Last summer I spent some time interviewing day traders on the Iowa Electronic Markets, a political prediction market run by the University of Iowa whose track record in predicting presidential winners easily out-trumps traditional polls (sorry Gallup...). The story just appeared in the October issue of the Iowa Alumni Magazine.
In other words, if you want to check the real pulse of the election, check out the current IEM market standings here. It is a winner-takes all market, with each share measuring a fraction of a dollar. When I wrote the story Barack Obama was trading at 57 cents a share to McCain's 43 cents. Obama is now (today, October 3) at 74 cents to McCain's 26, meaning traders think he has a 74% chance of winning the election.