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Release: August 12, 1999


Reporters and editors looking for comments about the Iowa Straw Poll, Saturday, Aug. 14 in Ames may contact the following University of Iowa experts:

For political analysis of the straw poll as it happens, Arthur Miller, a UI political science professor and director of the Iowa Social Science Institute, will be available at the event and can be reached on a cellular telephone, (319) 430-7601. Prior to the event on Thursday and Friday, he can be reached at his office (319) 335-2328.

Miller, a veteran observer of the Iowa Straw Poll, is an expert on political opinion polling and has followed Iowa politics closely for more than a decade. Each election year since 1988 Miller and his colleagues at the Iowa Social Science Institute have conducted the Heartland Poll, a unique political opinion poll that gathers data from Iowans and residents of six surrounding states. In recent years the Poll has grown to include a national sample, giving Miller perspective on how Iowans' opinions compare with those of the rest of the country.

For commentary on potential outcomes of the Republican presidential nominations, contact Robert Forsythe, a UI professor of economics and senior associate dean in the Tippie College of Business. He can be reached on Saturday at (319) 337-5703. Forsythe is one of the UI business professors who oversees the Iowa Electronic Markets (IEM), which are web-based political futures markets at where traders can speculate about which candidate will win the Republican and Democratic nominations.

For an initial investment of as little as $5 or as much as $500, IEM traders buy contracts in the candidate of their choice at the prevailing market price. Winning contracts pay $1; losing contracts pay nothing.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush has held a commanding lead in the nomination market since it began June 14, with his shares currently selling for 75 cents, far ahead of the rest of the candidates whose shares are selling for less than 15 cents.

Started in 1988 at the UI Tippie College of Business, the IEM was developed as a way to teach students about commodities futures markets and permit detailed studies of how those markets operate. The IEM has forecasted election results with great accuracy, tracking the vote totals of winning candidates of the last two presidential elections within two-tenths of a percentage point.

IEM contacts also include: Tom Rietz, associate professor of finance, (319) 330-7425 (cell) or (319) 335-0856 (office); Joyce Berg, associate professor of accounting, (319) 335-0840 (office) or (319) 338-9233 (home); and Jeanine Pfuntner, the operations manager of the IEM, may be reached Thursday and Friday at (319) 335-0794.