Sen. John McCain (Courtesy Providence Journal)

Bets in the political futures markets strongly suggest the momentum Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain gained in the Iowa caucuses will carry them both to strong victories in the upcoming New Hampshire primary.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen, who relied on the markets to predict accurately Iowa wins for Obama and Gov. Mike Huckabee, told WND McCain gained the most nationally after a virtual tie for third in the Hawkeye state. Anticipating a New Hampshire victory, the markets now project the Arizona senator as the favorite to win the GOP nomination.

The Rasmussen market predictions now give Obama a 65 percent chance of winning the Democratic primary in New Hampshire and McCain a 74 percent chance in the state’s Republican contest., a predictions market run out of Ireland, shows almost exactly the same results, giving Obama a 67 percent chance of winning New Hampshire and McCain a 74.9 percent chance.

“Our prediction market for Iowa turned out to be very accurate,” Rasmussen said.

As WND reported Wednesday, futures contracts gave both Huckabee and Obama a 60 percent chance of winning Iowa.

In political futures markets, candidates are “bought and sold” much like commodities or stock futures.

“We did an update to our predictions market at about 10:45 p.m. last night,” Rasmussen told WND, “and already the markets had shifted based on the Iowa results and were re-assessing New Hampshire and the race nationally.”

Today, the Rasmussen market gives Clinton a 54 percent chance of winning the Democratic Party presidential nomination and Barack Obama a 41 percent chance.

“On the Democratic side, Hillary had been up around 65 percent likely to win the nomination,” Rasmussen said. “Now, after Iowa, she lost about 11 points and is down to just a little better than a 50-50 chance to win the nomination.”

The prediction market numbers went in the other direction for Obama.

“Before Iowa, Obama had about a 29 percent chance to win the nomination,” said Rasmussen. “After Iowa, he gained about 12 points, so now his chance of winning the nomination is up to 41 percent in our market analysis.”

Now Clinton will have to beat the odds in New Hampshire to prevent the combined effect of losses in Iowa and New Hampshire from removing her perhaps permanently from front-runner status in the Democratic race.

On the Republican side, Huckabee and McCain got a bounce from Iowa.

“Even though he came in third in the Iowa caucus, McCain was the real winner in Iowa,” Rasmussen concluded. “Right now McCain is the leader in the national election, with a 32.5 percent chance of winning the Republican Party nomination.”

“On the Republican side, the real loser in Iowa was Romney,” he said. “On the national side, Romney lost 12 points in Iowa, so that now he is rated to have only a 14 percent chance to win the Republican nomination, when he had been at 26 percent before Iowa.”

Even though Huckabee won in Iowa, the Rasmussen market puts the former Arkansas governor’s chance of winning the Republican nomination at only 17 percent, behind both McCain and Giuliani, at 26 percent. agrees McCain has the best chance currently to win the Republican Party presidential nomination, at 33 percent, followed by Giuliani at 28 percent, Romney at 14.9 percent and Huckabee at 15.7 percent.

On the Democratic side, still lists Clinton as the leader, with a 51.7 percent chance of winning the party’s presidential nomination, followed by Obama with a 46.4 percent chance and Edwards a distant third, at 2.7 percent.

The McCain surge appears attributable in part to the increased focus on international politics and terrorism since the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan.

Huckabee benefited from the organization and huge turnout of evangelical Christians in Iowa. In more secular New Hampshire, rates Huckabee’s chances of winning at less than 1 percent.

The Rasmussen market prediction is more forgiving, rating Huckabee’s chances in New Hampshire at 6.2 percent.

Romney’s failure to win in Iowa is likely to be repeated in New Hampshire. rates the former Massachusetts governor’s chances at 24.5 percent, while Rasmussen predicts 22 percent.

Going into New Hampshire, Clinton is also suffering from a lack of momentum. predicts she has only a 34 percent chance of winning in New Hampshire, a view shared by Rasmussen, whose market prediction puts Hillary’s chances of winning at an almost identical 35 percent.

While former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards narrowly edged Clinton for second place in Iowa, the futures markets are betting he will fall to a distant third in New Hampshire. and Rasmussen market predictions both give him less than 1 percent chance to win in New Hampshire.

Should Romney end up, as predicted, in a distant second-place finish in New Hampshire, he will face an uphill battle in South Carolina and Florida.

After having spent millions of his own money, the future markets are predicting Romney will fail to convince his former neighbors that his record as Massachusetts governor qualifies him to be the Republican nominee.

The Rasmussen market predictions are open free of charge to any Internet user who cares to register. A Fantasy Politics League permits registered users to create an equivalent system to fantasy sports leagues.

The system involves buying and selling political future contracts for money and requires registered users to place funds on deposit in order to trade.

Odds on the political futures markets change as contracts on various candidates are “bought and sold” in relation to changing dynamics in the presidential race and reported news events.

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