Predicting CW

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A lot of people seem fascinated with things like the political predictions charts on Intrade. I, frankly, would very much like to be fascinated with them. But in reality, they're deadly boring. Take the betting on the Republican nomination, for example. It's clearly just a kind of lagging indicator of semi-informed conventional wisdom. The crowd didn't have a premonition of Mike Huckabee's rise and -- more damningly -- the crowd didn't have the foreknowledge to recognize that Huckabee's surge was going to lead to a backlash and heightened scrutiny. So he skyrockets up and then down he dips.

On the Democratic side, meanwhile, Hillary is currently valued at 66.9 and I'm absolutely certain that if she loses in Iowa (of which there's certainly more than a 33 percent chance of happening) then she'll plunge.

Not that any of that is wrong, but it's not especially interesting. You'd like to see some kind of noteworthy divergence between what the betting markets are saying and what people in DC speculate about around the water cooler. Instead, you get something that seems to be an equal blend of what people say around the water cooler with national polls. In formal terms, I guess the problem is that everyone is working off the same bits of inadequate information so nothing's really being aggregated. We all know what the latest polls say and that the outcomes in the early states matter more. Put all of us knowing the same thing together and what you get is dull, dull, dull.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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