The Internet and TV news are all atwitter, if you’ll pardon the pun, about Newt Gingrich’s second wife, Marianne, telling ABC that Newt asked her for an “open marriage” so he could keep sleeping with Callista Bisek — now Gingrich’s third wife — with Marianne’s blessing.
While “values voters” will not be pleased with Gingrich’s version of marital fidelity, betting odds show precisely zero negative reaction to the news. Instead, the news that Mitt Romney may not have won Iowa along with Rick Perry’s dropping out of the race are beginning to solidify Newt’s possible position as The Non-Romney. Romney’s botched handling of demands to see his tax returns are also damaging the view of his inevitability, at least in South Carolina.
In less than 48 hours, based on betting at intrade.com, Gingrich’s odds of winning Saturday’s South Carolina primary have exploded from about 15 percent to 40 percent while Romney’s odds have sagged from 85 percent to 60 percent. Rick “Hey, I won Iowa!” Santorum is trading under 1 percent to win the Palmetto State.
Bettors are not placing too much weight on South Carolina as a barometer for the whole nominating enchilada, with Gingrich’s odds going from about 5 percent to 10 percent, but with Romney remaining a prohibitive 84 percent favorite, down from about 91 percent.
Separate from the betting odds, part of the ABC interview of the former Mrs. Gingrich strikes me as more interesting and perhaps almost as subconsciously damaging in the minds of values voters as Newt’s inability to honor his marriage vows: Gingrich told his ex-wife that “Callista doesn’t care what I do.” Is a platinum-helmeted “prissy” home-wrecker really who social conservatives want sleeping in the White House? I wouldn’t bet on it.