Gambling and Polling

I learned statistics before I learned polling.  While most mathematics came from academics, statistics came from gamblers.  When the folks who are doing the polls aren’t coming up with data that provides answers, it can be advantageous to go back to our statistical roots – and with the internet, that’s fairly easy.

I’ve watched Nate Silver, and his models have been good – the problem is that when you’re number one, there is only one way to go, and soon or late, fivethirtyeight is going to miss.  So, let’s look at what the gamblers are betting on.

The betting is about 2:1 for the Republicans to control the Senate, and 7 out of 8 that they’ll take charge of the House. 

Fivethirtyeight ranks the Senate as a 48% chance for Republican control, and 52% chance for the Dems.  On the House, they show 81% chance of Republican control, and 19% chance for the Dems. 

Here in Western Montana, Fivethirtyeight lays it out as 94% Zinke over just 6% chance for Tranel to win.

It’s going to be interesting to see whether the bettors are a better predictor than the pollsters.

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