Luck of the Irish predicts US election results

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Luck of the Irish predicts US election results

American boffins find correlation between Tradesports.com and voting patterns.

On the eve of the US mid-term elections, computer scientists at the University of Chicago and Yahoo Research have pointed to the "uncanny track record" of an Irish securities trading market in predicting the outcome of US elections.

The computer scientists have built websites that display continuously updated maps predicting the outcome of the 2006 Gubernatorial and Senate races.

Predictions are linked to the prices of securities at Tradesports.com, an Irish trading site that runs a market for each state.

The Gubernatorial and Senate maps are a joint project between University of Chicago professor Lance Fortnow, and David Pennock and Yiling Chen of Yahoo Research. 

Solid red states are heavily favoured to go Republican, according to Tradesports data, while solid blue states are likely to go Democratic. States in lighter shades indicate more tightly contested races.

"The prices of the securities have shown to be a surprisingly accurate prediction of future events," said Fortnow.

"In 2004, these markets correctly predicted all but one of the Senate races, and every state correctly in the electoral college.

"We put the map together to highlight the importance of these markets and let people get a quick view of what the markets say."

Information markets such as Tradesports, also called 'prediction' markets, react extremely quickly to news.

The scientists noted that this enables site visitors to obtain an immediate view of how a breaking event might affect an election.

According to the researchers, information markets have proved so efficient in combining the collective wisdom of their participants that some companies operate them internally to help make decisions, including HP, Google and Microsoft.

In 2003, a terrorism futures market at the Pentagon created a furore that led to the resignation of retired admiral John Poindexter, who headed the project.

Yahoo Research, the research and development division of Yahoo, runs a prediction market called the Tech Buzz game.
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