The Lull of Prediction Markets

January 11th, 2013

An interesting question an answer from Nate Silver’s Reddit Ask-Me-Anything, about whether prediction markets may lull people into not voting.

Q. Are you concerned that during future elections, the accuracy of your predictions will lull readers into a mindset of “it has been foretold, therefore I needn’t bother to vote”?
— whydidijoinreddit

A. It worries me a bit. There is probably a danger zone in which a candidate’s supporters take for granted that he’ll win the election and so don’t turn out to vote, but the election is nevertheless close enough for him to lose. That may have happened in the Democratic primary in New Hampshire in 2008, for example. There were a lot of reasons why Hillary beat her polls, but one contributing factor may have been that a lot of independent voters who would otherwise have voted for Barack chose to vote in the GOP primary instead since it seemed more competitive.

H/T Althouse