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The Iowa Caucuses, dark horses and the mystery of crowds

With less than 24 hours to go before the Iowa Caucuses, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) are are well positioned to finish first and second in the first voter test of the Republican field. That’s not just the consensus of pundits and armchair politicians — that’s the current outcome predicted by the Iowa Electronic Markets, perhaps the most avidly watched prediction market during any U.S. presidential election. Real traders with real money on the line, at the writing of this blog post, were giving Romney roughly an 86 percent probability, and Ron Paul around a 70 percent probability, of finishing in the top two when all the final results have been tallied by midnight.

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