The Only Analysis of the Pennsylvania Senate Debate That You Need To Read

Last night the major party candidates for Senate in Pennsylvania had their first and only debate. I didn’t watch it, since I don’t live in Pennsylvania. But judging by my Twitter feed, a lot of people did watch it, including (bizarrely to me) lots of people who don’t live in Pennsylvania. And overnight, tons of articles were written analyzing the debate, saying who “won” the debate, and so on (“5 Things You Need to Know About the Pennsylvania Senate Debate” etc.).

But this blog post is the only thing you need to read about that debate. And these charts are really all you need to look at.

These two charts come from the prediction market website PredictIt. The charts show the “odds” (more on that below) that each candidate will win the Pennsylvania Senate race, over a 90-day time horizon (first chart) and the last 24 hours (second chart). What do we see? The Democratic candidate has been leading for the entire race up until a week ago, though with his odds falling gradually over the past month or two.

Notice though the big jump last night during the debate. The Republican candidate moved up from odds of about 57% to odds of about 63%, close to where it stands as I write (67%). Based on this result, it’s safe to say that the Republican candidate “won” the debate, though not so decisively that the election is now a foregone conclusion. You don’t need to wait for the polls, which have consistently showed the Democratic candidate in the lead (though with the gap closing in recent weeks) — though of course, these betting odds could change as new polling data is released.

But where do these odds come from?

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Fed Dot Plot vs Markets

After their last meeting in March, the Federal Open Market Committee released the summary of economic projections. Most of the variables they project are inherently difficult to predict: GDP, unemployment, inflation. But their forecasts of the Federal Funds rate should be pretty good, since they’re the ones that get to pick what it will be. The median FOMC member thinks the the Federal Funds rate will be just under 2% by the end of 2022.

I said in my last post that the Fed is under-reacting to inflation. Markets seem to agree, but they also think that the Fed will change. Kalshi runs prediction markets on what the Fed Funds rate will be, which they recently started to summarize using this nice curve:

So traders think that the Fed will raise rates faster than the Fed thinks they will, with rates getting to 2.5% by year end. Traders at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange see an even bigger change, with rates at 2.75% by year end, and 3.5% by July 2023 (the longest-term market they offer).

I lean toward the markets on this one; if they are wrong there is plenty of money to be made by betting so.