Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Election Is Over

Yes, I know the calendar says it's September and there are still seven weeks to go until election day. But the election is over and the Republicans will be taking a pounding. A year ago, Intrade futures pegged President Obama's chances of re-election at no more than 50 percent, and the prospects for a Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate were riding at 80 percent. The first to turn was the presidential race, when this past spring some good economic numbers shot Obama's odds up to 60 percent. They receded two or three points this summer as the economy seemed to stall. However as it became clear that even though national polls showed a neck and neck race, the electoral numbers didn't add up for Mitt Romney, Obama's odds surged past 60 percent. Add to this Romney's remarks about the 47 percent of Americans who pay no federal income tax, and Obama's odds are now 70 percent.

Now unseating an incumbent president is always a difficult proposition so an upcoming Obama re-election would be far from shocking under any circumstances. However what is shocking is the evaporation of the prospect that the Republicans will control the Senate. Even last month the odds favored a Republican senate, but almost overnight the odds on Republican Senatorial control have plummeted to 20 percent. I'm not sure what triggered such a rapid reversal of fortune. Certainly, the pigheadedness of Rep. Akin in turning a certain victory in Missouri into a certain loss didn't help. More likely, Romney's comments about the 47 percent, while probably not that significant since he wasn't going to win the election anyway, possibly sets up an Obama landslide that will submerge a number of Republican Senatorial candidates in its wake.

Of course futures tradings in political events is highly volatile and it is possible that things may turn again. Indeed during election day of 2004, the odds on a Kerry victory shot up to over 60 percent, thanks to the release of exit polling numbers that eventually turned out to be inaccurate. But unless President Obama is photographed kicking kittens or punching first graders, such a reversal of fortune appears to be unlikely.

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