BuzzFeed published a story this morning about a man who allegedly tried to influence the 2012 election results by spending lots of money on Mitt Romney "stocks" on Intrade:
Intrade is an online exchange where members make bets on various events, notably presidential elections, and is watched closely by political insiders to gauge the strength of a candidate. Intrade was thrust into the spotlight in 2008 when it correctly predicted the outcome of the presidential election.
[Microsoft Research’s David] Rothschild and [Columbia University’s Rajiv] Sethi found that a single trader accounted for one-third of all bets made on Romney during the two week period of the study, which saw about 3.5 million contracts traded. The total election cycle had 7.6 million contracts traded.
The trader bet solely on Romney and constantly sold on Obama, losing about $4 million in the process.
This makes absolutely no sense to me. It's the proverbial tail wagging the proverbial dog. Unless the attempt was to gin up support for Romney that just didn't exist, but even then, does anyone seriously believe that Intrade is a viable election prediction tool? Before the election, there were some contrarian essays that tried to deflate Nate Silver's predictions by quoting Intrade numbers, but those were dumb pieces written by dumb journalists seeking out dumb pageviews. Although I do like the possibility that a Romney supporter was so desperate to get his man into office that he was willing to surreptitiously manipulate a market to do it. Seems like an appropriate metaphor for the America that Mitt Romney believed in.