Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Maybe the coolest online politics game (but there's a catch)

Over the weekend my family and I visited the Library of Congress and saw two exhibitions that are closing soon: one on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the other on the Bay Psalm Book and early American printing.  Both were terrific to see in person, and the Library's companion websites are also very valuable (click here to link to the CRA-64, and here for the Bay Psalm Book), ... but they're not the subject of this post.

Walking to the Library I saw this intruiging store-front sign:
When I got home I started reading about PredictIt.  PredictIt is a political forecasting website.  It was created as a research tool by Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.  Scholars there are studying how well markets can make accurate forecasts about the future.  Subjects for their study are participants in PredictIt's prediction market for politics.

PredictIt users make bets on political outcomes, so they are "investors."  Like the real stock market, they buy and sell shares in various industries.  But instead of hi-tech, railroads, and banking, the markets here all deal with the political system.  There are markets for elections (like who will win the New Hampshire GOP primary and who will be the Republican nominee for vice president), for the Supreme Court (how will it rule on the UT-Austin affirmative action case), and for politics (like whether the GOP keep control of the U.S. Senate).  There are many more markets, concerning domestic and international affairs, and all ask relevant, interesting questions.

PredictIt has gotten a lot of media attention.  Here are links to stories about PredictIt by NPR and Politico.

The catch is that the site charges a cash participation fee.  Participating investors are using REAL MONEY here.  Because it uses REAL MONEY there's NO WAY (Repeat: NO WAY!) that I would ever sanction my students participating in this.  But it's okay to look for free without committing any money.  In that regard this could be a fun site to see what the "market" is saying about the state of the presidential campaign by seeing how each candidate's "value" changes from day-to-day.  It could also be fun to compare what is happening on PredictIt with what the polls are saying.  For example, you could monitor PredictIt and correlate its trends with the Real Clear Politics poll averages.

1 comment:

Polly Molton said...

I guess I have to say that there is always a catch. Wherever you go, at least when it comes to the government, even to get a 1 hour payday loan online. To make sure you are protected, I recommend you to read all terms and conditions carefully. It’s just it is never crystal clear with our government. For what it’s worth, I agree with your every single word in this article. Politicians are always the first to play their games with us. Keep doing a great job. Thank you.