I was going to post this at Midas Oracle, but there seems to be a software problem there [fixed, edited version posted there], so I’ll post here, with added vitriol and pejoratives I would not have used there.
Yesterday at about 5:30PM EDT the Libertarian Party (U.S.) nominated ex-Congressperson Bob Barr for temporary dictator. Barr’s nomination does not appear to have been certain — it took five rounds of voting, including two rounds where he tied for first and one in which in placed second.
So what do the relevant prediction markets make of this new information? Is Barr a contender, a potential spoiler, or irrelevant?
At Intrade, PRES.FIELD2008 has attracted no trades since May 22, three days before Barr’s nomination. We didn’t need a market to tell us a Libertarian Party nominee would not be a contender, nor help the chances of another non-Democrat and non-Republican.
The idea that Barr could be a spoiler is not completely ridiculous on its face (Barr and Wayne Allen Root, his running mate, are both recent ex-Republicans). However, PRES.DEM2008 has attracted no trades since May 24, the day before Barr’s nomination, while PRES.REP2008 did not trade between 18 hours before the nomination and over 3 hours after.
I think we can conclude that traders believe Barr’s nomination will have no impact on the outcome of the U.S. temporary dictator election. And, sadly, that volume on Intrade is pathetic.
It should be no surprise that traders dismiss the impact of the Libertarian Party’s choice. The last time they nominated a marginally credible candidate — in 1988, another (then) ex-Republican ex-Congressperson, Ron Paul — they received 0.5% of the total vote.
Regarding the Libertarian Party generally, I can’t say it much better than Tim Lee:
Ultimately, I wish the LP would just go away. The structure of American elections dooms third parties to perpetual failure and obscurity, and that, in turn, creates a vicious cycle where the most talented activists and potential candidates go elsewhere, causing the party to be even more out of touch and politically tone-deaf in the next election. But given that the party is going to nominate somebody, Barr was probably the best choice. He’s a reasonably credible candidate, he’s got decent media skills, and so far, at least, I haven’t seen him take any positions that I strongly disagree with (since his road-to-damascus conversion in 2006, anyway). But I don’t plan to support his candidacy because while he may be the least-bad option on this November’s ballot, he certainly isn’t the kind of person I want associated with libertarianism. And every vote he gets will mean more visibility for the embarrassing candidate the party is likely to nominate in 2012.