Betting on Obama

As everyone knows, Barack Obama and John McCain are winding up for a historic campaign to become the next president of the United States.  The election is still months away, but that’s not keeping speculators from betting on the results.  The map above shows how interested parties with real money at stake are predicting the November election. 

Intrade is a “prediction market” that essentially lets you bet on anything.  You can wager on whether the positive results Dr. Yoshiaki Arata’s cold fusion experiment will be replicated successfully; you can put money down that the Incredible Hulk will gross less than $50 million on its opening weekend; and you bet that the Supreme Court will hold the District of Columbia’s anti-handgun law unconstitutional.  All these trades are made with real money, and members who predict correctly receive the money of members who don’t.  Intrade, then, is an excellent way to tap into the “wisdom of crowds.”

Intrade’s most recent success has been bets on the results of the upcoming November presidential election.  These predicted results are illustrated via a simple map, above–with red for Republican states, blue for Democratic states, and gray for states that are too close to call.  Click here or on the picture above to see a larger version of the map.

The current Intrade favorite is Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic Party nominee.  Betters have him winning Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and making a strong showing in Virginia and Nevada.  McCain does well in this election too, with clear wins in Florida and Missouri, but it wouldn’t be enough to get him to the White House. 

The site updates the map “at least weekly” and allows you to scroll through previous versions.  So far, they closely resemble the map above.  Nevertheless, McCain’s fortunes can change quickly.  Although Obama is trading at over $61 per share, McCain still brings in $34 per share that he will be the eventual election winner. 


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Cartographia is a blog about how we use maps to represent the world around us, and how people interpret maps today and throughout history. Please feel free to send any questions, comments, or recommendations directly to me at

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