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Betting on 2022

A Commentary By John Stossel

Some pundits say that Democrats will win the midterms.

MSNBC tells us, "Democrats are seeing momentum headed into midterms." Nancy Pelosi claimed, "We will hold the House by winning more seats!"

Really? Want to bet?

This fall, CNN's Douglas Brinkley said, "There is a blue wave going on right now."

Michael Moore agreed, "There is going to be such a landslide" of elected Democrats.

At the time those predictions were made, people who bet on elections believed Republicans had better than a 70% chance of winning back the House.

Whom should we trust?

We can listen to:

No. 1: People who bet.

No. 2: The media pundits.

No. 3: Polls.

No. 4: Professional election forecasters.

Among forecasters, Nate Silver has the best track record. As I write, his FiveThirtyEight website gives Democrats a 55% chance to hold the Senate. The Economist's forecasters give Democrats even better odds.

But I don't believe them.

I believe the people who bet. That's the topic of my latest video.

At the moment, the bettors think Republicans have a 60% chance to win the Senate and an 88% chance to win the House.

I take these numbers from ElectionBettingOdds.com, a website I helped start. StosselTV producer Maxim Lott averages predictions from betting sites around the world and converts them to easy-to-understand percentages.

I trust those numbers more than other predictors because in the past, the bettors were right more often than anyone else.

Bettors don't get everything right.

In 2016, they, like most everyone else, thought Hillary Clinton would become president. A week before Election Day, she was a 75% favorite.

But on Election Day, I saw how betting markets find the truth more quickly than others. Before the votes were counted, bettors were switching to Trump.

On election night, it was fun to watch the silly people on TV. Even after bettors were switching, pundits still said that Hillary would win. "Trump is more likely than not to lose," proclaimed Dana Bash on CNN.

Only hours after the betting shifted did TV anchors finally adjust their predictions.

In 2020, bettors correctly predicted Biden's win, and called nearly every state correctly.

Over time, betting has been a better predictor than polls, pundits, statistical models and everything else. There's something about "putting your money where your mouth is" that focuses the mind.

ElectionBettingOdds.com tracked hundreds of races. It turns out that when bettors think a candidate has a 63% chance, those candidates do win roughly 63% of the time.

One reason bettors predict more accurately is because bettors consider things polls and prediction models often miss.

In 2016, Clinton-favoring polls overlooked people without college degrees. Polltakers were also misled by Trump supporters who refused to talk to them.

Most betting markets, like FTX, Betfair, Smarkets and Polymarket, only allow non-Americans to bet. That's because uptight, narrow-minded American politicians banned gambling on elections.

Fortunately, they made an exception for PredictIt.org. There, Americans are allowed to bet up to $850.

Our foolish bureaucrats promise to shut PredictIt down, but for now, we can take advantage of the "wisdom of the crowd" that Predictit provides.

Which party will win the Pennsylvania senate race? Republican Mehmet Oz is favored, 54 cents to 49 cents.

Who will be Arizona's next governor? Kari Lake leads 82 cents to 22 cents.

The first Cabinet member to quit? Janet Yellen, at 32 cents (out of a dollar). Then Alejandro Mayorkas, at 21 cents.

If you think you know more than the bettors, you can try to make money by betting at Predictit.org. If you are not American, FTX, Betfair, Smarkets and Polymarket will take your bets. All this betting gives us valuable information about the likely future.

Since betting markets are clearly superior predictors, I'm surprised that anyone still pays attention to pundits. I no longer watch the blabbermouths on television.

I check the odds at ElectionBettingOdds.com.

Every Tuesday at JohnStossel.com, Stossel posts a new video about the battle between government and freedom. He is the author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media."


See Other Political Commentaries.

See Other Commentaries by John Stossel.

Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports. Comments about this content should be directed to the author or syndicate.

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