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Prediction Markets and the 2008 Electoral Map 813

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the let-the-speculation-run-rampant dept.
Electionwatch submitted a predicted electoral map of the 2008 US Presidential election, based on the bets made by the intrade prediction markets. I'm always interested in these markets and how accurate they end up being. This one calls it for Obama, but then again you probably could guess that by just watching 10 minutes of any TV "News" channel.
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Prediction Markets and the 2008 Electoral Map

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @11:43AM (#23748665)
    He can walk on water and make the dead rise.
    • by illeism (953119) *
      I'll vote for him if he can bring my dog back, I miss him, otherwise I'm voting for any other third party candidate.
  • by bit trollent (824666) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @11:43AM (#23748681) Homepage
    I think that the computer really only needs a few numbers to call this election for Obama:
    1. Value of the Dollar
    2. Number of people killed in Iraq
    3. Number of WMDs found in Iraq
    4. Percentage of bankruptcies caused by lack of health care coverage
    5. Number of houses lost to predatory lenders - this is what deregulation is all about
    • by pubjames (468013) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @11:56AM (#23748947)
      Unfortunately, I think there are going to be powerful dark forces at work to try get the Republicans back in again.

      People are easily swayed. Another terrorist attack in the USA I think could sway the elections.
      • by r_jensen11 (598210) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:03PM (#23749081)

        Unfortunately, I think there are going to be powerful dark forces at work to try get the Republicans back in again.

        People are easily swayed. Another terrorist attack in the USA I think could sway the elections.
        That after 8 years, Republicans can't protect America?
        • by jgarra23 (1109651) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:23PM (#23749495)
          That after 8 years, Republicans can't protect America?
          Not to take any of the blame from the Repubs but I think it's safe to include the Dems in there as well. Any ounce of thoughtful prevention from anyone has been quickly buried by both.

          Score one for the politicians, I'm surprised that no one has realized that there really is only one party with two different subsets in America.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by cjb658 (1235986)
            Most of the new anti-terrorism legislation is there so the politicians can say "look, see, we're doing something!" Do they care if it actually works? Do they even have reason to believe it will actually work?

            My guess is no, in at least one of the two cases.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by pubjames (468013)
          I think you over-estimate the intelligence of the average voter.

          "don't change the leader during war time"

          "democrats are soft on terrorism"

          "we have the experience"

          etc etc...
        • by DrJimbo (594231) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:05PM (#23750329)

          Unfortunately, I think there are going to be powerful dark forces at work to try get the Republicans back in again. People are easily swayed. Another terrorist attack in the USA I think could sway the elections.
          That after 8 years, Republicans can't protect America?
          You need to read New World, New Mind [amazon.com] by Robert E. Ornstein and Paul Ehrlich. Pdf's available here [ishkbooks.com].

          The book explains that people are not rational or logical especially when it comes to risk assessment. The best recent example (the book was written in 1989) is America's reaction to the 9/11 attacks. More people died of hunger that day than were killed in the attack. The US response to the attacks was totally illogical because people felt threatened and this caused them to stop using the higher levels of their brains. They instead, reverted to their reptilian "flight or fight" instincts.

          Another similar (or worse) attack will most likely produce a similar response from the American people. They will stop thinking rationally, which is probably the only way the Republicans can beat Obama on November 4th.

          • I'm not sure if it was from the Pentagon papers, but Chomsky gave a talk where he discussed the CIA's incompetence and outright idiocy while they were trying to figure out if China or Russia was sending Ho Chi Minh orders in the 60s.

            They chased down every lead, and the most they ever found was a Russian newspaper in a Vietnamese embassy. Their conclusion? Ho Chi Minh was such a dedicated communist client that they didn't even need to send orders. Ho Chi Minh just "knew what to do."

            I also recently finished w
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by goldspider (445116)
        Unfortunately, I think there are going to be powerful dark forces at work to try get the Republicans back in again. People are easily swayed. Another terrorist attack in the USA I think could sway the elections.

        Good thing we have groundless conspiracy theories and paranoid speculation to counter the administration's own dire predictions.

        We all remember 4 years ago when partisan fanatics were predicting that Bush would declare some kind of national emergency and cancel the election in order to maintain powe
    • by tonyreadsnews (1134939) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:02PM (#23749043)
      Right because so many things like this weren't against Bush when he was elected the 2nd time.

      Never underestimate the power of fear, doubt, and money.
      • by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:47PM (#23749965) Journal

        Never underestimate the power of fear, doubt, and money.
        Also, never underestimate the power of unverifiable electronic vote capturing in key districts.

        And never underestimate the power of election tampering by directing poor urban voters to the wrong site... or by undersupplying voting machines in poor urban districts...
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mosb1000 (710161)
          I often wonder: do people (such as yourself) who post stuff like this actually believe it? Or are you trying to convince gullible people that it's the truth, knowing all the time that it's nonsense? It's hard to believe that anyone would , with no evidence whatsoever, believe such an outlandish claim. The level of delusion and paranoia present in this comment (indeed seen everywhere throughout this thread) is almost unbelievable. You should not make such outrageous charges when you have no evidence or p
    • by sayfawa (1099071) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:03PM (#23749061)
      Too bad those numbers didn't call it for Kerry. The only point that wasn't a big issue in '04 is number 5. So who knows what will happen. Also, you forgot one:

      6. Teh ghey marriage!
    • Dolt (Score:4, Insightful)

      by InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:04PM (#23749085)
      "1. Value of the Dollar"

      And how exactly is printing more money (in the form of "tax rebate" checks funded through deficit spending) going to increase the value of the dollar? (Source [clarionledger.com]) Doesn't it do the exact opposite?

      "4. Percentage of bankruptcies caused by lack of health care coverage"

      And Obama would replace that number with the "percentage of Americans completely losing their property rights to socialism", which of course would be 100%. McCain is of course doing the same thing, though possibly to a lesser degree (or maybe he's just better at hiding it).

      "5. Number of houses lost to predatory lenders."

      I have no sympathy for people who sign contracts without reading them, nor for banks that associate with such shady sources. Companies and individuals that purposely do not investigate the risk of such endeavors will fall. It is not our responsibility to provide a safety net for bad practices - doing so brings the whole system down, because everyone starts thinking they can make mistakes and someone will protect them from the consequences (for free at that!)

      As for Iraq, all I see is a lot of empty talk from the candidates. I doubt either has a viable plan that is without dangerous consequences; they will instead elect to do nothing.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SBacks (1286786)

        I have no sympathy for people who sign contracts without reading them, nor for banks that associate with such shady sources. Companies and individuals that purposely do not investigate the risk of such endeavors will fall. It is not our responsibility to provide a safety net for bad practices - doing so brings the whole system down, because everyone starts thinking they can make mistakes and someone will protect them from the consequences (for free at that!)

        I agree with you in principle. The "predatory" lending was completely laid out in the contracts people signed. However, many people (not the crowd that reads this) don't have even a slight understanding of what any of it means, let alone know how to realistically budget for years in advance or how to prepare for less than status quo times.

        Its people like this that lending laws are designed to protect. As uninformed as they may be, most/many of them are productive members of society.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          However, many people (not the crowd that reads this) don't have even a slight understanding of what any of it means, let alone know how to realistically budget for years in advance or how to prepare for less than status quo times.
          And in the future they'll either learn how to do that or else fail. Unless, that is, we keep them from failing.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          "However, many people (not the crowd that reads this) don't have even a slight understanding of what any of it means, let alone know how to realistically budget for years in advance or how to prepare for less than status quo times."

          So why do they sign the contract? Why do they not ask any questions about what is meant by the text they don't understand?

          "As uninformed as they may be, most/many of them are productive members of society."

          It's fine that they are still productive. But members of the publ
          • Re:Dolt (Score:5, Insightful)

            by WaZiX (766733) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:39PM (#23749811)

            It's fine that they are still productive. But members of the public should not be forced to give up some of their own productivity (in the form of money) to support such individuals when they become unproductive.
            Unless not saving them would mean all our productivity would go down the drain... which is exactly the problem that we are facing today.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by SBacks (1286786)

            So why do they sign the contract? Why do they not ask any questions about what is meant by the text they don't understand?

            They often times do. Unfortunately, they usually trust the lender or real estate agent to act in their best interest. And, in many cases, the agent will just lie or say that its just there for the lawyers.

            It's fine that they are still productive. But members of the public should not be forced to give up some of their own productivity (in the form of money) to support such individuals when they become unproductive.

            Why would I have to give up any of my money? Giving these people tax dollars isn't the solution. The lending companies are the ones that should be targeted. They can either be forced to remove all predatory practices (like increasing your interest rate by several hundred percent due to one late payment),

      • No, You. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bit trollent (824666) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:20PM (#23749437) Homepage
        1) And how exactly is printing more money (in the form of "tax rebate" checks funded through deficit spending) going to increase the value of the dollar? (Source) Doesn't it do the exact opposite? A tax rebate check is only printed money if you are running deficits like we are under Republican rule, not if you have a surplusses like we had by the time Bill Clinton left office.

        Not only that, but consider the difference between a one time stimulous check, and an occupation of a foreign country that costs us $341 Million per day and has left us less safe. That is $341 Million of printed money per day. Convenient you would forget about that

        4) And Obama would replace that number with the "percentage of Americans completely losing their property rights to socialism", which of course would be 100%. McCain is of course doing the same thing, though possibly to a lesser degree (or maybe he's just better at hiding it).

        The only alternative to letting people bankrupt themselves until they die broke, their illness untreated is to scare people with the idea of socialism. If you want to pay through the nose for health "coverage" that specifically excludes the pre-existing conditions you need it for, I support your right to do that.

        It is immoral to bankrupt people for getting sick and any society that has the ability to prevent this has a moral duty to. All other industrialized nations provide a health care system to their citizens that actually treats their conditions rather than just extracting as much money while providing as little healthcare as possible.

        5) have no sympathy for people who sign contracts without reading them, nor for banks that associate with such shady sources. Companies and individuals that purposely do not investigate the risk of such endeavors will fall.

        Falling home prices hurt everyone, not just people who took out bad loans - often while being tricked in to thinking they were agreeing to different terms. If you need to move for a job and find that your home is now worth significantly less than you paid for it, you are screwed.

        At that point do you give thanks to a regulatory system that let some slimey, deceptive, piece of shit make a buck at everyone else's expense?
        • Re:No, You. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Cajun Hell (725246) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @02:28PM (#23752091) Homepage Journal

          It is immoral to bankrupt people for getting sick

          The start voting against God. Life's a bitch. People get sick and it can take a tremendous amount of resources to even mitigate that, and even that isn't reliable.

          and any society that has the ability to prevent this has a moral duty to.

          No society (yet) has the ability to keep illness from happening or from being expensive. But maybe some day we'll be able to climb into our autodocs. I'm all for encouraging technological development, and making government stop actively doing things that cause health care to be even more expensive than it would naturally be.

          But shuffling around who pays for what, doesn't fix anything. All that indirection can accomplish, is create opportunities and incentives for irresponsibility and fraud. You can't have billions of dollars filtered through the government without having a lot of it disappear, and you can't have government encode how it will be spent, without removing human judgement.

          If you say other governments have done it successfully, fine. I'm very skeptical, but even if I accept that, I know my government (USA) is too irresponsible and corrupt to do it. Show me they can handle a small project where the stakes are small, and maybe I'll trust them with something more important. Every time a Democrat criticizes the war in Iraq, they need to realize they are also criticizing universal health care. They're talking about having the exact same kind of people who handled one situation, handle the other.

          Falling home prices hurt everyone

          I don't own a house. Personall, falling prices are the best news I've ever heard. The price of houses are starting to approach the value of houses. What's wrong with that?

      • Re:Dolt (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:37PM (#23749787)

        It is not our responsibility to provide a safety net for bad practices - doing so brings the whole system down, because everyone starts thinking they can make mistakes and someone will protect them from the consequences (for free at that!)
        Your comment criticizes safety nets for irresponsible borrowing. But allow me to extend it to social programs in general (I'm not claiming this is your opinion, since I obviously don't know; I'm merely using your comment as a starting point for this thought...). Applied to social programs in general, your comment nicely highlights the difference in thinking between the two viewpoints.

        On the one side, you have people who believe that social safety nets bring down the whole system--because they are a burden to everyone (even those who are able to do without), and they allow people to be lazy.

        On the other side, you have people who believe that social safety nets bring up the whole system--because they limit the formation of a highly disenfranchised class (who then turn to crime, etc.), protect everyone (even those who have, so far, been lucky enough to not need them), and they allow people to take "risks" (like getting an education), which often leads to progress.

        Both viewpoints have some merit. On the balance, I think that a well-run social program can lift society more than the distributed burden it engenders (e.g. I think libraries do more good in educating than the cost we must communally bear to fund them). I do, however, agree that people need to take responsibility for their actions (e.g. irresponsible borrowing of money).
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by mweather (1089505)
        When I bought my house, there were easily several thousand pages of contracts. Either you have never bought a house, or you have an unrivaled tolerance for tedium.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PeeAitchPee (712652)

      Number of houses lost to predatory lenders - this is what deregulation is all about

      Please provide some concrete numbers differentiating the people who are the victim of "predatory lending" from those who were greedy and signed up for too large a house (along with the two SUVs and the new 52" flat screen they couldn't afford either -- all while saving nothing) -- I'm sure we'd all really like to see those.

      When people with no / bad credit can't get mortgages, they sue the government. When the government

  • Pretty close to CNN (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jeiler (1106393) <go...bugger...off@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @11:44AM (#23748697) Journal

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/06/10/electoral.map/index.html

    • by mh1997 (1065630) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @11:50AM (#23748819)
      Was there ever a time that the political "news" centered on the candidates and not polls and predictions?
      • by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:41PM (#23749861) Homepage
        You're being far too harsh. Today's political news certainly does focus on the candidates. Who paid what for a haircut, who teared up in front of the cameras, whether the candidate is black enough or too abrasive or can't bowl for crap or too old or too young. Then they discuss how each of these factors plays with the various "key demographics", whether they be white soccer moms, elderly Florida Jews, Cuban exiles, blue collar males, urban Hispanics, NASCAR dads, and the Amish.

        I think that the giant, sucking gap that you're noticing is a vacuous, superficial, talking-point centered discussion of *policy*. :)
    • Race not a factor ? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by adisakp (705706)
      Although it's not politically correct to say so, anyone who doesn't think Race is a factor need only look at this map. It looks like the North vs the South (with the West Coast siding with the North and all the plain states siding with the South)
  • by Iambic Pentametor (155674) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @11:46AM (#23748743)
    I visit http://www.electoral-vote.com/ [electoral-vote.com] every day.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PIPBoy3000 (619296)
      I do too, actually. His editorial comments are interesting, touching on statistics, politics, and the quirks of our electoral college. He's also a tech guy, and had to fend off some pretty serious DOS attacks during the last election cycle. I suppose you could argue that his commentary tends to lean left (after being anonymous for awhile, Votemaster came out as a democrat). In my mind, though, he seems fairly centrist and explains his methodology so that when the map shifts one way or another, you can s
      • by Falkkin (97268) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:41PM (#23749855) Homepage
        "also a tech guy" ... yes, and an infamous one: "LINUX is obsolete [...] LINUX is a monolithic style system. This is a giant step back into the 1970s. That is like taking an existing, working C program and rewriting it in BASIC. To me, writing a monolithic system in 1991 is a truly poor idea." -Andrew S. Tanenbaum, comp.os.minix, Jan. 29 1992.

        Right before the 2004 election, electoral-vote.com called the election for Kerry. Oops!

        I appreciate his sentiments and his methodology but it seems he doesn't have a great track record for picking winners :)
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by pjp6259 (142654)
          Right before the 2004 election, electoral-vote.com called the election for Kerry. Oops!

          nope. Here's the page from the day of the election:
          http://electoral-vote.com/evp2004/nov/nov02.html [electoral-vote.com]

          He gives Kerry 262 electoral votes. Since you need 270 to win, you can't really say he called it for Kerry.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sayfawa (1099071)
        I also find him very objective and non-biased, but I think he strives for that. His style really leaves one with the feeling that he's just an impartial observer who doesn't care one way or the other.

        A few days ago there was one line on his page that hinted at who he had preferred for the Democrat nominee (after Obama had already won) and it struck me that through all these months of coverage I previously had no indication of who he was going for.
  • by SputnikPanic (927985) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @11:48AM (#23748791)
    McCain 70-80% likely to pick up Florida? Obama 70-80% likely to grab Pennsylvania? Everyone is expecting those two to be big battleground states. Those probabilities seem pretty lofty to me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by EggyToast (858951)
      I read analysis of the "market" sites after 2004 and 2006. They were all reactionary, not forecasting, much like the regular stock market. Kerry was a longshot in the electoral "market," until he won. And when good news came out, he got a bump -- after the news was out. It responded to polls and followed the same news as anyone else in 2006, as well.

      Unsurprising, really -- these markets are populated by people who read the same news as everyone else. There's no "insiders" in politics that control vo
  • Best election site (Score:2, Interesting)

    by flerchin (179012)
    My favorite political predictor site is electoral-vote.com [electoral-vote.com]
    They use an amalgamation of national and statewide polls to show the current feeling of Americans on a wide variety of races. Including a national map with a current tally of the electoral votes right at the top.
  • For any popularity type contest from American Idol to Big Brother to the election I always look where the money's going. Usually I go to the bookies although I can't at the moment because I'm at work so let's look at who's raised more funding - that makes it look like Obama. Unscientific, but it's how I make my prediction.
  • The voting results maps by COUNTY of past elections. The pattern that clearly becomes visible is that the division in the US isn't so much right versus left or conservative versus liberal but RURAL-dweller versus URBAN-dweller. Taking that a step further, have you noticed that the urbanites are usually the ones on the environmental-protection bandwagon or the consumer-protection bandwagon (read: you can't have a trike ATV). The urbanites are the ones saying that we can't drill in Alaska. I'll bet that 9
  • Bear in mind this isn't some objective prediction, but what people think is going to happen. A lot of those people betting probably have a personal emotional investment in the outcome and are betting with their hearts, not their minds.

    Just like sports betting, where folk put money on their local team regardless of whether they're any good, or back a horse because they like the name.
  • by absent_speaker (905145) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @11:55AM (#23748923)
    If you interested in prediction markets, check out this wired article:

    http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/16-06/st_essay [wired.com]

    It's a good piece on some of the challenges prediction markets have: small trading populations, mostly community insiders trading on things they care/know a lot about, small stakes. It's an interesting read!
  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @11:57AM (#23748961)
    After only a string of 43 previous presidents, the country will finally rejoice when we elect a Christian male to the highest office in the land. It's about time! :P
  • Wait... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @11:57AM (#23748963)
    Should this map be on the Diebold site?
  • by alexc (37361) <alexc@nOspaM.sporks.org> on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:05PM (#23749113)
    Iowa state university has a really good prediction market also.
    You can see it here. [uiowa.edu] . they have 2 differenent election markets.. one is winer take all and the other is vote percentage..
  • by fluxrad (125130) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @12:53PM (#23750083) Homepage
    Prediction markets are still very "new" and participation is low. This is problematic for a couple of reasons. Primarily, prediction markets only work when there are arbitrage opportunities for individuals who actually know what's going to happen. They'll buy the security in question, and it's price will rise to the expected level. In any event - if insiders aren't controlling the price of a security then it's price won't reflect its real value.

    The problem comes in when no one really knows the answer. People will buy and sell these prediction securities on hunches or what not, but the actual price will not truly be reflective of the outcome of, say, an election. Case in point, a month after John McCain had secured the Republican nomination for President, his likelihood of becoming President was still trading at around $.39 (Intrade works on fractions of a dollar). Any reasonably intelligent person should have been able to forecast this price would shoot up to at least $.45 or better once the Democrats chose a candidate - Consider that presidential elections are usually around 50/50.

    The question was: why weren't people snatching these securities up like hotcakes? I still haven't been able to figure that out. But personally I think it proves the notion I heard someone else mention a while back. To paraphrase: these aren't prediction markets, they're extremely recent history markets.
  • by Steauengeglase (512315) on Wednesday June 11, 2008 @01:20PM (#23750623)
    I can't say I completely agree with the prediction that the GOP is going to have its usual steamrolller victories in the south. Most southern, hell, all republicans aren't all that enthusiastic about McCain. He is a hard candidate when it comes to polarizing your voter base. Simply put if the commies and pro-Antichrist liberals decided to take over America and turn your children into gay socialist, they don't believe he would do a whole lot to turn the tide.

    Also, no one seems to notice that there are plenty of black voters in the south. Contrary to what many in the media would have you believe, black voters aren't afraid to go to the polls; Sheriff Cracker hasn't been at the polls with his shotgun in a long, long time. The problem is that they, like every other voter group, seldom have a reason to go.

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