New First - and Low for Obama

Like many politically active people, I avidly follow various political polls, checking at least one each day to ascertain where the weight of public opinion falls on the issues of the day, or the electability (or re-electability) of this or that candidate.

But candidate polls, of course, serve two purposes:  to gauge current public opinion and also to predict the future, i.e., whether a particular candidate actually will win the relevant election.

As useful and informative as polls may be, there is an arguably better predictor:  Intrade, the "political betting" Web site, where those who would opine on an upcoming election result must back their opinions with cash.  Because of this requirement to "put one's money where one's mouth is," many, including this writer consider Intrade an equally good, and arguably better, predictor of election results.

So when Intrade speaks, this writer listens.  When polls show President Obama's approval consistently below 50%, when polls show an generic Republican defeating Obama in 2012, but Intrade has him consistently above 50%, I take the poll results with a hailstone-sized grain of salt.

But perhaps not today, for, at the time of this writing, for the first time ever, Obama is below 50% on Intrade.  Only a tenth of a percentage point (49.9%), mind you, and he may very well be back above 50% by the time the reader reads this.

But it's a first, and worth noting.

Gene Schwimmer is the author of The Christian State.