Bush, Kerry Are Even in IEM

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's choice of John Edwards as his running mate boosted the Massachusetts senator's prospects on the political futures markets where investors can bet on the outcome of the November election. The Iowa Electronic Markets, probably the best-known of the political futures markets, saw Kerry draw even with President Bush at the end of trading on Tuesday and take the lead in early trading on Wednesday. The market, run since 1988 by the University of Iowa, works through investors wagering up to $500 in contracts betting on a Bush or Kerry victory in the Nov. 2 popular vote. If an investor buys a Bush contract and Bush wins the popular vote, that contract will pay $1. If Bush loses, the contract becomes worthless. So at Wednesday's prices, investors were betting 49 cents for a chance to win a buck if Bush is re-elected. "We've compared our predictions to many public opinion polls for the past four presidential elections and we have outperformed the polls 76 percent of the time," said University of Iowa finance professor TOM RIETZ.