All the spin money can buy?

Why is someone betting the bank on McCain–and Hillary?

Nate Silver notes that the InTrade presidential futures numbers are suspiciously good for McCain–different enough from the other markets that arbitrage would normally make the difference go away (and does, regularly, until another big InTrade bet bumps up the difference again). Interestingly, someone is buying big futures positions not just in McCain but in Hillary Clinton.

Nate suggests that someone thinks he or she has reason to believe Barack Obama isn’t going to make it through the election. This suggestion is incendiary but not therefore false: I second Nate’s proposal to have the FBI look into it. But a simpler hypothesis seems just as plausible. Someone with very deep pockets has decided that the easiest way to influence the election on behalf of McCain is not to buy third-party advertising but to bump up the InTrade markets. It doesn’t have to work for more than a couple of hours at a time to have some effect on both reporters’ campaign narrative and donor and volunteer morale–especially given that InTrade is by far the most famous of these markets in the U.S.

Wild speculation? Sure. (And feel free to email, or link to me on your own blog, with reasons I must be wrong.) But then again, the phenomenon I’m trying to explain is an episode of–wild speculation, in fact speculation that seems guaranteed to have strange reasons behind it.

Author: Andrew Sabl

Andrew Sabl, a political theorist, is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Ruling Passions: Political Offices and Democratic Ethics and Hume’s Politics: Coordination and Crisis in the History of England, both from Princeton University Press. His research interests include political ethics, liberal and democratic theory, toleration, the work of David Hume, and the realist school of contemporary political thought. He is currently finishing a book for Harvard University Press titled The Uses of Hypocrisy: An Essay on Toleration. He divides his time between Toronto and Brooklyn.