Category: Politics

Dem candidate beats former Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler in tight senate race

Kelly Loeffler has lost the Georgia runoff election to Democratic challenger Raphael Warnock.

Senator Kelly Loeffler, formerly the CEO of Bitcoin (BTC) futures exchange Bakkt, will not be returning to Washington, at least not as a legislator. 

According to AP News on Jan. 6, Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock has won one of the tightly contested runoff elections in the Southern state of Georgia. 

The runoff elections have been closely watched in the United States, as they will determine which party controls a majority in the Senate, which will set the timbre for President-elect Biden's legislative approach when he assumes office on Jan. 20. 

The race is still too close to call between Republican David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff. 

The runoff elections were necessary after no candidate received the necessary portion of votes to win in the regularly scheduled elections in November. 

While AP and The Guardian have called the race for Warnock, Loeffler seems to be modeling President Donald Trump's approach to losing an election.

Loeffler entered the crypto industry in 2018 when she became the CEO of Bakkt, the digital assets platform launched by Intercontinental Exchange. In December 2019, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp appointed the Bakkt CEO to a seat in the U.S. Senate to replace Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson.

While her term in the Senate was short-lived, Loeffler made headlines after she and two other Senators sold off hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stock on information allegedly obtained in closed-door meetings about the coronavirus. 

Loeffler and her husband were accused of dumping stock in retail companies and subsequently buying shares in teleworking software firm Citrix Systems ahead of the coronavirus-driven lockdowns.

The senator denied allegations of insider trading and a subsequent investigation by the U.S. Justice Department did not find any wrongdoing.

At the time, a Loeffler spokesperson said, “Today’s clear exoneration by the Department of Justice affirms what Senator Loeffler has said all along—she did nothing wrong.” 

Loeffler even announced that she and her husband would liquidate their holdings, in order to better focus on tackling the coronavirus crisis. 

Despite the investigation's result, the trading debacle became a subject of campaign ads from both sides during the recent election. 

Vitalik Buterin ventures three reasons why prediction markets are pro-Trump

Buterin asks whether crypto prediction markets reflect the wisdom of the crowd or are skewed by illiquidity and the political bias of their social base.

On the eve of the United States presidential election, most mainstream polls are pointing to a highly likely Joe Biden victory, though this isn’t reflected in crypto prediction markets.

For Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, the “big difference” between them presents something of a puzzle, and he’s offered three guesses as to why such a disparity has emerged.

In what he posed as a pro-prediction market or favorable view, Buterin suggested that these markets “correctly incorporate the possibility of heightened election meddling, voter suppression, etc. affecting the outcome.” In contrast, statistical models perhaps “just assume the voting process is fair.”

To check this, Buterin appealed to Nate Silver in a bid to understand how statistical models account for the impact of both “regular” electoral irregularities such as voter suppression and lawfare, and the “irregular” irregularities that some have been extrapolating from Trump’s 2020 campaign rhetoric.

Silver is a statistician as well as the founder and editor in chief of the statistics-driven political news site FiveThirtyEight. In 2016, FiveThirtyEight gave Trump significantly higher odds of winning the election than the majority of pollsters and pundits, as well as traditional betting markets. As of press time, Silver has not responded to Buterin’s query.

Buterin’s second guess was that prediction markets are still too illiquid to be truly accurate. Buterin also noted the presumed political allegiances of prediction market participants:

2. Prediction markets are difficult to access for statistical/politics experts, they're too small for hedge funds to hire those experts, and the people (esp wealthy people) with the most access to PMs are more optimistic about Trump

(This is the pro-stats-model explanation)

— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) November 3, 2020

Buterin’s third hypothesis, which he dismissed, was that pollsters and other technocrats and analysts are “incorrigibly dumb and just haven’t learned their lessons around detecting surprise pro-Trump voters as happened in 2016.” This, Buterin wrote, “intuitively just feels unlikely to me.”

Buterin, notably, has spent significant time developing an alternative, collective decision-making procedure called quadratic voting, together with his collaborator Glen Weyl, which they claim would be more equitable than existing systems. 

On the eve of the election, FiveThirtyEight is forecasting a 10% chance of a Trump win. Their list of “weird and not-so-weird possibilities” largely accounts for the vagaries of the U.S. electoral college system, and the various ways in which it skews the weight of the popular vote.

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