Supporters of legalizing marijuana and raising Maine’s minimum wage have raised at least $5 million seeking to influence the election, with lots of money riding on the outcomes.
But there’s another group of people with a stake in how Maine voters decide the two questions: prediction traders. And they think both questions are set to pass.
Outcomes for both questions are trading at the website PredictIt, where traders buy shares in a particular Yes or No outcome, at prices ranging from 1 cent to 99 cents per share. When the event in question occurs, losing shares become worthless while winning shares cash out at $1 (more on how this works).
The price of those shares are designed to reflect the odds a buyer gives any outcome.
At 82 cents for a Yes share, for instance, Sunday traders believed there’s an 82 percent chance that Yes votes on Question 1, marijuana legalization would prevail. Sunday trading on Question 4, to raise the minimum wage to $12 by 2020, closed even higher, at 92 cents per share.
The latest polling on those questions, commissioned by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and done by The Survey Center of of the University of New Hampshire, showed 57 percent of likely voters supported Question 4, to raise the minimum wage. Question 1 faced a much tighter race, with 50 percent of likely voters in support, 41 percent opposed and 9 percent undecided.
That tighter race has draw more interest from prediction traders, who are also prognosticating on the outcome of marijuana legalization efforts in California, Arizona, Massachusetts and Nevada.
Traders Monday held about 5,658 shares in the outcome of Maine’s marijuana legalization effort and 3,081 shares of the minimum wage question.