Online betting on George W now used as popularity measure
By abigail
As speculation over George W Bush’s future as President intensifies as the election date gets closer, betting on online sites regarding the outcome is also picking up. In fact the popularity of the sites means that now they are often used as benchmarks alongside polls to try and predict the outcome. The changing odds on sites can be used to track Bush’s changing popularity figures just as poll data has been used in the past.

William Hill for example, offers odds on the outcome of the election, that have changed over time accompanying the events which affect Bush’s popularity with the American public. Originally the odds favoured Bush’s re-election, 1.72 versus Kerry’s odds of 2, but currently the odds are now equal at 1.83 each.

Another online betting exchange TradeSports has played host to heavy trading since January 2003, when it launched its betting on the outcome of the election. The site is mentioned in publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times as an extra barometer of Bush’s popularity.

Like the William Hill site, the odds on Bush’s second term fluctuate as events unfold, with prices rising significantly after Saddam Hussein’s capture in Dec last year, and then falling steadily as it was followed by news of complications in the restructuring of Iraq. In the last month prices have started to rise again, following events such as Bush’s speech at the Army War College in May. The online sites overall have been more optimistic than polls, and their overall odds and movements are being taken seriously as commentators continue to try and anticipate the result of the upcoming election.

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