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

I'm a political theorist and Visiting Professor (through 2017) in the Program on Ethics, Politics and Economics at Yale. My interests include the history of political thought, toleration, democratic theory, political ethics, problems of coordination and convention, the realist movement in political theory, and the thought of David Hume. My first book, Ruling Passions: Political Offices and Democratic Ethics (Princeton, 2002) covered many of these topics, with a special focus on the varieties of democratic politics and the disparate qualities of mind and character appropriate to those who practice each of them. My second book Hume's Politics: Coordination and Crisis in the History of England was published in 2012; I am currently finishing a book on toleration, with the working title The Virtues of Hypocrisy, under contract with Harvard University Press. A Los Angeles native, I got my B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard. Before coming to Yale I taught at Vanderbilt and at UCLA, where I was an Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor; and held visiting positions at Williams, Harvard, and Princeton. I am married to Miriam Laugesen, who teaches health policy and the politics of health care at the Mailman School of public health at Columbia, and we have a twelve-year-old son.