Folks are putting their money on former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to be picked as Mitt Romney's likely running mate.
Romney is expected to name his vice president pick soon as the Republican National Convention nears. Pawlenty and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio continue to top the choice lists of many pundits, and as it turns out, gamblers, too.
At least one betting site -- Sportsbook.com -- gives Pawlenty the best odds.
Traders on Ireland-based Intrade, a popular prediction market where bettors buy stock on the "yes" or "no" chance of something happening, see Pawlenty as one of four candidates with double-digit chances to be Romney's running mate.
As of Tuesday evening, Pawlenty had a 19 percent chance of being picked -- Portman sat at 30 percent.
Pawlenty's chances shot up from less than 5 percent in May and rose dramatically in mid-June, when Pawlenty made several media appearances to speak in favor of Romney.
He received another major boost in mid-July -- peaking at 30 percent around the time a lengthy New York Times article appeared stating Romney had "embraced Mr. Pawlenty" -- but has dipped since.
Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, noted his center's "crystal ball" site gave Pawlenty the greatest chance of being picked -- with Portman a close second.
But, he quickly added: "It means absolutely nothing. The only people who know aren't talking, and the only people talking don't know anything.
"All we're doing is who might help him and who might fit him."
Sabato said Pawlenty's strengths included his blue-collar allure, compared with Romney's white-collar credentials, the fact that he "passed the Oval Office test" with eight years as governor of a midsized state and his appeal in potential Midwestern swing states.
Several Midwest states -- including Portman's Ohio -- are seen as battlegrounds for Romney and President Barack Obama.
Political observers note that in 2008, Pawlenty also was considered a favorite to be selected as Sen. John McCain's running mate. However, McCain's eventual pick, then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, was on few peoples' radar.
Other top-ranked Intrade speculations include Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (11.9 percent), Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (11.8 percent) and South Dakota Sen. John Thune (5.2 percent).
Minnesota. Rep. Michele Bachmann was a long-shot at 0.1 percent.
Meanwhile, Pawlenty was doing even better on Sportsbook.com, a top online betting site. There, the odds of him being tapped as the Republican vice presidential candidate sat at 9-5 on Tuesday.
Portman had 13-5 odds, and Rubio was a 3-1.
But industry experts note that few would take such odds as solid predictions -- because once the betting starts, the odds are adjusted not just by political events but by "the action" coming in from bettors.
The Republican National Convention is scheduled Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, Fla.
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