Washington: Donald Trump has for the first time been named as the favourite to win the Republican nomination by a betting agency.
Though Mr Trump has long led national polls in the United States, betting markets, considered by some a more reliable predictor this far out from voting, have consistently predicted that establishment candidates would overtake him.
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"The market for Republican nominee has been the tightest betting contest in the 2016 US presidential election so far and this the first time Trump has been favourite, which could well present a significant shift at a pivotal time in the campaign," analysis on the Betfair website says.
Betfair calculates that the odds of a Trump victory are 15/8 or 34 per cent, placing him in the lead for the first time, ahead of Marco Rubio who had led since October and has now widened to odds of 11/5 or 31 per cent.
When Mr Trump began his campaign the establishment contender Jeb Bush was the dominant candidate with a 45 per cent chance of winning. The agency now calculates he has a 10 per cent chance.
The prediction market Predictwise, which has long predicted that Senator Rubio was the most likely candidate to win now has him running in a dead heat with Mr Trump.
Prediction markets are increasingly being depended upon as more reliable indicators than polling.
Also a pro-Jeb Bush Latino-American political action committee called Vamos for Jeb 2016 closed down on Tuesday.
"When Jeb Bush first announced he was going to run we thought he was really going to be the president to go for it and unite Hispanics with Americans, but then obviously Donald Trump came in the picture and completely changed everything," its founder, Claire Hardwick, told Politico. "We got a lot of followers. I still do think he will be the candidate to appeal to the Hispanics."