Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tuesday's Election Predictions

There's no way from watching the news how one can get a sense of how an upcoming election will turn out. Candidates and political parties do not provide legitimate assessments of their chances, but rather engage in posturing. News organizations don't want to influence elections by saying there is a particular inevitable outcome. Polls are caveated with a margin of error and distorted because of significant early absentee voting. All we can glean is that the Republicans have a good chance to gain at least 39 House seats and a remote chance of getting 51 in the Senate. Interestingly today's news is full of increased public optimism from the Democrats that they'll hold both chambers and caution by the Republicans in assessing what will happen on Tuesday. Indeed, RNC Chairman Steele said that even if the Republicans came close to taking the House, it would be a significant accomplishment. So is the tide really turning? Certainly the news and public statements say "Yes."

But as I mentioned before, there is a neat resource called Intrade, where futures contracts are traded on all sorts of political and other events of public interest. And today, the futures for Republican control of the House are still over 90, and the overs/unders for Republican House gains is right about 60. So it seems in reality that nothing has changed. One interesting event is a surge today in the futures on Republicans taking at least 50 Senate seats (and particularly the Senate being split 50-50), a one day increase from 21 to 32. Still long odds, but something significant must have happened today to trigger such a jump.

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