Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wisdom of the Crowds

Sadly, the UBC Election Stock market won't be running this election (though, given the amount of money I lost on it last time, I guess that's actually a good thing). If you'll recall, you could buy Liberal popular vote shares if you thought they were due for a bounce in the polls. Or you could buy Conservative majority shares if you thought we were heading in that direction. Like a real stock market, it moved up and down based on demand - and since real money was on the line, it gave us a good idea of where traders expected the public to be on Election Day...unlike polls and seat projections which only tell you where the public is now.

It's a neat concept and, like most event stock markets, it worked well. It's amazing how accurate the wisdom of the crowds can be sometimes.

With this in mind, I'll be tallying up the crowd consensus from my Election Pool in the coming days.

With 50 entries, it certainly isn't a huge sample. And, obviously enough, the readers of this blog are not representative of the Canadian population. But I suspect those who took the time to answer 20 questions on polling companies, ads, and individual ridings have a good sense of what's going on politically. While some will no doubt claim this sample skews Liberal, I have a hard time buying that after looking at the entries - after all, only 4 of you are predicting a Liberal victory.

So, what do the masses expect to change this election? Not a heck of a lot. Here are the average seat projections:

CPC 140 seats
Lib 85 seats
Bloc 51 seats
NDP 32 seats

So the consensus seems to be the Tories and NDP will drop a few seats, with the Liberals making modest gains. Exciting stuff, eh? There is a bit of a range though - 29% of you expect a Tory majority, and 8% are predicting a Liberal victory.

As for Miss May, the center of attention today, just one-in-five (21%) expect her to defeat Gary Lunn in Saanich-Gulf Islands. Predictions on the number of independent candidates elected ranged from 1 to 3 (Arthur, Guergis, and Ford seem to be the likeliest), with the mean at 0.9.

Regionally, the masses are predicting 1.7 seats of Harper in Newfoundland and are split on whether or not over half the Liberal seats won will come from Ontario (63% think they will).


  • Too bad about that. I think there is money to be made this week betting on a Liberal win. (Right up until about this time next week, when the Lib uptick will be more then just statistical noise).

    Even more money could be made, I think, betting on a tie. Dan - Come back to this post on election night, I'm calling it today that Libs & Cons will win the same number of seats.

    Then things will get interesting.

    By Blogger Dan F, at 4:10 p.m.  

  • Given that hoser2hoosier - pretty much the most insightful commenter here - was one of those few predicting a Liberal victory, I've certainly given the idea a closer look.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 5:01 p.m.  

  • RV - Yeah, and H2H certainly isn't a Liberal partisan.

    If UBC stock market was running, I'd buy Liberal victory stocks now at 5 to 10 cents, then unload them for at least twice that once we get one or two good polls in.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 5:06 p.m.  

  • I would kill my foster cat to see a tie on election night!!!

    H2H's prediction really caught my attention as well...

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 5:37 p.m.  

  • I'm not sure what party H2H supports, maybe he'll show up here and tell us?

    Either way, there's a difference between having an allegiance but remaining objective (e.g. Calgary Grit) and being a partisan and defending your party no matter what. At the very least, he's the former, not the latter.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 7:12 p.m.  

  • For the record, I'm a Tory (although I think Jean Chretien was a great PM, and Michael Ignatieff isn't all that bad a guy). I've made some lousy predictions in my day (like that John Edwards would become president), but I think people are low-balling the prospect of a Liberal victory (incidentally, Iggy just passed Layton on the latest leadership polls).

    Also, strategically most of you made predictions consistent with a Conservative minority, so even if I successfully called a Tory minority it'd be a crapshoot as to which one of us won the contest.

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 11:29 p.m.  

  • Also, if you are looking to lose money in election futures markets, Intrade has some Canadian election futures up there. The going rate on majority government seems ridiculously high (50%) to me.

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 4:17 p.m.  

  • @Dan: go ahead and put your money out there if you think the Liberals are going to win.

    What the stories have buried is that even with their "uptick" in the polls, they still (a) trail badly in the polls, and (b) are not expected (by independent experts who have looked at the numbers) to win significantly more seats as a result of the change in the polling numbers.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:11 a.m.  

  • This reminds me of baseball prognosticators who always assume the results of THIS upcoming season will be the same as last season.

    By Blogger Jean Proulx, at 12:32 p.m.  

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