View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Monday, May 17, 2004

Election Markets 

For years now, the University of Iowa business school has been running an electronic market where you can buy shares of a candidate. The shares come in two flavors: chance of winning, and percentage of vote total. This market has been among the most accurate of "polls" in the last few elections. For some time now, the Bush/Kerry race, despite the ups and downs in the polls, has been pretty steady, at Bush 52%, Kerry 47%. The last week or so, though, has seen the Kerry numbers climb up from about 46% to 48%. Here's the graph.

A couple of points. The movement is small, and it hasn't broken through the previous high, so it may not be significant. Also, Bush's numbers haven't deteriorated at all. Finally, sometimes it take a while for people to believe that a candidate really is vulnerable, and then the deterioration happens quickly. This happened to Bush pere in 1992, and should serve as a warning.

At the same time, Tradesports, which did a nice job with the California recall election, only has a winner-take-all proposition. The numbers there show Bush's chances settling in at about 55%, after peaking just after Saddam's capture. They're basically moving sideways at this point.

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