Monday, October 11, 2010

Three Weeks - And A Sucker Bet

As of tomorrow (Tuesday), the 2010 Elections will be only three weeks away, and many news outlets are ramping up their political coverage, attempting to tell one oversimplified narrative or another.

Except, as the facts prove, there is no simple narrative that applies to this election cycle.

That's not something you're likely to hear from many of the cable television "news" channels or the radio talk shows over the next three weeks. You will hear it from us, and you will hear from our information sources, like the great team at fivethirtyeight.com.

Over the past weekend, Nate Silver and his team published their latest House forecast - with a great number of caveats. This earned them scorn from sectors of the political media realm, but great praise from us. Nate went over his methodology and reasoning in a second article published on Sunday, but the bottom line from Nate - a former professional gambler - is this:

"One good bet you might consider taking up with a friend this year, for instance, is asking him to forecast the number of Republican gains within a range of ±5 seats. If our analysis of this race is correct, then no matter which number he picks, you’ll be at least a 3:1 favorite to win this bet..."

There are a great many factors that have led to this kind of severe uncertainty; one factor is that significantly more Congressional races have contenders from both major parties this year. Another is that both sides have been actively campaigning for more than a year in most of these races, which is unusual for a midterm election. Another factor is the unlimited corporate money - and even questionably foreign money - flowing into outside political action groups, due to the horribly poor "Citizens United" Supreme Court ruling.

The long and short of it all is this: you'll likely hear forecasts of the number of Congressional seats Republicans may pickup from all kinds of media outlets over the next few weeks, all ranging somewhere in the mid forties. However, the statistics and factual data that Nate and his team - the best in the business - look at says any number around 50 has a plus or minus chance of around 30 seats in being correct. Meaning Republicans could pick up nearly 80 seats - or as few as 17.

So, over the next three weeks, while there will likely be a heavy push from corporate backed media organizations to claim one political party will "almost certainly" win or lose, the statistics and facts say otherwise. It's still anyone's election to win or lose.

Our suggestion to you, our readers is this: If you're looking to make some extra money for the holidays, find one of these overly certain fools from either party - and follow Nate's suggestion.

We just ask that when you win, you remember us - preferably with cash.

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