Another top political handicapper forecasts larger GOP gains – CNN Political Ticker

“We are revising our House forecast to a Republican gain of at least 40 seats, the minimum to give them majority status, and very possibly substantially more.”

Earlier Tuesday the Rothenberg Political Report put out new prediction pointing towards likely GOP gains from 37 to 42 seats in the chamber, up from the 28 to 33 seats predicted in their most recent forecast.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

The Cook Political report put out a new prediction late Tuesday morning pointing towards GOP gains in the chamber of at least 40 seats, up from their most recent forecast of up to 35 seats.

“Over the summer, the ‘macro’ national diagnostic indicators have pointed toward very large Republican gains but only now can we look race-by-race, a micro-political approach, and see the district level data to say that the House has reached the tipping point,” says Cook Political Report House Editor David Wasserman. The Republicans need a net gain of 39 seats to take back control of the House.

Washington (CNN) – Hours after one of the nation’s top non-partisan political handicappers increased his forecast of how many seats the Republicans may pick up in the House of Representatives this November, another also raised the ante.

The Most Accurate Election Forecast? Hardcore Gamblers

He’s in no way a Damon Runyon character. Probably hundreds of fifth-grade social studies students correctly predicted Bush’s margin of victory to a decimal place, right?

“On Election Night I’ll look at the movement on the betting sites to see what’s going on,” Strumpf says.

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Koleman Strumpf, a University of Kansas economics professor who tracks betting trends, believes wagering is an incomparable barometer of an election. A John McCain win would pay $6.80 for every dollar bet.

The multi-billion dollar online gaming industry offers evidence that Maloney and Paulick are, as usual, on the money.

The advent of polls marked the end of an era. “There are many, many, many more factors to consider in betting horseraces,” he said.

Betfair also had all 50 states right in 2004. Nor do polls take into account how each state’s secretary of state factors in, or systems within a state designed to eliminate voters; Jimmy the Greek called these ‘the intangibles.'”

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Relative to the polls, the betting markets have to think hard about what they’re saying since they are putting their money at stake. And the gamblers might have had a perfect record had the Curb Market stayed open long enough to take into account late-breaking news from the West.

Michael Robb, political expert for the British bookmaking site Betfair.com, lets the record speak for itself: Halfway through Election Day in 2004, when a CNN poll showed Kerry taking the lead, Betfair had Bush with a 91% chance to win.

As did rival site Intrade. “Gamblers have more experience with cheaters,” he said.

Of course that’s just one election. Several newer off-shore sites are more lenient, however. Betting persisted, but in the shadows.

For a second opinion I went to Ray Paulick, who was a protégé of notorious oddsmaker “Jimmy The Greek” before becoming a handicapper for the Daily Racing Form.

Responding to such discomfort, state laws increasingly limited organized election betting. “When scientific polls came along, newspapers had something to report other than markets they were oftentimes uncomfortable with.”

I asked him: “Do you think handicappers can forecast the outcome of the presidential election better than polls?”

He didn’t hesitate. Among the reasons he gave me:

It’s still illegal for United States citizens to wager on the presidential election; Betfair and Intrade try to bar American bettors. “Prior to Gallup’s introduction in 1936, newspapers had little else to report about the election horserace other than the betting markets,” Strumpf said. Now he’s editor of the thoroughbred industry insiders’ must-read Paulick Report. A pollster can still bill for an inaccurate poll. Accordingly little data exists from 1940 through 1984, though it’s enough that Strumpf concludes gamblers were more accurate than the pollsters in that period too. A “whale” (bettor of thousands of dollars per day) I interviewed, Mike Maloney, successfully traded securities, options and futures, but chose to go to the track every day instead because it offered him a greater challenge. “They take voter fraud into their metrics.

In the fifteen elections between 1884 and 1940, the betting firms were wrong just once, in 1916, when Wilson upset Hughes. Betting on political outcomes often drew huge crowds to Wall Street and exceeded trading in stocks and bonds. “Polls can be inaccurate. I have reason to believe he’s a sort of mathematical genius. . Polls don’t. “I watch CNN too, out of the corner of an eye, but it’s not necessary.”

Recently I was in Kentucky, reporting on horseracing for Garden & Gun. He doesn’t chomp on a cigar. Bookmakers must make an accurate line or they lose — period.”

The papers’ sources were betting firms, which had men present at speeches made by the candidates in order to make “unbiased reports of the psychological reactions of the audiences.”

They begin with America’s long history of wagering on political outcomes, which boomed in the 1880s when betting moved from poolrooms to the Curb Exchange, the predecessor to the American Stock Exchange.

With University of Arizona economist Paul Rhode, Strumpf authored a study — “Historical Presidential Betting Markets,” published in Journal of Economic Perspectives — that demonstrates that the betting market’s forecasting superiority is nothing new. Also polls tend to reflect what people are thinking at a given moment, versus a forecast of what will happen on election day — post-convention bounces, for instance.

“In presidential races such as 1896, 1900, 1904, 1916, and 1924, the New York Times, Sun, and World provided nearly daily [betting] quotes from early October until Election Day,” write Rhode and Strumpf. People may say what is politically correct, the questions may be leading, the pollsters may be biased.

The advent of internet wagering offers a clearer picture: “Since 1988, the betting markets have definitely been more accurate,” Strumpf said.

Currently, Betfair lists Barack Obama as an overwhelming 1-7 favorite (paying $8 for a $7 winning bet).

Maloney is a youthful fifty-two, with alert, light blue eyes and a cheerful demeanor

CIA nominee to face questions on interrogations, drones and leaks | Reuters

attorney in Baltimore is examining leaks about the alleged role of U.S. attorney in Washington is looking into leaks which led to the premature end of an undercover operation to infiltrate al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the militant network’s Yemen-based affiliate.

Brennan subsequently advised former U.S. He and Obama administration officials have also said that Brennan had objected privately to fellow intelligence officers about the techniques’ use.

(Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by Claudia Parsons and Christopher Wilson)

This time human rights groups have raised questions about Brennan, but opposition has come nowhere close to the level mounted by conservative and pro-Israel groups against Chuck Hagel, Obama’s nominee to replace Leon Panetta at the Pentagon.

WASHINGTON President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, is expected to face tough questioning about leaks of sensitive information and U.S. Reuters later learned that British intelligence agencies helped to plant an informant in AQAP, and that their operation, in which Saudi and U.S. agencies in cyber-warfare activities against Iran, including deployment of a virus known as Stuxnet.

As Reuters reported earlier this month based on sources, classified CIA message traffic shows that Brennan had detailed, contemporaneous knowledge of the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including waterboarding.

LEAK INVESTIGATIONS

However, leaks are only one of the major issues about which intelligence committee members plan to question Brennan, a former CIA executive under President George W. Brennan said his lawyer had been told by prosecutors that he was “only a witness” in both investigations.

The U.S. had disrupted a plot to bomb an airliner with a newly designed “underwear bomb.”. Brennan said the investigations related to cyber warfare against Iran and a foiled bomb plot tied to al Qaeda’s Yemen-based affiliate. had “inside control.”

After he temporarily left government service in 2005, Brennan publicly renounced waterboarding and other physically painful interrogation techniques. personnel and innocent civilians.”

Brennan is also likely to face questions about the news leaks, which are under federal investigation, although a congressional source said no evidence has emerged yet that Brennan played a role in some of the leaks.

Democrats also are expected to question Brennan, the top White House adviser on counterterrorism and homeland security, on the Obama administration’s use of armed drone aircraft to attack suspected al Qaeda militants and encampments in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.

Despite the range of expected questions, Senate aides and political handicappers say they have not sensed a groundswell of opposition to Brennan’s nomination.

Questions about drones are expected after the leak this week of an unclassified Justice Department paper outlining Obama administration legal justifications for using armed drones to attack U.S. Bush, who has become the steward of Obama’s drone policies.

DRONE PROCEDURES

Human rights activists and many U.S. spy activities from waterboarding to the use of drones when he appears at a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday.

He maintained that after being named White House counter-terrorism advisor, “I was put in a position to influence decisions related to EITS, such as how we handle interrogations, and I strongly support the president’s ban on such techniques.”

“I voiced those objections privately with colleagues at the agency,” Brennan continued, adding: “When I left the agency, I spoke publicly about those concerns.”

This led to a statement by one TV pundit that the United States apparently had “somebody on the inside” of the plot. politicians, including intelligence committee chairwoman Senator Dianne Feinstein and Republican Senator John McCain, have condemned some of the interrogation techniques as torture.

In a written submission posted on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s website on Wednesday, Brennan acknowledged for the first time that he had given voluntary interviews in connection with investigations into leaks that are being conducted by federal prosecutors in Baltimore and Washington.

The CIA, which under Bush ran a network of secret prisons overseas where many of the so-called enhanced interrogations were conducted, was now “out of the detention business and it should stay that way.”

Brennan’s knowledge of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques is likely to provoke intense committee questioning.

In his written submissions to the intelligence committee, Brennan declared that he had “significant concerns and personal objections to many elements of the EIT (enhanced interrogation technique)” program while it was under way.

WATERBOARDING QUESTIONS

Brennan first surfaced as an Obama CIA nominee in 2008 but he withdrew after human rights activists protested his equivocal public statements regarding the agency’s use of “enhanced interrogation” techniques, including the simulated drowning practice known as “waterboarding.”

In his written submissions to the panel, Brennan said drone strikes were targeted “against specific al Qaeda terrorists in order to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States and to save American lives.” He insisted those attacks were conducted “in full compliance with the law.”

He said drone strikes hit their targets with “astonishing precision” and therefore “dramatically reduce the danger to U.S. agencies also cooperated, had to be wound up prematurely because of leaks.

Congressional aides said much of the questioning is expected to focus on what Brennan knew about the Bush administration’s use of harsh interrogation techniques on Islamic militant suspects captured and held, sometimes in secret CIA prisons, after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

The U.S. counter-terrorism officials who are TV news pundits that the plot was never a serious threat because the U.S. citizens alleged to be involved in terrorist plots.

Former Bush administration officials involved in the program say they do not recall such objections.

The Associated Press first reported last May that the U.S