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Wisdom of Crowds?

Bad news for you McCain supporters (including those of you who took me rather forcefully to task for having the temerity, in earlier posts, to suggest that Sarah Palin is grossly and perhaps even grotesquely under-qualified to be President of the United States): The Iowa Electronic Market, which is a real-money futures market allowing individuals to trade in "future contracts" based upon the occurrence or non-occurrence of real-world events, has McCain futures for sale at a deep discount compared to Obama futures. It'll cost you $0.59 to get a contract paying you $1 in the event of an Obama victory, but only $0.41 for a $1` payoff if McCain wins. The IEM's track record at getting its predictions of future events correct (discussed in James Surowiecki's book on "The Wisdom of Crowds") is very good, incidentally.

Daniel Franke (mail) (www):
Is this still news to someone? I, and most people I know who care about politics, have been following Intrade for months, and Obama has been pretty steady around 60 cents on the dollar, until, incidentally, today, during which he's dropped a couple points.
9.5.2008 4:48pm
huh342:
Are you kidding David? Are you really that new to the prediction market scene? Those things fluctuate like real markets, and it's not unlikely that McCain will be a futures favorite before this is over (as he was several months ago). In fact, it might be time to buy McCain, given the bounce that is coming this weekend in the 3-day trackers.

Conincidentally, I made about $50 on Intrade this week because I snapped up contracts on "Palin will withdraw as VP nominee" when they IPO'ed at .03 and quickly bubbled to .13 (they are back down to .06 now).
9.5.2008 4:48pm
J. Aldridge:
Gore contracts went for 98 cents and Bush just over 3 cents on the the Iowa Electronic Market. Guess who won?

This is all good news for McCain, David.
9.5.2008 4:52pm
Guest Question:
Guess who won?

Gore did.
9.5.2008 4:55pm
TCO:
Contract has not moved more than a point or two before/after Palin announcement.

This is still showing 40% chance of McCain making it. (Not bad given the war and the econonomy).

This is old news.

I expect better from Volokh.com. I've been running all over the internet telling people how good you are...better than the typical nitwits at echo chamber righty sites or lefty sites. Just smarter and all.
9.5.2008 4:55pm
caveat bettor (mail) (www):
These values have not changed significantly for the last 30 days, trading between 37-44. Since the Palin pick was announced last week, McCain is trading 37-42.

At least on Intrade, which is, ahem, real money.
9.5.2008 4:55pm
John425:
"...suggest that Sarah Palin is grossly and perhaps even grotesquely under-qualified to be President of the United States."

Funny, I feel the same way about Obama.
9.5.2008 4:56pm
The Ace (mail):
Bad news for you McCain supporters

Too funny.

Kerry was the favorite on election day in 2004.
9.5.2008 4:56pm
Pyrrhus (mail) (www):
IEM may be good at predicting winners, but that market isn't making any strong predictions. Personally, I think 41% chance for McCain winning is pretty good all things considered.
9.5.2008 4:57pm
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
As above commenters have noted. Two weeks ago it was 61-39, so 59-41 looks like a slight movement toward McCain.

As to Palin's qualifications to be president, she's not running for president. If McCain lives a year she will be well-qualified. I don't know what the futures market is on that, but I'd call it a fairly good bet.

Qualifications in an election-system are not based on an abstract idea of what people might like, but on who the other candidates are.
9.5.2008 4:58pm
Hans Moleman:
Hey, you know what, a few weeks ago a "real money futures market" priced oil at $147 a barrel.

Today the price is about $106. Boy those futures markets are never wrong are they (or is just that they react to whatever information is currently availble but can fluctuate wildly over time.) I really expect more from contributors to the Conspiracy.
9.5.2008 4:59pm
Alex Bensky (mail):
I'm with John 425. I am a lifelong Democrat--not just nominally, as I was a party member, precinct delegate, on the county committee and state platform committe, etc.--and I'll be voting for McCain. I began voting in the 1972 election and he's the first Republican presidential candidate I've voted for.

I think Sarah Palin is a really nifty person and I sure wish I lived down the street from her. As a potential president, I can only hope she'll grow into the job. But she actually has some executive experience, as do none of the other three. And her actual experiential qualification isn't all that much different from Obama's, except, as I say, that she's actually run things.

So I'm not thrilled with the pick but it's not going to make a difference in how I vote.
9.5.2008 5:02pm
Perry:
Hans - What the point is here is that unless over the next 60 odd days, more publically available information surfaces that drives current voters to McCain that he will lose.

voila.
9.5.2008 5:06pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
I'll have to agree with a bunch of the commenters here. I follow Intrade.com all the time. First, the Obama price has been in the 59-64 range for a month. Second, the Obama price has gone down by a couple of cents in the last few days (though one shouldn't take these sorts of small movements too seriously). Third, if you've experienced a lot of contracts that run at about 80 or 90 cents, you'll see that prices that close to 50 indicate that the race is actually very close.
9.5.2008 5:09pm
EH (mail):
Alex Bensky: If you're going to try to be credible with your "lifelong Democrat" story you should probably buttress your reasons beyond "nifty" and "experience." It makes you sound like a shill.

Assistant Village Idiot:
As to Palin's qualifications to be president, she's not running for president. If McCain lives a year she will be well-qualified.


So, if you boiled it down, what are the qualifications to be President (in the abstract) to you? Is the bare minimum "whatever Palin has" plus one year as VP? Let's quantify this.

And yes she most certainly is going to be running for President. McCain's health requires it.
9.5.2008 5:12pm
Big E:
More interesting is the intrade will Palin be replaced contract.
9.5.2008 5:12pm
Perry:
Call me elitist (and maybe I am) but I think that being President of the Harvard Law Review is probably as important if maybe not marginally as important as being Mayor of a town of 8,000 people. Maybe not to those 8,000 people, granted.. but in the grand scheme of things.

I think that Obama has shown that he runs things well enough, raising over $200 million dollars and unseating the establishment candidiate of the democratic party. Please by all means feel free to disagree though..
9.5.2008 5:18pm
Lib:
Be careful with the use of phrases like "win" and "victory" when dealing with the IEM Pres08_WTA market. This market is based on the popular vote before post-processing by the electoral college and/or the SCOTUS. On the other hand, I believe Intrade's Dem/Rep/Other and Obama/McCain presidential markets are based on who actually is declared to be the POTUS.

If, for example, there's a popular/EC vote mismatch, this minor difference will be quite significant. Perhaps another interesting market would be "Is the POTUS victor also the popular vote winner?"
9.5.2008 5:19pm
Michael B (mail):
Markets trail, markets lead, markets bubble, markets burst, markets surge, markets collapse, markets overperform, markets underperform, markets react, markets fail to react, ...

Good news or bad, time will tell. What is certain is many who had little or no need to reassure themselves a month ago, even a week or two ago, are now much exercised in doing precisely that.
9.5.2008 5:20pm
Clint:
Something that seems to be missing in the discussion of the prediction markets:

- They *trail* the polls, reacting to newly released polling data, rather than leading them.

The most solid polls (especially for capturing trends) are the Gallup and Rasmussen 3-day tracking polls. In order to judge the full effects of the two GOP acceptance speeches we need to wait until the data that will be released on Sunday or Monday. Then the Intrade/Iowa/etc prediction markets will sift over the new data and arrive at a new prediction.

If the numbers haven't changed substantially by the middle of next week, then you're right. McCain-Palin will be in trouble.
9.5.2008 5:22pm
Fat Man (mail) (www):
If markets are so smart, why didn't bank stocks crash in 2007.
9.5.2008 5:22pm
RSF677:
"Call me elitist (and maybe I am) but I think that being President of the Harvard Law Review is probably as important if maybe not marginally as important as being Mayor of a town of 8,000 people. Maybe not to those 8,000 people, granted.. but in the grand scheme of things."

I know this is insulting to just about everyone who blogs here, but I've always experienced the general rule to be that if someone is on Law Review you should run as quickly and as soon as possible. I will support people from Law Review for president over people from Law Revue, but that's about it.
9.5.2008 5:31pm
The Ace (mail):
but I think that being President of the Harvard Law Review is probably as important if maybe not marginally as important as being Mayor

The Internets are full of people who say silly things endlessly.

I'm willing to bet you couldn't even tell us what the President of Harvard Law Review does.
9.5.2008 5:38pm
Spitzer:
First, as for the electronic markets, the biggest problem with them is that they are sufficiently small that they can be gamed (there were quite a few accusations of that in 2004, as I recall). A different market-oriented perspective may be related to the stock market - over at the Capitalist Nexus, they've created the "Palin-Barracuda Index" to measure the market's outlook on this market (on the whole election, despite the name of the index). Essentially, the argument is that growth stocks will react more aggressively than value stocks to threatened increases in capital gains; given that Obama has threatened to raise capital gains taxes while McCain talks of keeping them level, and there is no reason to think their positions are fake, then the relative pricing difference between value and growth stocks should tell the story of the market's prediction of election winner. Anyway, they started it a few days ago, setting the index at 100, and in the first update, it was up to 100.3 (meaning growth stocks grew faster than value stocks, and thus the market predicts a McCain victory). Not sure if I agree with all of the premises, but it's an interesting perspective nonetheless: http://capitalistnexus.com/2008/09/04/the-palin-index/

Second, the latest Gallup and Rasmussen tracking polls indicate a big Palin bump in the polls. Gallup has been running at a steady Obama +6 to +8 for three days, and Rasmussen was a steady +4 to +5 for Obama for the same period. Both polls are 3 day moving averages. Thus, today's polls are 1/3 in the 24 hours after Palin's speech, and 2/3 pre-speech. The fact that they moved as much as they did indicates that Palin's speech (or, more generally, the entire day) had a big effect on the polling numbers. Gallup is now Obama +4 (moving -3 relative to Obama since yesterday) and Rasmussen is now Obama +2 (moving -2/3 relative to Obama since yesterday). Simple math suggests that the latest day thus had a big effect: Gallup +2 McCain on Thursday (7+7+(-2)=12; 12/3 = +4 Obama); Rasmussen, +3 McCain (4+5+(-3)=6; 6/3 = +2 Obama). In short, Thursday's tracking polls suggests an 8-9 point swing toward McCain, and you can bet that a lot of it had to do with 40 million people watching Palin's well-received speech. We'll see by Sunday if McCain's own speech has as much positive effect.
9.5.2008 5:39pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
RSF677: But I was on both Law Review and Law Revue (though at Harvard it went by a different name). Do you support me or not?
9.5.2008 5:39pm
DNL (mail):
Honestly Professor Post, this is embarrassingly wrong.

Go to Intrade's market here and set the time to Custom. Request data for the last 14 days. He's ahead of where he was before the Democratic Convention (and before Palin's selection) by five points.
9.5.2008 5:41pm
RSF677:
I'm a little suspicious of making you president. What are your feelings about Bar Review, Sasha?
9.5.2008 5:47pm
Flash Gordon (mail):
Markets sometimes undervalue certain assets. The key to making money in any market is to find assets that are currently being undervalued, buy them and wait for the market to realize its mistake, which it will. The important fact right now is not the current quotes for McCain and Obama, but whether the market is correctly valuing (at this point in time) the future value of McCain. If so, McCain buyers will lost their investment. But if the market is currently undervaluing his future price, McCain buyers will make out very well.

The market may be right about the outcome of the election if it were held today. But today's price is not much of a prediction of what will happen two months from now. The quotes in the last few days before the election will be the ones to watch for that.
9.5.2008 5:47pm
Roger Zimmerman (mail):
Right to those that point out ~60/40 on these types of markets is a very strong indication of the closeness of the race. Look at it this way: If the polls were very clearly showing candidate A with 55% support and candidate B with 45% support ("support", however defined), and the markets trusted these polls, it would be very likely that the contract on candidate A would be extremely close to dollar - it looks like a very good bet that candidate A will win. It doesn't take much math to show that these market prices very much amplify differences in poll results.

I bet we could go back and do a correlation and see that a 60 cent contract price corresponds generally to a very slight (and/or statistically unreliable) lead in contemporaneous polling numbers.
9.5.2008 5:49pm
Scott Scheule (mail) (www):
Sasha can't run. He's got a new infant at home.
9.5.2008 5:49pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
RSF677: I never participated in Bar Review. Well, maybe I went one time. In any event, I'm constitutionally prohibited from being President, so you don't need to worry!
9.5.2008 5:49pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Perry.
After the law review came the Chicago Annenberg Challenge thing.
Got some input for us?
9.5.2008 5:51pm
RSF677:
Sasha can run. Apparently woman are supposed to care for small children.. I don't think men have to worry about that.
9.5.2008 5:52pm
Deoxy (mail):
1) small enough to be gamed
2) history of being wrong (both Kerry and Gore)
3) it has to do with politics, the only area of human experience I know of that competes with sex for "brings out the stupid in people".

Color me unimpressed.
9.5.2008 5:53pm
RSF677:
Sasha, it doesn't sound like you do very well facing off against Vladimir Putin in a vodka drinking contest, so it's probably better that you are constitutionally barred.
9.5.2008 5:54pm
RSF677:
Who would have standing to challenge Sasha if he did run?
9.5.2008 5:56pm
Deoxy (mail):
Roger Zimmerman's post is really spot-on.

And I feel drawn to the comment by RFS677 - to echo The Ace a bit, what DOES the "president of Harvard Law Review" actually do? It sure sounds impressive... and if I had to guess, that's really its only purpose (but I don't know).
9.5.2008 5:58pm
Swamp Fox:
David,

Thanks you so much for pointing out what the future values for McCain are going for. This information was so very useful because I now no longer think you are a something of a putz. I now know you are a complete and utter putz.

May I suggest that you take a step back, ask you yourself if relying on the "Iowa Electronic Market" is the best argument you can offer for your hypocritical positions, and if it is, strongly consider giving up your posting rights on the Conspiracy.
9.5.2008 6:23pm
marcystrauss (mail):
The President of Harvard Law Review is the most prestigious position in law school-the head of the cream of the crop. I am not being facetious---it is an incredibly demanding position; its like running a small company and handling an incredible array of talented individuals with strong feelings on a variety of subjects. It requires a lot of diplomacy. So while I'm not putting it at the top of his credentials for president, I think those of you who are knocking it are incredibly ill informed. Sure beats Miss Congeniality.
9.5.2008 6:26pm
Federal Dog:
"Call me elitist (and maybe I am) but I think that being President of the Harvard Law Review is probably as important if maybe not marginally as important as being Mayor of a town of 8,000 people. Maybe not to those 8,000 people, granted.. but in the grand scheme of things."

Actually, it's just plain weird.
9.5.2008 6:52pm
CDR D (mail):
Hey Mister Post...

Why don't you change your first name to "Washington"?

It would fit, and you could claim a famous John Philip Sousa composition named in your honor... :)
9.5.2008 6:52pm
TomH (mail):
Yes, except you have to attend Harvard to do it. Alas, the McCain/Palin ticket, the only one entirely free of the taint of ivy. Right?
9.5.2008 6:54pm
rarango (mail):
Sometimes, I believe, that the more education people have the more it separates them from that old demographic of blue collar--First, education correlates only loosely with intelligence; Second, somehow I don't think that President of Harvard Law review is going really win over middle class swing voters in the battleground states; finally it bespeaks a certain arrogance that turns off a lot of "average voters." To buttress my point I give you the case of Adlai Stevenson versus Dwight Eisenhower.

Now of this is meant to denigrate academics because I are one. Recall also that Woodrow Wilson had a PhD and was President of Princeton--how did that work out?

Voters vote based on perceptions,, atmospherics, and empathy with the candidates--Frankly its hard for many people to empathize with people with advanced degrees--Hell, I cant even get a date!
9.5.2008 7:25pm
Helene Edwards (mail):
Perry:

Call me elitist, but what does "... is probably as important if maybe not marginally as important as ..." mean?
9.5.2008 7:25pm
Anon1111:
Perry said:

Call me elitist (and maybe I am) but I think that being President of the Harvard Law Review is probably as important if maybe not marginally as important as being Mayor of a town of 8,000 people. Maybe not to those 8,000 people, granted.. but in the grand scheme of things.



Hmmm. I'd rather vote for someone who actually does something useful for society, like a janitor or car repair man, than someone who was the President of Harvard Law Review.
9.5.2008 7:43pm
D.R.M.:
So, a small spread in the futures contracts as to who is going to win the election somehow proves that Sarah Palin is underqualified to be President of the United States?

There are so many improbable assumptions necessary to get from the one end to the other of that to constitute diagnostic proof that you're not thinking rationally, Mr. Post.
9.5.2008 8:00pm
TCO:
Harvard Law Review? Smells like Dink Stover and his buddies sweating making captain of the team or editor of the Lit. What a crock. Oh...and if you haven't read Stover at Yale, chop chop. Right after that go read C.S. Lewis's essay on "rings". That should help all you social climbers. Maybe think about what it's like living in the Hanoi Hilton, too.
9.5.2008 8:00pm
Martha:
Palin's attending 6 colleges in 5 years to earn a B.A. isn't particularly impressive.
9.5.2008 8:02pm
fishbane (mail):
If markets are so smart, why didn't bank stocks crash in 2007.

Wait, is this still a free-market promoting, squishy libertarian blog?
9.5.2008 8:05pm
TCO:
No. It's not academically impressive. It's certainly not East Coaster (or even worse New Yorker) strive for private school to prep school to Ivy to McKinsey type of behaviour either. But that's kinda good that it's not either.

My old man was smarter than anyone I've ever met (literally) and he didn't get his BS until age 42 and he attended 10 schools to do it. Seems WW2 got in the way, then Korea. Too much partying in between. Trying to start a manufacturing business and failing. You know...life.

Anyhow, Palin's not my old man. But she's just fine. Saw her answering the points of questions on that AK debate video better than Knowles did (not as sharp as the statistician fellow though). I mean Carter was brighter than Reagan. But Reagan had the smarter policies. So...that can work.
9.5.2008 8:13pm
Federal Dog:
"Palin's attending 6 colleges in 5 years to earn a B.A. isn't particularly impressive."

What do you know about what else she was doing while trying to put herself through school? Did she have fulltime work? Other responsibilities that very many people have that make impossible the luxury of going straight through one school?

You must have personal knowledge of her life to have made such a condescending remark.
9.5.2008 8:35pm
wayne (mail):
1. Harvard Law School is the best law school in the country or nearly so. It is very difficult to get into. The fact that Obama did indicates he is extremely gifted. Those people with a legal background should appreciate this fact.

2. Law Review is extremely competetive at any law school.

3. To my knowledge, President of the Harvard Law Review is reserved for the best student. I am assuming it is equivalent to Chief Editor, The President of the Harvard Law Review is virtually guaranteed a very high-paying job, and/or probably even a US Supreme Court clerkship. In other words, even among an extremely bright and driven group of students, Obama stood out.

Very smart and hard working would seem to be good attributes for a President. I want the President to be the smartest, or at least one of the smartest people in the room. It's not a guarantee of a successful tenure, but it doesn't hurt. And the opposite doesn't work too well, as the current occupant has demonstrated. It is perfectly reasonable to view Editor of the Harvard Law Review as more significant than small town mayor.
9.5.2008 8:37pm
Brett Bellmore:
So, any guess what how much of the money in the prediction markets is there to profit financially, and how much is there to 'profit' politically by using the market to influence the election?
9.5.2008 8:41pm
andrejsv:
What does a futures prediction between an Omaba vs McCain victory have anything to do with Palins qualifications? (either as vicepresident or even President as you say).

Please remember that buying futures is buying 'insurance' or hedging your position. All you are saying is that people negatively affected by an Obama victory are trying to minimize their risk, by buying Obama futures.

To my is completely amazing how, McCain being an old, unispiring, terrible speaker with acknowledged lack of experience in the economic area, he is still in the running. That is just incredible! and deserving admiration. The race was tied before the Democratic convention and tied again after the Republican one... so I dont think that other than generating excitement Palin's nomination affected it one way or the other.
9.5.2008 8:50pm
Brett Bellmore:

Very smart and hard working would seem to be good attributes for a President. I want the President to be the smartest, or at least one of the smartest people in the room. It's not a guarantee of a successful tenure, but it doesn't hurt.


The problem with this attitude is that it fails to take into account the fundamental disagreements about what the President is supposed to be trying to do. If a very smart and hard working President also happens to want to do things you really, really do NOT want done, the fact that he's smart and hard working only makes him more likely to achieve them, and so becomes a bad point, not a good point.

Competence is only an uncontested asset where goals are uncontested.
9.5.2008 9:08pm
wayne (mail):
Of course, as we have seen in the last eight years, incompetence is never a good thing in a President.
9.5.2008 9:17pm
TCO:
Andresev: You misunderstand how the market works. It's irrellevant that their are people buying insurance. The price will still be set by the likelihood. If not, speculators would enter and bid the contracts until they represented likelihood.
9.5.2008 9:21pm
Smokey:
TomH:
Yes, except you have to attend Harvard to do it. Alas, the McCain/Palin ticket, the only one entirely free of the taint of ivy. Right?
You say that like it's a bad thing!

David Post:
Bad news for you McCain supporters...
You're so thrilled that Odumbo is slightly ahead. In your heavily leftoid view, should we just appoint 0 the messiah right now and be done with it? Or do we need to have that pesky election first?

Martha:
Palin's attending 6 colleges in 5 years to earn a B.A. isn't particularly impressive.
That's a lot more college experience than 0 has... right? I mean, where's the diversity in attending only one college?

wayne:
1. Harvard Law School is the best law school in the country or nearly so. It is very difficult to get into...
Yes, it's very difficult... if you're one of the many Asians and others with a 4.25 GPA and top SAT scores, who were bypassed by Mr. Affirmative Action. Of course, I could be wrong about this. If 0 simply releases his high school transcripts and SAT scores, then we'll know. Right? After all, he's brilliant. Oprah said so herself. Let's see those 'brilliant' scores.

This thread is funner than I expected! Funnier, too.
9.5.2008 9:33pm
LM (mail):




A politician is born! (No, not Sasha. RSF677.)

I will support people from Law Review for president over people from Law Revue, but that's about it.

RSF677: But I was on both Law Review and Law Revue (though at Harvard it went by a different name). Do you support me or not?

You'd think this would make Sasha possibly the only person RSF677 would support less than Barack Obama. But RSF677 knows a winner when he sees one, so he shrewdly blurs the principle and changes the subject:

I'm a little suspicious of making you president. What are your feelings about Bar Review, Sasha?

RSF677: I never participated in Bar Review. Well, maybe I went one time. In any event, I'm constitutionally prohibited from being President, so you don't need to worry!

That out to settle it, but RSF677 is back peddling too furiously to notice the game changer:

Sasha can run. Apparently woman are supposed to care for small children.. I don't think men have to worry about that.

... but like a true thoroughbred, undeterred he pivots one more time, recites a new (conveniently friendly) test, and pretends this was an exercise in principles all along:

Sasha, it doesn't sound like you do very well facing off against Vladimir Putin in a vodka drinking contest, so it's probably better that you are constitutionally barred.

If I ever see RSF677 listed on Intrade I'll be a "Buy." If elective office doesn't appeal to him, I'd encourage him to set his sights on "White House Press Secretary."
9.5.2008 9:41pm
LM (mail):
By the way, before anyone takes that seriously, please don't.
9.5.2008 9:43pm
tsotha:
Brett Bellmore, that is a succinct summation of my problem with the... uh, IQ measuring contest we go through every four years. Obama wants to do a whole bunch of things that I believe well affect me and the country negatively. It doesn't matter if he's a genius - I don't want him to be president.

I would also like to point out "the best student" is pretty subjective, as grading is pretty subjective. I've no doubt Obama is pretty intelligent, but you don't get to be the governor of a state without being pretty intelligent as well.
9.5.2008 9:43pm
Greg Q (mail) (www):
Yep. I just bought some "McCain will be President" futures the other day.

Go take a look, if you can, at how the numbers moved over the course of the 2004 election (start w/ shortly after the Dem Convention).

"The Wisdom of the Crowds" is useful (look at how Palin did in those right-wing blogger polls of who should be McCain's VP). But when you have more money than wisdom, you end up with high volatility, and not much "wisdom".

If it's still 60 - 40 a week out, then you'll have a useful case to make. Two months out? No.
9.5.2008 10:59pm
Bill Kilgore:
Call me elitist (and maybe I am) but I think that being President of the Harvard Law Review is probably as important if maybe not marginally as important as being Mayor of a town of 8,000 people. Maybe not to those 8,000 people, granted.. but in the grand scheme of things.

Had the hosts of this site not asked us to refrain from such, I would call you something very different.

As someone who was fortunate to finish law school with a spiffy 5-syllable Latin phrase attached to my degree, I have to say that unless you're speaking to a prospective mother-in-law, any query as to your accomplishments which results in a citation to your law school performance is a testament to the fact that you haven't done much of anything.
9.6.2008 12:04am
subpatre (mail):
Martha bleats, "Palin's attending 6 colleges in 5 years to earn a B.A. isn't particularly impressive."

A) The headline says 5 colleges in 6 years. Odd that you'd screw up that simple fact.
B) Actually reading the article shows there are 4 schools listed, not five.
C) The article also shows attendence was for 5 years, not six as stated.

#1 Hawaii Pacific University - fall 82
#2 North Idaho College - spring 83 &fall 83
#3 University of Idaho - fall 84 , spring 85
#4 Matanuska-Susitna College - fall 85
#3 University of Idaho - spring &fall 86, spring 87

4 schools, 5 years. What is telling is not what Sara Palin did 20+ years ago, but what people are doing with the information now.

In a warped version of Grapevine, Martha adds one school to a MSM 'report' so that she can snear 'not impressive', when the article in turn double-counts a school and inflates one year to what is known.
9.6.2008 12:11am
Brian Mac:
This is one of those posts that are silly enough to make you pause before responding.

But what I'll say is that if you're going to make a smart ass post, you better be pretty sure of your data. McCain has jumped several points on Intrade since announcing Palin as his running mate.
9.6.2008 12:16am
Nifonged:
Actually, the best part of Martha's link (an AP article) is the following:

"She attended Idaho, whose mascot is the Vandals,"

1) How on earth does a mascot matter in this instance? I guess Palin should be disqualified because she was a "vandal"?

2) Why aren't other mascots from the other schools mentioned?

3) How ignorant or naive does anyone have to be to not see how the mainstream press is so far in the tank for Obama that its BEYOND parody?

4) Is David Post the Conspiracy's version of ATL's Hope Winters?
9.6.2008 12:17am
BlueBoots (mail):
Wayne said "To my knowledge, President of the Harvard Law Review is reserved for the best student. ... In other words, even among an extremely bright and driven group of students, Obama stood out."

Unfortunately, that's not how it works. The President of Harvard Law Review is voted into the position by the other editors. So how exactly does winning a vote by an electorate of 80 to run a student run academic journal for nine months as a part time job qualify you to be president?
9.6.2008 1:08am
Silly:

Bad news for you McCain supporters


Of course, if it *WAS* really bad news, you wouldn't keep talking about it. You'd sit there smiling silently. What's the phrase.. "Methinks the lady doth protesteth too much"
9.6.2008 1:21am
anon1000:
It's not that being President of Harvard Law Review qualifies you to be President of the United States, but it does say that you are a very intelligent and hard-working person.

I really don't understand the idea that voters would rather vote for someone who uses his/her hands than someone w/an Ivy League education because they can't relate to the Ivy Leaguer. Is being President something ordinary folks like us can relate to? I don't think so. The President will be using his/her brain, not his/her hands. I'd rather not be able to relate to the President (which I'm not going to anyways) and have him/her do a good job, than be able to relate to him/her and have him do a horrible job (as was the case in George Bush).
9.6.2008 1:21am
Elliot123 (mail):
It makes little sense to say a market is a good predictor without identifying the dates of the predictions. For example, how well did the September 5 quotes predict past elections? How well did the October 30 quotes predict the market?
9.6.2008 1:35am
Fat Man (mail) (www):
If markets are so smart, why didn't bank stocks crash in 2007.

Wait, is this still a free-market promoting, squishy libertarian blog?


I yield to no one in my affection for the use of markets, but if you are going to be a user of market information you need to understand what it means. Market prices impound the information that is available to market participants, but they are not a crystal ball. They have no more foresight than the market participants have. The price of Fannie Mae stock a year ago was $60/share Monday, it will be wallpaper.

Perhaps market participants should have been more prescient. Certainly the shorts have made a lot of money. But the market as a forecaster. No better than average.

Harvard Law School is the best law school in the country or nearly so. It is very difficult to get into. The fact that Obama did indicates he is extremely gifted.


Uhhh. I guess you haven't meet many law school grads. Further, I don't mean to be churlish, but HLS like many other such institutions selects its applicants on a basis that is, shall we say, not objective. Here is what they say:

Each application is considered in its entirety, ... Through individual consideration, the admissions committee seeks not only to identify individual characteristics that are important to academic success in law school, but also other qualities that promote vitality, diversity, and excellence in the student body. The committee uses no computational methods for making decisions and no "cut-offs" below which a candidate will not be considered. Each year we admit applicants who believed they didn't have a chance.


Neither you nor I know why Mr. Obama was admitted to HLS. HLS is not talking, and he has not released his undergraduate transcripts or test scores.
9.6.2008 2:17am
J Richardson:
Actually, the best part of Martha's link (an AP article) is the following:

"She attended Idaho, whose mascot is the Vandals,"

1) How on earth does a mascot matter in this instance? I guess Palin should be disqualified because she was a "vandal"?

2) Why aren't other mascots from the other schools mentioned?



My high school's mascot was the Villain. I wonder what that makes me?
9.6.2008 5:37am
Uni Petrowska (mail):
A 41%/59% split is not a statement of likely voter percentages. It is a prediction of the odds of the outcome of one candidate receiving the number of votes in the electoral college required to win.

If one of the candidates breaks clearly away from another, you will see a much wider split than this. The split today suggests a very close race.
9.6.2008 10:43am
Barbara Skolaut (mail):
Guest Question: "Guess who won? Gore did."

Ummm, no. Remember that the Miami Herald and a couple of other newspapers (WaPo? NYTimes?) paid to continue the recount after the US Supreme Court told the FL Supreme Court to follow FL's own laws? And they admitted (to their credit) that Bush won?

But thanks for playing....
9.6.2008 12:22pm
Obvious (mail):
Ace: "I'm willing to bet you couldn't even tell us what the President of Harvard Law Review does."

I think it's much like being a community organizer, but with actual responsibilities...
9.6.2008 12:54pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):

Ummm, no. Remember that the Miami Herald and a couple of other newspapers (WaPo? NYTimes?) paid to continue the recount after the US Supreme Court told the FL Supreme Court to follow FL's own laws? And they admitted (to their credit) that Bush won?



Ah, but there were a couple of studies that said the opposite (or can be selectively read to do so).

And as we all know, as long as one MSM outlet has a standing claim that Gore won, then he did.
9.6.2008 1:01pm
David Warner:
"Is being President something ordinary folks like us can relate to?"

What part of government of the people, by the people, and for the people do you not understand. Is Lincoln so little noted nor long remembered?

The whole heartbeat argument seems irrationally risk-averse. Surely there's a greater than 12%* chance, given what Palin has actually accomplished, and not**, as Governor of Alaska that she would make an outstanding President. Conversely, the chance of Obama being a disastrous one is greater (though I would argue, not much) than 12%. Do the expected value analysis - it's breakeven if not better, unless your concerns are ideological, in which case the argument is a red herring.

* - the actuarial chance of McCain dying within four years.
** - no socially conservative legislation
9.6.2008 1:29pm
jerryofva (mail):
I am greatly amused by those who think being Editor of the Harvard Law Review is a superior qualification to being mayor of a town of 9000. Elitist is not the term I would use to describe a person who believes that. I would use adjectives like moron, idiot or fool. Only an immature, inexperienced graduate/law student unfamiliar with the workings of the real world would make that claim.

William F Buckley once said that he would trust the first 2000 names in the Boston phonebook to run the country more then the 2000 members of the Harvard faculty. Buckley was a wise and brilliant man.
9.6.2008 5:52pm
Federal Dog:
"I am greatly amused by those who think being Editor of the Harvard Law Review is a superior qualification to being mayor of a town of 9000. Elitist is not the term I would use to describe a person who believes that. I would use adjectives like moron, idiot or fool."

I can't wait to hear what other student activities prepared him for the Oval Office. Did he do Model UN too?
9.6.2008 6:07pm
gov98 (mail):
Uh oh!

On 9/8/08 at 6:15 PDT, the markets were trading at 49.5 for McCain and 50.5 for Obama.
9.8.2008 10:16am
Sam Draper (mail):
Those numbers are just a distraction.
9.8.2008 12:17pm