PredictWise Blog

As we reach the halfway mark in primary season, PredictWise is pausing to take stock of our predictions so far and how effective the political markets have been in forecasting the winner. We've made calls at least a week in advance for 26 primary contests so far—every matchup, excluding territories and nontraditional matchups in Missouri and Wyoming. Our predictions, which are based on data from the gambling markets at Intrade and Betfair, were correct in 18 of those seven days before the election. At five days out, the odds rose to 21 in 26. Interestingly, they were equally accurate one day ahead of time.

It's easy to assume that the reason we—or anyone else—got some of those predictions incorrect is that our methods are flawed. But one of the principal lessons of this campaign cycle, so far, is that in fact elections are subject to the fall of the dice, and that no model for predicting them can ever be correct in every instance. In other words, we don't want to be right all of the time. That is why we attach likelihoods to all of our forecasts. When we say Rick Santorum has a 50 percent likelihood of winning a state, we literally mean he will win every other time. When we say 20 percent likelihood, we mean it will happen 1 out of 5 times.

Click Here for the Full Text on Yahoo!'s The Signal

Rick Santorum is going to win the Louisiana primary today with 97 percent certainty. Then he is highly likely to lose the three following primaries on April 3 to front-runner Mitt Romney: Washington, D.C. (Romney at 96.3 percent), Maryland (Romney at 97.1 percent), and Wisconsin (Romney at 90.6 percent). More importantly, Romney is now 91.1 percent likely to capture the Republican nomination, according to prediction market data.

OK, I have provided the necessary political commentary for the day. Now let us return to the more exciting contests.

Kentucky continues to dominate the NCAA tournament, and now stands at 35.5 percent likely to win the tournament; Kentucky's rise from 26.7 percent to 35.5 percent is an interesting story. Its largest sustained jump in likelihood did not occur during any of its three tournament wins (which were highly anticipated), but during Michigan State's loss. That loss (which we gave a meaningful 33.5 percent likelihood) ensured that the winner of the South Region would face no higher than a fourth seed in the semifinal contest. Kentucky is strongly favored against No. 3 Baylor to make that trip to the Final Four.

Click Here for the Full Text on Yahoo!'s The Signal

Once again, we're taking a break from politics to discuss the most pressing upcoming contest in America: March Madness. Kentucky heads into the Sweet Sixteen in the same place it was a week ago, the overwhelming favorite to win the championship at a 29.9 percent likelihood of victory. Mitt Romney is slightly more likely to win the Presidency than Kentucky is to win the NCAA crown, but let's be fair: Kentucky has four rounds left, while Romney only has two.

Click Here for the Full Text on Yahoo!'s The Signal

Mitt Romney is poised to capture an easy victory tonight in the Illinois primary. The prediction markets currently give the former governor a 97.4 percent chance of winning the state, with Rick Santorum trailing at just 3.2 percent. We've seen Santorum overcome long odds before, but not at this steep of a disadvantage going into the day.

The following chart shows the progression of our forecasts, compared with the poll-based forecast that the New York Times' Nate Silver publishes on the FiveThirtyEight blog:

Click Here for the Full Text on Yahoo!'s The Signal

Kentucky is the top ranked NCAA basketball team in the country and the clear favorite to win the tournament at 26.7 percent odds. Those are tremendous odds, given that the team has to win six straight games against the best teams in the country (if you county an opening round game against 16-seed Western Kentucky).

The presence of Kentucky makes the South region the most dangerous for other top ranked teams: No. 2 Duke, No. 3 Baylor, and No. 4 Indiana all have the lowest likelihood of winning the title compared with the other teams of similar rankings.

The East is the most wide-open region due to the ineligibility of top ranked Syracuse's start center, Fab Melo. Second ranked Ohio State is 12.1 percent likely to win the tournament, the highest odds for a team not in the top seed. Fifth ranked Vanderbilt is the most likely seed outside the top 4 to escape their region.

Click Here for the Full Text on Yahoo!'s The Signal

2011-12 NCAA Championship - Likelihood to Win