Non-Prophet Presidential Predictions (or Probabilities, Perhaps)

I’ve rediscovered my blog! The time since the beginning of the Fall Holy Days has been crazy, with not only Feast coordination (which went fantastically at the Lake of the Ozarks–thanks to all who pitched in!), but also with Tomorrow’s World Special Presentations (and a hearty thanks to all of you in Iowa, who showed up, helped, and gave me shelter and food that weekend!) and with Tomorrow’s World tapings last week (and more thanks, yet–thanks to the fantastic crew, editorial staff, and everyone else who makes the program a joy to work on!). But things are beginning to feel more normal again–other than the Council of Elders meeting coming up in November, life has calmed down.

Except for the Presidential Election this week!!!! Auuuuuugh!

OK, no freaking out there, either. What a blessing and comfort it is to know that God is in charge, and even if he appoints the basest of men next week, it will be for the purpose He is working out.

That said, it is high drama, and given that all indications are that the man elected next week will be facing remarkable events over the next four years–and we in America and the world will be facing them with him–one cannot help but wonder who it will be.

Any predictions? I could pretend to be a prophet and say who I think will win, then claim authoritatively “Like I said on Friday…” next week (unless I was wrong, in which case I could either point to the weasel words I sneaked into my prediction or else I not bring it up again). But let me say upfront, I am not a prophet, and the Church of God today has no prophet, though some certainly claim to be so. This is ground I’ve covered before, but it’s worth repeating… No one in the Living Church of God claims to be a prophet, and no one in any other organization I’ve ever seen (and regrettably, I’ve had to see a lot) shows the proper fruit of a prophet. None of us blogging out here in Internetland have any biblical evidence to show that we’re a prophet: myself, Bob Thiel, John Wheeler, various other bloggers I will not name, Facebookers, Tweeters, blog commenters, etc., etc., etc. — none of us have biblical prophet credentials. (Let’s be hip and call it “prophet cred”…) And none of those out there claiming to be one of the Two Witnesses fit the bill beyond the twisted passages and personal arguments they hold up as “evidence.” There simply is no prophet out there at this time.

So when I say this, I don’t speak as a prophet: I think that President Obama has the best chance of winning. (Note, I’m not expressing my preference in the matter, just what I think of the odds.)

I know that there are many people out there parsing the numbers, and they come up with various predictions. Karl Rove, for instance, wrote a very good argument in the Wall Street Journal yesterday (I think it was yesterday) pointing to Governor Romney as the likely victor. I’m not saying it isn’t possible–indeed, it’s a very real possibility. Then there are those who believe that a mysterious shadow government really controls everything and they will simply place their puppet into control regardless of the voting this Tuesday. I won’t address that beyond a quick mention of Isaiah 8:12. Still, others will look at the arc of prophecy and decide that either Mr. Obama or Mr. Romney would best suit the purpose of God in fulfilling that prophecy and claim that their choice will be God’s choice.  Some of them, of course, will be right about the conclusion (since one man will win or the other), and wrongly see that as confirmation of their prowess with understanding scripture, breaking their arms as they pat themselves on the back.

My sense is simpler than all of that. Even though so many of the opinion polls seem to be breaking for Governor Romney, I have a hard time getting past what the gamblers are saying, and the gamblers–as of today–still believe that Mr. Obama will win and seem to give him great odds: 67% that he will win, 33% that he will lose (as I write this at 10-ish AM, Friday morning). Check it out for yourself on Intrade. Unlike opinion polls, the prediction market isn’t asking who you like or who you’ll vote for–it’s asking who you think will win AND it’s asking you to put up good money on your belief. If you’ve never heard of prediction markets, the New Yorker had a good, brief article on them in 2007, and it’s essentially gambling structured like stock market futures trading. Now, I don’t gamble (work! Exodus 20:9!), but the success of these markets at predicting presidential election outcomes is pretty impressive.

The history of the gambling markets for presidential elections is fascinating, and apparently before the introduction of Gallup polls and the rest it was the gambling community that major newspapers looked to to forecast coming elections. An article on the Huffington Post describes a bit of history and the success rates such “markets” had seen in elections:

Gamblers’ success in this arena is nothing new. In presidential races beginning in 1896, the New York Times, Sun, and World provided daily betting quotes. The papers’ sources were bookies who had agents at every stump and whistle-stop to gather intel and quantify popular sentiment. Between 1884 and 1940, the bettors erred on just one of sixteen elections, Wilson’s 1916 upset of Hughes.

It’s actually an interesting article for those so inclined.  And 15 out of 16 — that’s a pretty good success rate.

Still, sometimes the horse with the best odds doesn’t come in first (or so I assume–I haven’t seen a Kentucky Derby since my mother died), and the gamblers only give low odds for Mr. Romney, not abysmal. Personally, I can see God accomplishing a number of things in the United States under either man’s leadership (or, perhaps, “leadership”). And as for what the reaction might be on election day, itself, given the emotions at play this year–especially if one of the candidates wins the Electoral College but not the popular vote–I will just say that we should pray for peace: Peaceful minds (our own, as well, if need be) and peaceful circumstances.

We’ll find out in just a few days…

16 thoughts on “Non-Prophet Presidential Predictions (or Probabilities, Perhaps)

  1. Very good post Mr. Smith and well said; who will win does not really matter because God is doing a work and it shall be as He allows it to be. My heart is heavy right now as I talked to my sister in NJ the other night and just got word from a former co-worker stationed in NJ of how things are. God is bringing things to a close in this world as we know it but it is still heart breaking that people are not “getting it”. I was thinking today about the fact that so far it has been a little here and little there but what will happen as the seals are broken and trumpets sound? When those things we saw on TV from LA, MS and AL and now from NJ, NY, WV and even here in OH are spread to every state across the US and even world wide. It’s easier to dismiss when it’s not in your own backyard. I will stop….just a lot on my mind…thank you for a good blog.

  2. For what ever reason it put me liking this post twice, a double square of my gravatar. That is just fine since it is a very good post. I watch the news, not every night on the T.V. I see it on line. People get so caught up in the elections and who is the best one for the job. I have never seen that in four years that a person or party did too much and they did not do much more in 8 years. They are not running the country according to God’s laws so to go beyond adding more debt and destruction and aiding the day that Christ comes, I can’t see that they do much. Each one says they are better suited for the job, each side lies about what they have done and will do and yet the American public at large votes for them anyhow. They think it UN-American not to vote. God rules, He will put whom ever will get the job needed done done. I have stopped saying I do not vote, I say it is between me and God what I do or don’t do. I have in the past seen people get extremely upset when I said I don’t and told them it was not God’s way that His people vote. I choose not to cause anyone to become that angry and I certainly do not want anyone to become violent. I personally will be glad when the election is over. Then the new segment of Life in These United States begins and God’s will for what will happen in the time left to us to do His will will be well under way. It is not a scary thing, it is a blessing to know that Christ will return to this earth and ruler, King and High Priest. God speed that day. I personally pray that these events in the weather with Sandy and other natural disasters to come will open peoples eyes and hearts to seek The Great God and His truth. To repent and cry out to Him for His Truth. We have good material for that, Who Controls the Weather is very good.
    I enjoyed this post Mr. Smith as I do all of your post. Thank you.

  3. Steven

    First off, welcome back Mr. Smith! I am looking forward to viewing the new “TW Special Presentations” you taped. As far as the election goes, I love the quote John LeBoutillier expressed about Obama on the radio this week “He couldn’t find a light switch in a lighted room”. HA! Ain’t that the truth. President Obama has also been described as a “Radical Socialist”. Here is a man who is essentially at war with Christianity. Allowing abortions is but one of the countless Godless things he believes in. In my opinion, Barack is one of the worst Presidents in United States history! I’m not going to go into all the problems he has created/failed to solve, because there is a list a mile long. You can start with “Obamacare” and go from there.

    Mitt Romney, is not the best choice on the Republican side either. His strength is clearly his business accumen. The good news is that if he wins, you should see a significant improvement in the unemployment rate and general economic growth. Having said this, the Republicans could have chosen a far better choice as presidential candidate. In my opinion, I like Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Jeb Bush as being far superior.

    Mr. Gingrich is (as far as I am concerned) a genius. He has a Ph.D. in History, and understands both economic and foreign policy a lot better than Obama. He is a truly brilliant debater, and would “eat Obama alive” in virtually any debate. I could listen to him talk all day long. Many do not like him (for a variety of reasons), but I forgive his past and choose to look at his political accomplishments and ability instead. Mr. Gingrich is a much different man than he was in his earlier days which is why I like him now.

    Both Ron Paul and Jeb Bush are also well-rounded in their approach with Mr. Paul being more of the “Libertarian”, but he too has some good ideas like going back to the “Gold Standard” for example.

    Generally speaking, Mitt Romney (other than the first debate) has run a HORRIBLE campaign! Mistake after mistake and STILL he is neck and neck with Obama. That should tell people how bad Mr. Obama truly is. If Mr. Romney ran even a “reasonably good” campaign, he would be up in the polls by at least 7 points or so.

    Having said all this, sadly, my prediction is that Mr. Obama will still win. I would love to see Romney pull it off, but I think that the victor has already been decided even before it began.

  4. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    Dear Mr. Smith,

    None of us blogging out here in Internetland have any biblical evidence to show that we’re a prophet: myself, Bob Thiel, John Wheeler, various other bloggers I will not name, Facebookers, Tweeters, blog commenters, etc., etc., etc. — none of us have biblical prophet credentials.

    Just how did my name get mixed up into this again? 😛 Hopefully in a good sense? 🙂

    Hopefully I have some “cred” as a scribe, but not as a prophet (cf. Matthew 23:34). But you just underlined why I worry when people take me as some kind of “authority”. I know you must feel the same way even though you have some constituted authority. And just to stay on topic, how much more should anybody who wants the office of POTUS “take heed lest he fall”? 😛

  5. Ha! Nothing personal, Mr. Wheeler. I was just trying to list names of individuals I know who blog or otherwise write on the Internet. I guess I missed Deano! Deano, consider yourself on the list, as well. 🙂

  6. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    Yeah, I wondered where the author of “Conscript’s Registry” was. 😀 Hey, just for the record (not now if you don’t want or can’t take the time), could you expound your best model of what “biblical prophet credentials”, as far as the New Testament has them, really are? I’d be fascinated and I’m sure it would be edifying to read.

    (Blatant Conflict of Interest Alert: 😉 I have a keen interest in this subject because I submitted a background paper to the Worldwide COG – which Dr. Hoeh reviewed and corrected where it needed correcting – and quite a few years later to the then-Global COG. Mr. Meredith apparently was quite impressed with it at the time, citing it without mentioning its author from the lectern on a video, and I heard about discussions of its ideas later, but nothing has been done with them since to my knowledge.)

  7. Hey, thanks for the reference to Bickers and Berry! I’d forgotten about their model, and I hadn’t heard anything about it this cycle up until your comment. I notice that they updated it at the beginning of October and it continued to predict a Romney victory. Actually, I’d like to see a good, well-constructed mathematical model out predict a bunch of gamblers. We’ll see on Tuesday!

  8. Texasborn

    Did any of you here know that every time the election was held on November the 6th, that the Republican candidate was the winner of the popular vote? How long will the streak continue? We’ll know in four more days!

  9. About time you showed up. Stop being so busy. Not likely to happen, course. Good to see you blog again, Mr Smith.

    I don’t know who will win the election, but the historical pattern shows that the incumbent usually receives a second term. Time will tell. (I don’t vote, of course, but in my wayward youth I did have a slight preference for… Pat Paulsen).

  10. As long as you’re on the subject, perhaps you can help me with a couple of questions that have bothered me for some time. They represent gray areas in my knowledge or understanding.

    First, does God specifically choose every leader in every nation every single time? Or, are there times when God simply allows certain leaders to arise, because it doesn’t interfere with His purpose, and it happens to be a leader that said nation deserves? You know what I mean?

    Second, when people ask me why I don’t vote, do I handle my reply correctly? I don’t want to say “for religious reasons,” because that immediately puts them on the defensive, waiting for some kind of proselytizing. Instead, I give them practical secular reasons that they can understand and fit with my religious beliefs. Am I handling that right?

    (A non-profit organization has put out an online computer “game,” where you get to make the decisions about fixing the federal budget and U.S. debt problems. The lesson I got was… what a really, really big mess. Very educational, though).

  11. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    Steve: I was always rather fond of his gun-control policy: let people keep their guns and take away all their bullets. 😀 A great would-be presidential oak that grew up from a small-town nut. 😉

  12. Howdy, all! Been a bit behind and confusingly non-linear on the comment approvals–sorry! Some lightning re-comments: Biblical model of prophet cred: Actually, sermonizing on it this month in my area, and would rather do that for the moment. 🙂 Pat Paulsen: Ha! I bet he’d get a lot of votes this year. Voting & God’s choices: I think it’s too big a topic to lay out here. I believe there is interaction between God’s providential will, his permissive will, et al. in such things: seeing that His plan unfolds according to His desires, yet giving the people the leader they want (for which, democracy is great; He did something similar in Saul, as he fit the idea of carnal kingly expectations in many ways, unlike David). Handling the voting question: I think we all have to figure out how to handle such questions in a manner best suited to us. At the same time, I think we can mention our religious motivations in a way that wouldn’t come across as active proselytizing. And you never know, God may have provided the opportunity that question presents. 🙂 Online “game” about fixing problems: That sounds fascinating–where did you find it?

  13. @John: I enjoyed Pat Paulsen’s wit, because he lampooned politics in sometimes insightful ways. “I sincerely accept your support, even though I greedily desire it.” And “I am a simple man from humble beginnings, and savior of America.”

    Thanks for answering my questions, Mr Smith. I got something out of it. And the online “game” is Best of wishes on fixing the budget.

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