Elizabeth Warren drop to below 50% in the betting after the latest Democratic debate

October 16th, 2019

Betfair market tracked by Betdata.io

The big event in US politics overnight has been the latest Democratic TV debate and having now just caught up with it this was the best so far. It was great political TV and there has been some impact in the betting.

Favourite Warren has now slipped below a 50% chance after being on 54% within the past few days. Inevitably as front runner she was the focus of attacks by other contenders of who there was a total of 12. Such a number should have been unmanageable but it worked.

Warren’s achilles heel is that while she strongly advocates a universal healthcare plan she won’t explain where the money is coming from. The Oxford-educated Pete Buttiegeg did himself a power of good in attacking Warren on this point and made her position even less explicable.

Bernie was back in fine form after his heart attack last week. It seems to have done nothing impede his approach.

I thought Mayor Pete did himself the most good and he’s now clear third favourite in the betting. I agree with Robert’s thread earlier today about how he could pull off a shock result in Iowa on February 3rd coming perhaps in the top two.  He’s certainly the strongest contender under the age of 70.


Mike Smithson


As the Brexit negotiations reach a critical point the latest YouGov trackers has “Brexit wrong” with 5% lead

October 16th, 2019

The voting intentions in the same YouGov poll.

A GE constituency poll

Mike Smithson


Mayor Pete’s The One To Beat

October 16th, 2019

Iowa. Iowa. Iowa.

I keep repeating it, because it’s important. The winner (and potentially the runner up) in Iowa define the primary process. After Obama won Iowa in 2008, he saw his national polling pop more than twenty points. In a crowded a Democratic field in need of much culling, the winner’s pop could be even greater. (Simply: there are a lot of 2% candidates whose supporters will need to find new homes after they get null delegates in Iowa.)

And what’s going on in Iowa?

Well, in the last couple of days we’ve seen a couple of polls and they show one candidate surging. And that candidate’s not Elizabeth Warren.

First there was a YouGov poll last week (where the fieldwork started before Bernie’s heart attack) and that showed:

Biden 22% (-7%)
Warren 22% (+5%)
Sanders 21% (-5%)
Buttigieg 14% (+7%)

And then yesterday there was a Firehouse/Optimus poll:

Warren 25% (+2%)
Biden 22% (-1%)
Buttigieg 17% (+10%)
Sanders 5% (-6%)

The pattern from both this polls is the same: Warren and Buttigieg are on the rise while the old white men are in decline. If Sanders really is polling in single digits in a primary he won in 2016, then he will surely leave the race post Iowa.

Now, one of the curious things about Iowa is how it works. The 15% bar at the precinct level means that it is almost like an alternative vote system. Say you turn up to vote for Harris (and sit through prepared remarks and discussions for a couple of hours in a draughty church hall), but it’s clear that she won’t make the 15% mark, and your vote will be wasted… Well, then you look around for your second choice, and see if they’re well represented.

This is where organisation matters. This is retail politics at its finest. Successful candidates’ organisers cajole and persuade the newly undecided to join their groupings.

Three candidates, I would forecast, will leave Iowa with meaningful numbers of delegates: Warren, Biden and Buttigieg. The polling has Buttigieg as being very transfer friendly, which will benefit him. He also has by far the most built up ground organisation in Iowa (with Warren a little behind, and then Biden a long way behind). In many rural counties, there’s a Buttigieg office, and that’s it.

This means that Buttigieg will, I suspect outperform his poll ratings. And I suspect Biden will continue to fade. Sanders is out the race. He just doesn’t realise it yet.

So, what does that mean for Iowa? I think the delegates split something like:

Warren 40%
Buttigieg 40%
Biden 20%

(Yes, I know the numbers seem high relative to polling. That’s because most of the candidates will get zero delegates and those voters have to go somewhere.)

This means that the 15 on Buttigieg on Betfair to be the Democratic nominee is too skinny; ditto the 29 on 2020 President.

(PBers should know that I will be visiting Iowa for the first time next month. I will make sure I share my findings.)

Robert Smithson


As Johnson edges towards to the 11pm Brexit deadline the betting money’s still on a pre-Brexit general election

October 15th, 2019

Chart of Betfair movements from betdata.io

On a day when so much seems to be changing on a Brexit dale there has not been as much betting movement as you might have thought. Still the view is that Brexit’s not going to happen immediately and not before a new general election.

Tonight is just the first hurdle. If there is a draft deal that will have to be agreed by the EU27 at their meeting later in the week. And then if we have got that far Johnson will have to take it to the House of Commons at the special Saturday sitting.

From what is emerging Johnson appears to be ready to make huge concessions including having the Irish Sea as the border something that TMay turned down. I wonder if she will participate in Saturday’s debate.

Mike Smithson


“Honouring” the referendum should apply to not just to the outcome but what the official Leave campaign said

October 15th, 2019

Things are different now the country’s being led by Cummings/Johnson

Lots of talk at moment about “honouring the Referendum”. Fair enough.

Those who espouse that seem to look to the result itself rather than the promises and assertions made my the official Leave campaign in the run up to the June 23rd 2016 vote.

It was harder to make this argument when TMay was PM for she had not been responsible for what Vote Leave said.

Since Johnson became PM and recruited Cummings as his lead aide then there should be less excuse for not following the statements that the campaign was making. They should be accountable not just for their actions now but for all that Vote Leave said during the campaign. This is what they were responsible for and what helped voters to make up their minds.

So any deal needs to be judged against their assertions at the time.

Mike Smithson


With 16 days to go punters make it just a 22% chance that UK will leave the EU by the end of the month

October 15th, 2019

Chart of movements on the Betfair exchange from betdata.io

The big news for those betting on whether there will be an exit from the EU this month within the Article 50 deadline is that the market rates the chances of a deal this week as being less likely.

What we should read into that is hard to say. The EU has a long history of things going right to the wire and there must be just a possibility that something can be agreed. This has been going on for so long that many leaders just want it over.

Clearly Johnson has made concessions and that creates its own risks. You can see Nigel Farage attacking whatever comes out as being BINO – Brexit in Name Only.

The Independent is reporting that no agreement is possible before this week’s summit. Its report notes:

Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell, who is set to take over as the EU’s foreign affairs chief, meanwhile told reporters outside a meeting in Luxembourg that there might be a need to “stop the watch” and ask for more time.

“You know, in Europe, we always take decisions on the edge of the precipice, on the edge of the cliff,” he said. “Even when the last minute comes, then we stop the watch and say that we need technically more time to fulfil all the requirements, all the last minute requirements.

From the PM’s perspective he has to ensure that his “do or die” pledge to leave the EU on October 31 doesn’t damage him or his party if it proves not to be possible. Whether or not he was being foolhardy in using that rhetoric it certainly added to the sense of urgency which might give a benefit.

Domestically the real danger to the Brexiteers is the growing clamour for a confirmatory referendum which we’ve discussed in previous threads.

Mike Smithson


Today’s Top Tip for Remainers – if there’s a 2nd Referendum demand strict voter photo ID

October 14th, 2019

And driving licences by age

There’s a case for arguing that the section of the population who’d have most problems with proposed voter ID laws are the elderly who are much less likely to have a passport and/or a driving licence. Given that they were much more likely to vote Leave in june 2016 then you can argue that if the planned changes had been in place then we might have seen a different outcome.

There would likely be provision for those without the relevant voter ID to apply for some sort of document certifying their right to vote. But anything that adds to the complications of voting is surely likely to impact on turnout.

This is from the Electoral Reform Society report on the 2018 voter ID trials

Out of 45 million votes last year, there were just 28 allegations of ‘personation’ (only one was solid enough to result in conviction). And yet the government seems determined to pursue voter ID,a policy we now know could cost up to £20 million per general election. This change to how we vote is a marked departure from the trust-based British way of running elections, and with little evidence to justify it. It’s claimed that mandatory voter ID could boostfaith in the democratic process. Yet according to academic research, 99 percent of election staff do not think fraud has occurred in their polling stations…

If mandatory ID were to be rolled out nationally,it could potentially result in tens of thousands of voters being denied a say. And it would hit the already marginalised hardest: poorer C2DE social grade voters were half as likely to say they were aware of the ID requirements before the trials this May. And despite the costly publicity campaign this time, after election day,an average of around a quarter of residents were not aware of the pilots in four of the council areas – around four in 10 were not aware in Watford.

As we know the C2DE section of population were much more likely to back Leave.

Mike Smithson


Ladbrokes make it 6/4 that there’ll be another Brexit referendum before the end of next year

October 14th, 2019

And 4/1 that Remain would win

Given how difficult Johnson has had in winning votes in the House of Commons this morning’s Queen’s Speech had a touch a fantasy about it. His Government is in a minority and thanks to the Fixed-Term Parliament Act he is unable to call a general election to ameliorate the situation.

So having the monarch with all the ceremonial trappings listing the legislative plans was a bit it strange given there are simply not the CON MP numbers to get anything through. This is a programme that cannot be enacted and it was almost embarrassing that the Queen had to go along with the situation.

The big question now is whether we are heading for a new referendum on whatever deal eventually comes out of Brussels. Interestingly Corbyn loyalist and possible leadership contender, Rebecca Long-Bailey, was saying this morning that a referendum on the deal should come before a general election. That’s a good pointer to how her party could go.

Betfair have market up on which will come first – a second EU referendum or a new general election and the latter is the 1/3 odds on favourite. I have gone for the former at 3/1 which scenes an attractive price.

On the Ladbrokes betting I like the 4/1 on a Remain victory before the end of next year.

Mike Smithson