Readers of this blog will know that I like polls, and frequently report the poll results on this blog. I know that polls are not an exact science (and many of them turn out to not be very accurate), but they can give people an educated guess as to where an election stands (especially if a lot of them are looked at, rather than just one).
Right now, the polls are saying this will be a close election. I'm not so sure -- at least, I don't think it will be close in the Electoral College. The popular vote might be closer than the electoral vote, because it seems that Romney's margin is bigger in the red states than Obama's margin in the blue states, but our president's aren't elected by popular vote. I'm still thinking Obama will win most of the swing states (and hold the blue states), and that will give him the electoral majority. I am glad the polls are showing it to be close though, because that will scare a lot of Democrats and Independents and get them to the polls.
The NBC News website has an interesting article though, about something that could be more accurate than the polls -- betting parlors. A professor of economics and finance at Nottingham University, Vaughan Williams, has conducted a 12 year study of how well online betting sites have predicted the outcome of U.S. presidential elections (starting with the Bush/Gore election in 2000). And Williams says the betting sites have been more accurate than the polls in predicting the eventual winner. Here's why:
Vaughan Williams says betting websites offer a far more accurate prediction of electoral outcomes than opinion polls because the average voter doesn’t have any incentive to tell a pollster the truth about their voting habits, but when they are betting their own money they will tend to think hard about the choices they make using the best information available to them. The more money involved, the more efficient and accurate the market, he said.
So, who is going to be this year's winner? President Obama has led the betting market all year long, although their have been ups and downs as various events have happened (including the debates). The president went into the third debate with a 65% chance of winning. But after that debate, more money has flowed in betting on the president, and he is now given a 68% to 70% chance of winning.