The wager

Wednesday, October 24, 2012...Reviewing the sources listed below, I placed two bets on Obama to win these electoral college results £50 to win 290-309 electoral votes, odds 7/2. £50 to exceed 289 electoral votes, odds 5/6.

I reviewed the outcomes of previous elections and polls at electoral-vote.

I reviewed up-to-date polls and statistics compiled by Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight

I used the interactive map at 270towin

My thinking was that the outcome would be slightly less favorable than 2008; Obama would take exactly two of Colorado, Virginia, and Ohio, putting the total above 290, and if he won all three the total would still be only 303.


(In days leading up to the event)

Oh crap! Obama's projected to win 308, 309, 313! Ack. I should have waited another week.


I would have done better to simply bet that Obama would win over 289. But I got greedy. I did not expect Florida! At two weeks before the event, it was a statistical dead heat. As Jon Stewart astutely pointed out, the election was decided without them. Nevertheless, Obama was ahead in Florida by 50,000+ and Romney conceded on November 9. But after recuperating my win of £50 × 5/6 = 41.67 I only lost £8.33, net.

Lessons learned

  • Electoral math is like blackjack: the dealer always hits on 16
  • Hedge your bets, but don't bet against your favorite
  • Yay, gambling is fun. It's okay to lose a little, don't take it too seriously.

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