The Verdict is In: Our Audience is Smart

Just two weeks ago, many Americans were on the edge of their seats, waiting to see if the Supreme Court would overturn a major part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the King v. Burwell case.

Of course, the court upheld the ACA in late June, after weeks of drama and anxiety about the ruling.

But the people who attended a Colorado Health Institute panel discussion in March at the Denver Beer Company had no such doubts. 

CHI sponsored a contest to see if any audience members could guess the exact outcome of the case. Of the 26 who entered, every single one guessed that the court would uphold the ACA. 

What’s more, 17 people (two-thirds of our entrants) guessed the exact vote tally, down to how each justice would vote — Justices Roberts, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan in favor, with Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito in dissent.
The other nine entrants either predicted a 5-4 outcome or predicted that Alito, rather than Roberts, would rule in favor of the ACA.

That’s a remarkable bit of crowdsourcing. 

Maybe it was the expert panel at the CHI event that enabled our collective clairvoyance. We heard from insurance expert Leo Tokar, health care attorney Gerry Niederman and constitutional law professor Melissa Hart (who was named as a finalist for the state Supreme Court in June).

Or maybe we just run with a brainy crowd.

The grand prize — a Colorado Health Institute fleece jacket and a six-pack from Denver Beer Company — does not easily divide 17 ways, so we had to draw one winning entry. Congratulations to the winner, Annie Taylor, a program assistant at Caring for Colorado Foundation. 

The others who correctly predicted the 6-3 verdict were Ed Kahn, Sarah Barnes, Sarah Freeman, Ira Gorman, Edward Dauer, Bethany Pray, Art Davidson, Amber Burkhart, Ryan Biehle, Jim Sugden, Caitlin Westerson, Allie Broas, Sandeep Wadhwa and, from the Colorado Health Institute, Amy Downs, Jeff Bontrager and Joe Hanel.

Although Annie gets to wear the fleece, this was one contest where we can say with a straight face that everyone who entered was a winner.

Joe is Manager of Public Policy Outreach at CHI.