Monday, November 3, 2008

Though Dixville Notch has given Barak Obama an overwhelming victory, the Presidential State Futures markets suggest the election may not be an Obama landslide in the rest of the nation. Though Obama is predicted to win enough states to win the election, trading in eight states is still too close to call. Unfortunately for John McCain, even if he picks up all the undecided states, the total number of Electoral College votes would not be enough for him to win the election.

Nevada and Virginia are the two Obama-predicted states that have the least amount of Obama trader support. For John McCain to win, he would not only have to win all the states which are still too close to call, both Nevada and Virginia, and at least one Obama-held state that has a minimum of six Electoral College votes. States to watch would be some combination of Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Iowa, Pennsylvania, or New Hampshire.

Not impossible, but as we say in Iowa, it would be a "long row to hoe."

The time for voting has begun, and the Senate races in 2008 appear to be a mixed bag. Of the 31 races this year, the Intrade 2008 Senate race markets predict Republicans should win 14 races, while the Democrats are predicted to win in 19 states. The races in Georgia and Minnesota are still too close to call. Finally, Intrade traders predict Libby Dole will lose her Senate seat in North Carolina.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Spike's Predictions

Upholding the tradition of my political campaign research colleagues, based on the state-by-state results of Presidential Futures market, I pronounce the following:

Senator Obama, the data suggests you will be the next President of the United States.

Based on the most recent trends in those states which are too close to call, it appears Senator McCain will capture all of them but Ohio. However, even if he would win Ohio, it would still not be enough for him to win the election.

Senator ___, the data suggests...

There is a ritual in Presidential campaigns that goes widely unnoticed by both the press and the public. Late in the night on the Saturday prior to a Presidential election (or the following Sunday morning, depending on the candidate's schedule), the candidate and his/her national campaign leadership team meet with the campaign's polling team to learn the fate of the election. 

This ritual, beginning in the late 1970s, crosses party lines and is one of the most sacred in all of research. The polling team assembles with the campaign staff and awaits the arrival of the candidate. When the candidate enters the room, all rise until motioned to seat down by the candidate.

The head pollster then utters one of two phrases:

"Senator ___, the data suggests that you will not be elected the next President of the United States," or

"Senator ___, the data suggests that you will be elected the next President of the United States." 

Regardless of which sentence is uttered, if it looks to be a close election, each candidate's schedule is reviewed and adjusted to emphasize the states that need last minute support. If it looks to be a blowout, the losing candidate typically will begin scheduling states where Senators or Congressman need help. 

Though there has been an aura of confidence surrounding the possibility of an Obama win in 2008, the data suggests it could be closer than what many people realize. The bottom-line, however, is that even if McCain were to win all the states that are currently "too close to call," he would still not receive enough Electoral College votes to win the election.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Race Tightens a Little More

The Intrade Presidential Futures Market Race by State tightened again this week, with just five days until the election. With Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, and Nevada still up for grabs, Barak Obama still does not have a lock on the election. However, traditionally-Republican states have begun to soften. Georgia,  North & South Dakota, and Montana -- all states that are typically solid Republican strongholds -- have drifted from solid Republican predictors to "too close to call." 

This may be bad news for John McCain, but the trends so far don't suggest an Obama "mandate" like some have previously predicted.  As the vast majority of voters traditionally decide their Presidential choice no later than three days prior to the election, we should know something more definitive Sunday morning. As an early read from the campaigns, watch for John McCain to start touting down-ticket races as a sign they believe they have lost. On the Democratic side, watch for the Obama campaign to start adding additional campaign stops, especially in Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, or Florida if they think the race is going to be close.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Race Agains Tightens (a little)

The Presidential Futures Market data suggests the Presidential race tightened a bit this week. Even though the markets are still predicting an Obama victory, Florida, Nevada and Virginia moving from a tenuous Democratic lead, North Dakota (traditionally a strong Republican state) moving into toss-up territory, and Montana moving back into Republican hands suggests the race may be closer than some analysts are currently predicting.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Obama Goes Over the Top

With Colorado, Florida, New Hampshire, and Virginia moving into the Democratic column, and Georgia, Montana, and South Carolina moving from the Republican column to "Too Close to Call," the Democratic Party appear poised to win the Electoral College on November 4th. Coupled with Barak Obama's probability-of-winning moving over the 80th percintile, the Presidential race is beginning to look like a convincing win for the Democrats with just three weeks to go.

The Third Presidential Debate...

A couple interesting findings from the Presidential Futures Market trading as a result of the Third Presidential debate...
  • During and immediately after the debate, McCain shares were trading at over twice the rate compared to Obama. 
  • Compared to the volitility seen during the first and second debates, the the price levels of trades held steady throughout the third debate. 
  • Immediately after the debate; however, there were large changes in positions, as Obama's price levels spiked while McCain's levels fell rapidly.

The Wobbly Senate Races...

A review of the U.S. Senate Futures markets suggest things aren't so great in Dixie...

In states that have been solidly Republican in the recent past, the Republican South seems to have cracks in its armor. At this time, the Senate races in Georgia, North Carolina, and Kentucky are still too close to call. Even the Senate seat previously held by hard-core Republican Trent Lott is too close to call. Finally, traditionally-Republican states of Virgina, Louisiana, and Montana are also predicted to go Democratic at this time. 

It May have Ended September 15th...

If Barak Obama eventually goes on to win the 2008 Presidential election, one could conciveably point to September 15, 2008 as the day John McCain lost the election. An analysis of the Presidential Futures Market shows McCain's probability of winning the election peaked on September 15th, the same day Barak Obama's chances bottomed-out prior to moving through the eighty-percent, probability-of-winning level.

The analysis also suggests that the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates made absolutely no difference in changing the direction of each candidate's probability-of-winning trends. The convential wisdom would suggest the race should tighten in the next two weeks. However, unless Senator Obama stumbles badly, the mind-set of the American people is somehow moved off the economy, or Senator McCain's campaign suddenly finds a campaign theme that begins resonating with larger numbers of voters, this election could already be decided.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Second Presidential Debate

Who "won" the second 2008 Presidential debate? Well, it depends when you asked the question...

If you look at the Presidential Futures Market trading during the debate through the 24 hours afterward, you can see four different answers...

During the first part of the debate, the candidates were essentially tied (in terms of change). When the debate moved into the foreign policy section, McCain's numbers spiked rapidly as Obama's numbers tanked.  However, the more McCain and Obama delved into specfics of foreign policy issues, McCain's numbers tanked as fast as they previously rose, as Obama's numbers rose rapidly.

By the time the debate was over, trading for each candidate moved back to the pre-debate trading levels. However, after stable overnight trading levels, Obama's trading levels have risen approximately eight percent throughout today, as McCain's levels have fallen almost twenty percent over the same time period.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Following John McCain's concession of Michigan, an analysis of the Presidential Futures market state-by-state data shows Barak Obama inching closer to the 271 Electoral College votes needed to predict him the winner of the 2008 Presidential race. Investors now predict Obama will take Michigan. In addition, New Mexico is also now predicted to go to Obama. As of today, Obama is predicted to garner 265 Electoral College votes to McCain's 158 votes, leaving 115 votes to close to call.

These shifts leave only Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Colorado, and Missouri in play. As of today, with the exception of Nevada and New Hampshire, Obama only needs to pick up one of the remaining states to be predicted the winner in November.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Electoral College turned a little bluer this week, as seen by an analysis of the current data from the state-by-state Presidential Futures market. Pennsylvania, with its 21 Electoral College votes, and a trio of midwest states -- Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin -- are now predicted to go to Barak Obama. One the Republican side, Montana is now predicted to be won by John McCain. As of today, Barak Obama is predicted to receive 243 Electoral College votes, compared to John McCain's 158 votes. 

Friday, September 26, 2008

First Debate Results

The first 2008 Presidential debate appears to have helped John McCain more the Barak Obama. McCain, who has been in a slide for the last week, appears to have helped -- at least temporarily -- provide support for his campaign by his performance tonight.

As seen in the simultaneous trade-by-trade Presidential Futures Market contracts for both McCain and Obama during the course of the debate, it is clear that traders saw McCain's performance as better than Obama. 

Of interest are the two moments during the debate (8:34 CDT and 9:11 CDT) at which there were significant reversals in both candidate's trading positions. 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Presidential Race Begins Anew...

With the financial services crisis in full swing, the Republicans bump out of their convention was short-lived. As of close of trading on September 18th, the probability of Obama and McCain winning the November Presidential election is tied -- 50% to 50% -- according to trading on the Presidential Futures market. 

Obama’s return to tie on Intrade comes in the midst of a tumultuous week for the McCain-Palin campaign. McCain has been criticized as being out of touch after claiming the U.S. economy remains fundamentally strong, even as Intrade indicates there is a 50% chance of a recession in 2009.  Palin has been criticized for using private email accounts to circumvent Alaskan freedom of information laws, while key campaign supporter Carly Fiorina criticized her as being unsuited to run a large company.

Finally, the next thirty days could prove critical for each campaign. Given the number of states that allow early voting, and the Obama campaign's targeted voter registration and absentee ballot efforts, the number of voters casting votes prior to Election Day could decide the race as much as three weeks in advance.

Monday, September 15, 2008

September 14th Electoral College Predictions

The 2008 Electoral College Prediction Markets tightened slightly this week according to analysis using State-by-State Presidential Futures Market data. 

1) Montana went from being held by Republicans to to-close-to-call.
2) North Carolina moved into the Republican column.
3) The District of Columbia moved into the Democratic column.

This leaves 14 states with 173 electoral votes up for grabs.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Palin-mania Spreading to Canada?  

Is Sarah Palin's rousing support from the right-wing electorate spilling over into Canada? Intrade's Political Prediction Markets on the upcoming Canadian Federal election would suggest so.

John McCain has seen his chances surge by 35% from 39.0 on the morning he announced the Palin pick to 52.8 as of 7:00AM EST today.

The Conservative Party of Canada's chances to win the October 14th election have jumped by 25% from 65.0 to 81.5 over the same time. The Liberal Party of Canada is now trading at an election-cycle low of 18.5.



Wednesday, September 10, 2008

September 7, 2008 Electoral College Predictions

As the "future next President of the United States" Al Gore learned first-hand, winning the popular vote was great, but you have to win 271 Electoral College votes to receive the keys to the White House.  The 2008 Presidential election again promises to be close, and a look at the Electoral College map suggests the race is more wide open than some people may think.

Many pundits believe the race is coming down to just a few states. Chuck Todd political research director for NBC news has said the race is going to come down to four states. However, an analysis of's state-by-state Presidential futures markets suggests there may be as many as fifteen states in play.

The Obama campaign appears to be cognizant of the importance of winning the Electoral College. Recently, they opened a campaign office in Omaha, Nebraska. Why in Nebraska -- a long-time Republican stronghold? Because Nebraska (in addition to Maine) votes by Congressional District,  as opposed the "winner takes all" method used by the rest of the country. The Obama campaign feels they may be able to win the Congressional District surrounding Omaha -- thus winning them an additional Electoral College vote.

Over the next seven weeks, I'll be revising the Electoral College Prediction map to to and identify the real "battleground" states in the 2008 Presidential election.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A review of's Presidential Futures Market data for the periods surrounding each party's convention revealed some interesting patterns. In order to compare the market strength of each party (the "convention bump"), I used a baseline of the closing price for Obama and McCain on the Thursday prior to the start of each convention. This was done to see the capture the effect of Sarah Palin's nomination for Vice President.

The market did a nice job of forecasting the post-convention tightening of the Presidential race. Obama's strength actually peaked the evening of Hillary Clinton's speech, and declined every subsequent night. Despite all the hoopla, Obama's support prior to the convention was actually higher than after his speech on Thursday night.

In contrast, after an initial bump after Palin's announcement, McCain's support fell below his baseline support. The low point of the Republican convention happened after Joe Lieberman's speech; however, McCain's support increased throughout the rest of the convention. Unlike Obama, McCain's support was higher and increasing at the end of his convention.