On May 24, an 18-year-old killed 19 elementary school students and two adults in Uvalde, Texas. AP News reports that this is the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, where 20 children and six adults were killed. This latest tragedy has sparked renewed calls for federal gun control regulations. However, PredictIt’s balance of power market didn’t move in response to the Texas elementary school shooting. This political betting market does not believe the Robb Elementary shooting will make a difference in the 2022 midterms.
In contrast, the Roe v. Wade leak on May 2 caused PredictIt’s only market shock in its balance of power market. Trading volume jumped from 2,000 on May 1 to 64,600 on May 2, a 3,130% increase. The price of a Republican House and Senate dropped seven cents, from 76 cents to 69 cents. Prices restabilized by May 5. The Republican House and Senate outcome regained five cents of its value, rising back to 74 cents. Shortly after the Roe leak, bettors returned to the conclusion that the Republicans would regain the House and Senate.
PredictIt’s reaction to Texas elementary school shooting was completely muted. No drastic changes in trading volume or outcome price coincided with the shooting. Trading volume increased from 7,500 to 4,300, which is inside the normal range of activity for PredictIt’s balance of power market. Never for a moment did PredictIt’s market believe that another mass shooting would affect the midterms.
Historically, the PredictIt market is correct.
|Trading Volume - Day of Event||Trading Volume - Day Before Event||Price Change - Republican House & Senate|
|Roe v. Wade Leak||64.6k||2.0k||7-cent drop|
|Robb Elementary Shooting||7.5k||4.3k||No change|
Midterms After Previous High-Profile Shootings
In December 2012, a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary, killing 20 children and six adults. A month before, Democrats held the Senate and Republicans held the House. In the 2014 midterms, Republicans gained control of the Senate and held the House. Key issues included President Obama’s low approval rating and the uneven recovery of the US economy that failed to lift middle-class voters. Gun policy didn’t make the top three issues in that election. An ABC poll found the most important issues to voters included:
- Gay Marriage
Gun policy did not decide the 2014 midterms.
In February 2018, a gunman killed 17 people at Parkland High School. This high-profile shooting was only seven months before the 2018 midterms. However, gun policy took a back seat for most voters in that election too. The 2018 midterms were partly about voting against President Trump. But MSNBC reported a national exit poll that found the most important issues to voters included:
- Healthcare – 41%
- Immigration – 23%
- Economy – 21%
- Gun Policy – 11%
Only 11% of voters polled listed gun policy as their most important issue. Even controlling for a sample that skewed Democratic, when most voters go to the polls, it’s not because of gun policy.
Further, increased numbers of mass shootings haven’t led to federal action on gun control, either. According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, the United States experienced 272 mass shootings in 2014. In 2021, that number rose to 692. High-profile school shootings before midterms weren’t major electoral issues in the past. Neither has the increase in mass shootings.
Why The Roe Leak Moved PredictIt More Than The Texas Elementary School Shooting
“I can’t help but think this will follow the exact same pattern as everything else,” Robbie Parker, a parent who lost a child in the Sandy Hook shooting said in an interview with the New York Times.
Parker’s resignation about the pattern of gun violence in the United States is the human reaction that seems to be behind the lack of movement in PredictIt’s balance of power market. It explains the different market reactions to the Roe leak and the Robb Elementary shooting.
While gun violence is a familiar tragedy to Americans, losing federal protection for abortion rights is a new threat. The fight to protect abortion rights is not new. The political battles over abortion rights are not new. But overturning a seminal Supreme Court decision that not only threatens abortion access, but also undercuts the right to privacy that has led to the Supreme Court upholding cases protecting rights like gay marriage, is new. The reaction to that threat was pronounced in PredictIt’s balance of power market in contrast to the muted response to the latest mass shooting.
Prediction markets like these aren’t perfect. They’re only as reliable as the bettors who make predictions in these markets. These markets also can’t predict unpredictable events with major consequences, like which stories will go viral and touch different parts of the electorate or which outlier candidates could make surprise leaps to power. However, they can capture the way certain segments of the population think. It seems that PredictIt’s balance of power market has captured the bleak resignation that has come to characterize American responses to gun violence.