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2020 Election Season Articles

Prediction Markets Defy Polls
May 11, 2020
Polling data is still thin, but there have been three recently-conducted polls for a general election faceoff between Biden and Trump. Monmouth, The Economist, and CNBC all have published results as recently as May 6th -- and all three have Biden showing a lead over Trump. As of May 11th, prediction markets Betfair, PredictIt and PredictWise remain unbudging with Trump showing a lead over Biden. This is the first unmistakable disconnect of the season between polling and prediction markets.


This disconnect seems to hold even if you zoom out and look at a wider sample than just these three polls and three prediction markets. As of May 11, 2020, the Real Clear Politics national average of polls shows Biden with a +4.4 spread, while their Betting Odds average shows Trump with an 8.1 point lead for Trump. Even this early in the season, one has to wonder why there is a healthy 12 point gap between what the polls are saying and how people are actually betting with real money. Nate Silver's fivethirtyeight.com site is not currently showing a spread on their main politics page, opting instead to run Trump's Presidential approval number, currently 44%. We already know that metric has marginal utility, as Barack Obama's approval percentage in May of 2012 hovered around 47%, and he ended up sailing to an easy victory that November.


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