New website Intrade makes predictions for users

Thaddeus Mast

A new website, Intrade, is becoming more popular as people begin discovering its effectiveness as “the world’s leading prediction market.”

Is Mitt Romney going to win the Republican presidential nominee? Will President Barack Obama be re-elected? Is “The Artist” going to win the Best Picture award at the Academy Awards? At, predictions can be made on these events and money can be won if voters choose correctly. is a prediction market. Based on the idea of a stock market, Intrade replaces shares of companies with shares of events. People buy or sell shares depending on if they think the event will happen or not. This raises or lowers the price of each share, which is directly proportional to the percentage chance that the event will happen. If it says 31.6 percent chance of happening, it costs $3.16 for a share. If someone chooses correctly, every share they have is turned into $10. If they lose, however, their share is worth nothing. What is unique in this system is that it can predict outcomes of political events.

“The political future’s cash markets are as accurate and often more accurate than all the public opinion polls taken,” said Steffen Schmidt, university professor of political science professor.

Intrade does have a record of being accurate.

“It’s true that Intrade, for the presidential election — I think it was 2004 — predicted every single state right,” said Mack Shelley, university professor of political science.

“I won the office poll for how the 2008 presidential election would come out by looking at Intrade a few days before the election,” Schmidt said. “I placed my money on the number of electoral votes that Intrade thought Barack Obama would get and I came within one electoral vote by doing that.”

This is due in large part to the people who use the site.

“With Intrade, it’s smart people who have some cash who are well-informed, read a lot, watch a lot of news, get on the Internet and then go in and put their money where they think things are going to be heading,” Schmidt said.

The website may not be as accurate as first expected, however.

“Intrade does have a pretty good reputation for predicting accuracy; it’s a little hard to know whether that’s going to hold up in the long term because it’s relatively recent,” Shelley said.

Intrade results are indirectly based off of standard surveys and polls, as the users will buy and sell shares based on the information given from these polls.

“What you have with Intrade is more or less a by-product of what you would see in polls,” Shelley said. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily any better at predicting outcomes than election surveys are.”

Anyone can use If someone does not want to make a user, there is an option to make a prediction without one.