Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Odds of McCain Winning

I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the online gambling sites and see what they are offering in terms of odds for either Obama or McCain, should you want to back up your prediction by putting a few bucks on it.  To me, this election still seems like it could go either way with a lot riding on what happens in the next few weeks.  The oddsmakers disagree with me.  They think it's extremely likely that our next President will be Barack Obama.  

If you want to bet on McCain, you can make money faster than by being the CEO of Blackwater during a Bush Administration.  Put a cool 10 mil down on Johnny Mac and take home $15,000,000 on November 5th.  Five million dollars never came so easily!
I only mention this because these are some very serious analysts of the American electoral process.  Unlike Keith Olbermann or Joe Scarborough, they actually can lose a lot of money if they are wrong.  They are in business and not looking to give away money.  If they are offering a buck fifty for your dollar bet, they are pretty sure what the result is going to be.  Of course they are wrong "all the time".  But what you don't see is the precentage of times that they nail compared to the times they are wrong.  They could be wrong this time, but they're in the business of being right.  Bet on it.


Some non-gamblers think it's even more of a sure thing.  Polling site FiveThirtyEight, based on how things are shaping up from an electoral point of view, currently has Obama taking in 311.5 electoral votes (270 needed to elect) and rates his chances of winning at 74.4%.  

Hey, I hope all of this is accurate.  I'll still be one surprised guy if Obama wins - let alone so easily.  These are, after all, the Democrats running against the GOP machine.


Grumpy Lion said...

One could note that the Republican machine is running on old fart gas and broken-down minds.

PhillyChief said...

For me, this election is the biggest test of American stupidity yet. Obama is clearly the better candidate, but I'm seriously starting to believe McCain will win. Seeing Obama win will convince me that most of Americans are not quite as stupid as I think they are (well, those who bother to vote, at least). We'll see.

So where are these gambling sites? I like your thinking, look at the sites where they ACTUALLY have a vested interest in predicting accurately. Bookies certainly would be motivated to guess right.

John Evo said...

Philly (or anyone interested) just Google "Presidency Gambling Odds" and you'll get a ton of sites - both off-shore and Vegas.

John Evo said...

Also, RE you comment about the bookie's motivation - that's why I tossed in the the polling info. We have a tendency to concentrate on the "horse race" info. Obama 47% McCain 46% is actually fairly meaningless, as you know. It's all about the Electoral College and Obama still has a sizable advantage there.

PhillyChief said...

Probably a better place for one's money at the moment than your IRA or 401k. I mean, you might as well throw your money out the window than add to those, or bet on a candidate.

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

I used to work for one of Australia largest non-Government gambling houses.

They never got an election result wrong while I was there American or Australian, state or federal.

I would say unless something changes dramatically Obama will win.

PhillyChief said...

Does that house have a website?

Anonymous said...

I've never been a good gambler. Your odds of winning increase exponentially if you pick something other than what I pick.

Just warning you.

The Exterminator said...

Here's a sure bet: Will the American people be lied to and screwed by the next president?

I'm all in on "Yes."

John Evo said...

Ex, you have to bet $10 to win $1 if Obama wins. $300 to win $1 on McCain. More reason to help Obama win. You'll be able to make more money later when he screws us.

Brendan said...

They could be wrong this time, but they're in the business of being right. Bet on it.

I won't. I have heard two reasons not to.

First, there is a growing sense that the betting markets for things like "who's going to win election X" are not much more than laggin indicators of public opinion. Here's one example; Googling will get you more.

Second, Nate Silver thinks there's something fishy with Intrade in particular. There are indications that it's being gamed, with the possible motivation of trying to boost the appearance of McCain's chances, with the reasoning that it's cheaper to do this than to buy TV ads.

Not saying either theory is definite, but they are both things to think about. Keep your money in your pocket, I say.

Brendan said...