Polls as Probabilities and Political Donations

I have a couple of pieces in the papers today. The first piece, in the Sydney Morning Herald, looks at political donations, and the evidence we have on whether donors buy favours. The US evidence seems to suggest that they do. I then propose an idea we put forward in Imagining Australia – that blind trusts could help us break the nexus between donations and favours, without reducing the amount of money in politics, and without further burdening the taxpayer (as full public funding would do).

The second piece, with Justin Wolfers in the Australian Financial Review, suggests that polls can be presented as probabilities (once you’ve read the piece, see here for more detail on the methodology). Pooling last weekend’s polls, and applying this method, the ALP looks to be a 12% chance to win. By contrast, Centrebet rates the ALP a 23% chance (ie. if we ran the 2004 election eight times, the polls think Latham would win 1/8, while the betting markets think he’d win 2/8).

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