We know they're bad for you ...

When you've read everything there possibily is to read about the campaign, and you're still hungry for a snack, it's time for find out what the futures markets are saying about who's most likely to win the race for the White House. Their record of predicting the future isn't very compelling, as BusinessWeek Online's Karyn McCormack explains. But like the strangely colored snacks in the vending machine, they can be hard to resist.

The futures markets still suggest that President Bush will be re-elected. "The chances of a Bush win have narrowed sharply since the first debate but have widened back out from their narrowest post debate levels," according to Action Economics, which offers analysis to bond and currency traders. The Web site, which requires registration, says the Iowa Electronic Markets and Ladbrokes, the British betting house, both predict a Bush win. And in a presumably more careful analysis, a group of non-partisan political scientists comes to a similar conclusion. It says Bush will win more than 53% of the popular vote, although given the nature of the electoral college, that's not the same thing as calling the winner of the election.

That's in sharp contrast to opinion and tracking polls in the U.S., which show that the race is a dead heat. "It's tight as a tick. I wouldn't bet five cents on either man right now," says Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. He says the polls have told us all they can: the race is volatile, and it's close.