T Nation

To Hell with Polls: Money Talks


June 25, 2004, 8:54 a.m.
Good Money?s on W.
What the real professionals think about the presidential race.

President Bush’s job-approval rating is close to low ebb, if you buy into what the major polling organizations are saying. With even the most optimistic numbers barely reaching 50 percent, and falling as low as 42, the chances of Bush serving a second term seem to shrink with every passing day.

But polls aren’t infallible. As we have learned, many polls ? most notably from the Los Angeles Times ? have heavily overweighted Democrats and underweighted Republicans. The Washington Post poll of 1,201 adults contained only 1,050 registered voters, and the remaining 20 percent who are ineligible to vote undoubtedly weighted the entire sample with a pro-Democrat bias.

However, Bush is doing much better in one group’s opinion: the investor class. Look at the markets in Bush reelection futures:

The Iowa Electronic Market’s winner-takes-all presidential market (http://www.biz.uiowa.edu/iem/index.html) opened on June 1, and the outlook is good for Bush. The contract on George Bush’s reelection opened at a healthy 55 cents, and reached a high of 63. Even at its low for the day, the Bush contract was still worth more than Kerry’s, which never finished a day’s trading above 50 cents. In order to bet you have to pay to play ? but it only costs five dollars. After three weeks of trading, the Bush contract is still at 55 cents, while Kerry’s remains stuck at 45.

The Iowa Market isn’t the only market on which Bush election futures are bought and sold. There has been heavy trading on the popular online gambling website TradeSports (http://www.tradesports.com/) , a site featured in the pages of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times as a leading market for political futures. TradeSports has offered the Bush contract since January of last year, 18 months before the Iowa Market opened. The outlook there is almost as cheery as the Iowa market’s ? the value of the contract has been hovering in the high 50s since the end of May, climbing to 58 this week.

After Saddam’s capture on December 13, the price skyrocketed to 75 dollars. But in recent months, despite the best economic news we have had in years, the contracts have been steadily losing value, as the news from Iraq worsens. With the abuses committed at Abu Ghraib and Bush’s ever-declining job-approval numbers, the contracts sank to a low of around 52 dollars. After Bush’s speech at the Army War College on May 27, the contract began moving back up, hovering around 56 dollars. On June 2, the price reached 57 dollars. As of today, it’s risen one dollar.

If you’re not interested in futures, there is always gambling, pure and simple. And online betting site William Hill (http://www.willhill.com/iibs/EN/sportsbook.asp) is offering a chance to bet on the outcome of the next presidential election. Even they, until recently, favored Bush ? he got odds of 1.72, while Kerry got 2, favored by roughly 30 percent; the odds have since equalized at 1.83 for both candidates.

The fact that the Iowa Market opened so strongly for Bush even after the hits he has taken in recent weeks shows how strong he is relative to his market. The Iowa Market has it slightly higher than TradeSports or InTrade, but the investors in all three of them see the probability of a Bush reelection standing in the mid 50-percent range, even with the months of bad war news. If Bush survives the past months, and it looks now as though he will do just that, it’s hard to imagine any event that could derail his chances of victory with relative strength like this, with the exception of total failure in Iraq or a wholesale economic collapse. Neither is likely.

Although the contracts bought and sold on the Iowa market don’t represent big money, don’t let that fool you ? as New Yorker staff writer James Surowiecki put it in his new book, The Wisdom of Crowds (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/
ASIN/0385503865/ref%3Dnosim/nationalreviewon/102-6194377-6025756) , this group of “a few hundred amateur traders in the middle of Iowa” has done “a better job of predicting election results than the Gallup poll has.” How well has it done? From 1988 to 2000, the IEM was off just 1.37 percent in its election-eve prices for presidential elections. If this doesn’t prove that crowds and market wisdom are usually more accurate than expert pollsters or any media elite, I don’t know what does. Kerry’s promise to roll back tax cuts makes him unattractive to the investor class, or the gambling class, or whoever else plays these contracts, but if you care enough to place a bet, you’re probably going to vote. Apparently, a majority of these folks, whoever they are, think Bush is still a good bet. In terms of cents and sensibilities, let us hope they are right.

Forget the Democrats: Bush Losing Support Among Republicans
Jun 18, 2004,

As President George W. Bush tries to convince an increasingly skeptical American electorate he deserves re-election in November, he also faces declining support among his Republican base amid growing discord over his foreign and domestic policies.

The gloom among Republicans is deepening as President Bush falls behind Democratic nominee John F. Kerry, says University of Virginia Political Science Professor Larry J. Sabato. At the heart of the gloom is Iraq. Bush’s presidency is–by his own admission–inextricably bound to Iraq, and things are going very badly there, Sabato adds.

Bush’s Iraq woes deepened this week when the 9-11 Commission concluded no link existed between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. With the earlier claim of weapons of mass destruction already discredited, the commission’s finding removed the last of Bush’s questionable justifications for the war in Iraq.

Even Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, refuses to publicly endorse his son’s Iraq war and an increasing number of prominent Republicans and Conservatives are straying off the reservation.

Among these is Bob Barr, a staunch conservative and former Republican Congressman from Georgia. However, Barr has teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union to fight the USA Patriot Act, which he says infringes on rights of Americans, and is a frequent critic of other Bush policies, including immigration amnesty and the proposal for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

“The political right and left in America share one unfortunate habit,” Barr says. “When they don’t get their way in courts of law or state legislatures they immediately seek to undercut all opposition by proposing an amendment to the Constitution.”

Barr isn’t the only Republican to jump the GOP ship since Bush took the helm. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey says the Justice Department under Bush has “become the biggest threat to personal liberty in the country.” Armey has joined Barr and the ACLU to fight the USA Patriot Act and a number of new Bush proposals to increase the powers of the Justice Department. So has conservative Phyllis Schlafly, head of the Eagle Forum.

Pat Buchanan, the firebrand conservative who ran against both Bushes in GOP primaries, joins the Bush bashers with his new book, Where the Right Went Wrong. Buchanan’s book, scheduled to be released just before the GOP convention this summer, blasts Bush for ‘igniting a war of civilizations.’

The Bush campaign took another hit this week when the family of late, and popular, President Ronald Reagan demanded Reagan’s image be removed from an conservative group’s ad endorsing Bush. The family has also told the Bush campaign it does not want the former President’s images and words used in any official campaign ads.

But it’s not just prominent Republicans who feel uneasy about the incumbent GOP President.

George Meagher of Charleston, South Carolina, is a veteran and lifelong Republican who, by his own admission, put his “heart and soul” into working for George W. Bush in 2000. Meagher organized veterans and once proudly displayed pictures of him and his wife with Bush.

No more. Meagher may vote Democratic this fall because he’s fed up with what he sees as lies and deceit by President Bush and the Republican leadership in Washington.

“I should be all choked up at not supporting the President,” says Meagher. “But when I think about the many Americans killed in a war, with what we’ve done to Iraq and with what we’ve done to our own country, I can’t see any other way. Look at it. We’re already $2 trillion in debt. Something has to be done.”

John Scarnado, a registered Republican and sales manager from Austin, Tex., voted for Bush in 2000 but now says he will vote for John Kerry if the Massachusetts Senator wins the Democratic nomination.

Scarnado cites Iraq and Vice President Dick Cheney’s ties to scandal-scarred Halliburton as two reasons he can’t vote for Bush again.

“It’s just too much old boy politics with the Bush administration,” Scarnado says. “I don’t like that.”

Neither does Londonderry, New Hampshire farmer Mike Cross, who voted Republican in 2000 and who says he doesn’t care much for John Kerry but has “had enough of George W. Bush.”

Pollsters agree, saying Bush’s declining approval ratings - now well below 50 percent - match the last three incumbent Presidents to lose their re-election bids – Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush.

“Bush is in dangerous territory now,” says GOP pollster John Zogby.



You respond to my article about something that is more accurate than a poll with an older article about polling data? And that makes sense how?

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:

You respond to my article about something that is more accurate than a poll with an older article about polling data? And that makes sense how?[/quote]

I was thinking the exact same thing…

I third that.


They are both published opinions that don’t mean very much… one supports those that support Bush and one doesn’t. Gee, no logic there I guess!

[quote]vroom wrote:
They are both published opinions that don’t mean very much… one supports those that support Bush and one doesn’t. Gee, no logic there I guess![/quote]


Being a professional advocate, I appreciate your general devil’s advocacy and gadfly observations.

However, in this case I think you’re mistaken. Lumpy’s post really had only very minimal relation to what I posted, in that it did not deal with the information. It seemed particularly pathetic given that one of the main points of the article I posted was that the polls are unreliable, and so he posts an article about a poll.

I, of course, am presuming he actually wanted to argue a point, rather than just post something where it seemed like it might fit. He’s seemingly been doing a lot of that - either that or he really has no concept logical relations or how to argue.

Nah, I just felt like yanking your chain.

Am I supposed to be surprised or give a frig that the “Investor Class” hopes Bush will win?

You guys might be more concerned with what Joe Average thinks, not JP Morgan.

[quote]Lumpy wrote:
Nah, I just felt like yanking your chain.

Am I supposed to be surprised or give a frig that the “Investor Class” hopes Bush will win?

You guys might be more concerned with what Joe Average thinks, not JP Morgan.


Apparently the “Investor Class” thinks more like Joe Average than the people in your polls, given the fact the above markets predict the final voter percentages with greater accuracy than your polls.

At least, provided Joe Average is a voter. But given the point of all of this, I would posit that voters are the only ones whose opinions actually count.


You are going to be one sad dude the day after the Presidential election my man! Bush will win! Kerry is not candidate enough to beat him. And things are going to go the Presidents way. Iraq improves only minimally. The economy is now on the right track. Bush wins by 2% to 5%.

I’m the common man and I hope they both get hammer-fucked by Kobe Bryant on coke. Who’s with me? Who cares about supporting either one. They are so far from regular guys who will represent the people it’s rediculous. GWB supposedly went to Yale, but can’t talk or read. Is this a joke he’s putting on us because it’s fucking hilarious. John Kerry is a douchebag from Mass(say that in your stupid chowderhead accent) who married a rich bitch so he gets to play president and has a face bigger than the hood of my car. I still can’t figure out what he believes in, other that wanting to be President. I hate career politicians. They are supposed to be in the know about how all this shit works, but they seem to be the most clueless. A shitty smile and a line of bullshit that could dazzle a used car salesman seem to be the true deciding factors. Who’s leading in that race? Of course thats just my opinion.

[quote]Pretzel Logic wrote:
GWB supposedly went to Yale, but can’t talk or read. Is this a joke he’s putting on us because it’s fucking hilarious. [/quote]

To put Bush’s education in perspective, I got a full scholarship to Harvard, Yale, and M.I.T. and I’m a total dumbass.

That’s what you get when you try and let a bunch of damn yankees try yo teach you something.


“Joe Average” is the the “Investor Class” - how many Joe Averages have a 401k?

Joe Average wants that market to go up just as much as JP Morgan does. We’re all invested.

Man, I thought this thread was about something else…but I’ll second the motion, let’s all be vaginatarians.