This morning, some anonymous person apparently attempted to inflate Romney's stock on InTrade
. They apparently spent about $18,000 in a matter of minutes, and temporarily boosted Romney's numbers from about 40% to about 48%.
Mostly, that's a way to lose money fast. When people realized what was happening, investors swooped in and bought up the other side of the bets, driving Romney back down nearly to where he had been before the intervention started:
The same thing happened in 2008 -- someone suddenly poured money into InTrade's betting market to boost John McCain's numbers. That one, too, didn't last very long.
Which raises the interesting question of why try to manipulate InTrade this way if it means spending lots of money for only a very transient effect?
But I suppose when a candidate has enough super-wealthy donors spending money on their behalf, somebody's going to decide that it's worth losing a few thousand dollars for the chance of possibly swaying the media narrative about the race.
The smarter way to do this would be for Mr Romney-Loving Rich Guy to just quietly spend $700 or $800 a day buying up Romney shares on InTrade, day in and day out for a few weeks. That would be harder to detect, and more likely to last, as various positive feedbacks would have time to kick in.