Trading politics: University runs market to predict provincial election results

By The Canadian Press
March 15, 2017 - 12:30pm

VANCOUVER — A professor at the University of British Columbia says using real money to predict election results can be more accurate than public polling.

Werner Antweiler runs the school’s online election market, where people use cash to buy contracts or “shares” representing political parties ahead of provincial or federal elections.

He says traders can either take long positions, buying shares in parties they think will grow in value, or short positions, where they buy shares they think are overvalued and then sell them to benefit.

The outcomes are all tied to real election results.

The school is running three markets tied to the B.C. provincial election on May 9, including a market gauging the popular vote, another on the share of seats each party wins in the legislature, and a third on which party will form a majority government.

Werner says election markets are particularly good at predicting seat shares and who may or may not form a majority government because traders have to gather a lot of information to be comfortable participating.

He says the markets are forward looking and take into account what people expect to happen in the future, whereas public opinion polls aggregate information from the past.

The Canadian Press

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