Obama vs McCain: Can an Election Futures Market Predict the Presidential Election More Accurately Than an Opinion Poll?

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New Civics Lesson Plan Challenges High School Students to Explore Economic Systems, Polling Data and Election Results

This year's historical presidential campaign is generating tremendous interest, both in the United States and abroad. As a result, public-opinion polls are trying hard to predict the outcome.

But with the election less than three weeks away, should the focus be on the daily closing prices instead of daily tracking polls?

This question is the subject of a new lesson plan from the National Council on Economic Education called "Can Election Futures Markets Be More Accurate than Polls." This activity-based lesson plan, available as a free download at http://www.ncee.net/civics, introduces high school students to futures markets; reinforces the importance of civic responsibility; and examines the reliability of public opinion polls.

"People are looking for information to help them predict the outcome of the 2008 election. Is now the time to look to an election futures market for the most accurate forecast?" asks Troy D. White, NCEE's Director of Product Marketing and Sales. "This lesson plan gives teachers a thought-provoking way to introduce economic concepts into the presidential elections, while simultaneously engaging students in the election process."

How the Lesson Plan Works

So, is the Iowa Electronic Markets really a more reliable method of predicting the winner of presidential elections?

Using data from the 2004 elections, students compare the results from major public-opinion polls and the Iowa Electronic Markets, which is a futures market where election and economic outcomes are traded. Then, the students analyze how public-opinion polls operate and explore how an election futures market functions.

Finally, the teacher generates a discussion that covers:

a) the challenges that polling companies face
b) why an election futures market might be a better way to predict the outcome
c) the role that incentives, supply, demand, and voluntary exchange play in a market

Additional Lesson Plans to Extend and Reinforce the Concepts
Teachers can use additional resources to supplement the lesson, including online lessons from NCEE's popular EconEdLink (http://www.econedlink.org) Web site.

Teachers can download the lesson plan for free, and have the opportunity to interact with other teachers by posting feedback and ideas at http://www.ncee.net/civics. The lesson plan is correlated to the Voluntary National Content Standards in Economics, as well as the National Standards for Civics and Government.

About the Can Election Futures Markets Be More Accurate than Polls Lesson Plan
To download the lesson plan and join the discussion, visit http://www.ncee.net/civics

About the National Council on Economic Education (NCEE)
The NCEE (http://www.ncee.net) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to improving economic and financial literacy. Both directly and through its unique nationwide network of state Councils and more than 200 university based Centers for Economic Education, NCEE's programs reach more than 150,000 K-12 teachers and over 15 million students in more than 70,000 schools each year.

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