Thursday, December 25, 2008

Bettors Beat Pundits

The collective wisdom of people who risked their own money beat every pundit on the presidential election. From one of my favorite science journalists - John Tierney at NY Times. Bettors Beat Pundits - TierneyLab Blog -
We debated the merits of collective wisdom earlier this year, after the bettors in the the Intrade online prediction market wrongly picked Barack Obama to win the New Hampshire primary. The bettors are looking more savvy now that the election’s over and the last undecided state, Missouri, has finally been called for John McCain. Once again, collective wisdom backed by cash has triumphed over conventional wisdom — at least when you compare the Intrade bettors with some of the pundits who get paid to make predictions. On the morning of Election Day, I printed out the expectations from the Dublin-based Intrade market as well as a roundup of predictions from nearly two dozen political consultants, journalists and academics that appeared at the Huffington Post. The Intrade bettors expected Mr. Obama to end up with 364 votes in the Electoral College — one less than he actually got. None of the pundits came so close. Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory, came closest with prediction of 361; all the rest were off by at least 12 votes. Nate Silver, the much-talked-about statistician at, underestimated Mr. Obama’s tally by 18 votes. Many of the pundits underestimated Mr. Obama’s total by more than 25 votes, like Chris Matthews, Arianna Huffington, and the strategists Paul Begala, James Carville and Alex Castellanos.

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