One of the more annoying things political pundits do is to consistently make the case that their candidate or cause is a likely winner, or if too obvious a loser, at least will beat expectations. Surely there is demand for pundits as critical about their favored outcome’s chances as they are about their ufavored outcomes? Perhaps if I watched lots of television I would know of such a chimera.
Fortunately there are again (see Historical Presidential Betting Markets) markets to give anyone who wants one a reality check. However, it is rare (in the U.S.) for a “third party” candidate to be significant enough for an election market to cast any light on their chances. Often “field” will be available (for example, Intrade currently lists the following spreads for 2008 Presidential Election Winner (Political Party): Democrat 49.1/49.2, Republican 47.6/48.4, Field 2.9/3.2) but chance accorded by traders to “the field” has to be based on the expectation that a viable independent will come out of the woodwork (e.g., Ross Perot in 1992) rather than the expectation that a Green, Libertarian, or other minor party candidate has a non-negligible chance of victory. This is too bad in a way, as my casual observation says that minor party backers are more delusional than most when it comes to their candidate’s chances.
It appears that in the Texas 22nd congressional district there is a possibility that “the field” may map strongly to a minor party candidate’s chances — Libertarian Party nominee Bob Smither. Democrat Nick Lampson is the only major party candidate on the ballot. Republican Shelley Sekula-Gibbs is running a write-in campaign.
A Smither press release proclaims that “The Experts Agree” that Smither has the best chance of defeating Lampson, and quotes four sources that say something along those lines. These “experts” aren’t putting anything on the line though — the Intrade CD22 market has the following current bid/ask/last values: Democrat 70.0/90.0/76.0, Republican 12.0/19.9/12.0, Field 2.0/9.9 /0.1.
Traders seem to think a Smither victory is about as likely as Lampson and Sekula-Gibbs photographed together in bed, with a dog. Maybe that isn’t too unlikely. Put your money where your delusions are!
Regarding expert political judgement, I’m planning to read that book soon.