haley Barbour, Joe Biden and Louisiana governor Bobby Jindall, each quoted at 33 to 1; Ron Paul, 50 to 1; Mike Bloomberg, 100 to 1; and American pop singer Lady Gaga, 500 to 1.

Another obvious question: who will be the G.O.P.'s presidential nominee?

Here again, for those political bettors, William Hill has come up with a list of names and their odds.

Romney takes the top spot at 11 to 4 (meaning you put up $4 to win $11 for a total return of $15). Palin takes second spot at 5 to 1, followed by Thune, 6 to 1, Daniels, 13 to 2, Pawlenty, 8 to 1, and Gingrich and Huckabee, 10 to 1.

Rounding out this group are Barbour, 14 to 1, Indiana Congressman Mike Pence, 16 to 1, and Jindall, 22 to 1.

If you figure you know the answer and you're temped to bet a few bucks at William Hill, forget it. If you have an American address, it's illegal.

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