Prediction one: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will win their parties’ nominations. Prediction two: Clinton will take the White House handily. At least, that’s what political wagering websites say.
These operations, which distill the wisdom of crowds, turn out to be surprisingly solid when it comes to predicting presidential races. Their record for accuracy outdoes that of opinion polls.
Most Web-based political investment markets — they don’t like to call themselves betting pools, not wanting to run up against online gambling bans — are structured to run much like commodity futures exchanges.
According to the oldest such election bourse, the Iowa Electronic Markets, which has been operating since 1988, Trump has 85 percent odds of capturing the Republican nomination this year; Clinton has a 90 percent chance of gaining the Democratic prize. And the Democrats’ candidate in the fall is the favorite, by 67-33 percent. (The Iowa market, run by the University of Iowa, doesn’t put a person’s name at the head of the ticket before the party’s nominating convention.)
That’s a slightly better result for Clinton than the Bloomberg poll finds: 54 percent for her and 36 percent for Trump.
Another prominent exchange that trafficks in the presidential contest is Predictit, a two-year-old organization run by Victoria University in New Zealand, with a Washington, D.C., office. Both the Iowa exchange and Predictit received OKs from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to operate. The two organizations view themselves as more of an academic experiment than a business.