Archive for March, 2008

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It’s Seven Daves from ComRes

Monday, March 31st, 2008

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Con 38 (-3) Lab 31 (+1) Lib Dem 17 (n/c)

A poll out tonight by ComRes for the Independent shows a lead of seven points for the Conservatives, down by four since the previous poll. Fieldwork was 28-30 March and the unweighted base was 1004 respondents.

The Tories are down by three on 38 percent, Labour up by one to 31, and the Lib Dems are unchanged on 17 – it remains to be seen what impact Nick Clegg’s interview comments today will have on his party’s popularity.

The reduction in the Conservative lead since the last ComRes poll back into single figures will obviously cheer Labour – latest UK election prices are here.

Paul Maggs “Double Carpet”

Guest Editor



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Are Labour’s YouGov smears affecting the betting?

Monday, March 31st, 2008

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    Should you be capitalising on the lies about the 2004 polls?

The Labour spin machine has gone into overdrive today to try to discredit the latest YouGov poll that shows Ken Livingstone again facing a double digit polling deficit in his battle with Boris Johnson.

A statement by the party said: “…YouGov has a record of significantly underestimating Ken Livingstone’s vote in London. On the day before the last Mayoral election YouGov put put Ken Livingstone just two per cent ahead of the Conservative Steve Norris, leading to an Evening Standard headline of ‘It’s Neck and Neck’ even although Livingstone actually won by nearly 11 per cent.”

This is a fabrication by the party and should be dismissed. The facts are that on the day before the 2004 vote the Evening Standard carried a report of a YouGov survey which found that amongst all potential electors Livingstone was beating Norris by 37% to 26%. When the second preference votes were taken into account, YouGov found a split of 55% to 45%. The actual result after the second preferences were counted was Livingstone 55.4% to Norris’s 44.6% – which meant that YouGov was right to within 0.8%

These figures are directly comparable with the poll that is out today. YouGov has by far the best record of any pollster London in mayoral elections in spite of what Labour chooses to say. In 2004 the only other firm to carry out a surveys before the election, Populus, found a 58% to 42% split in Ken’s favour.

Given the polling the betting story of the day is the way Ken’s price has held up. Clearly there are a lot of punters out their who are gambling not to make money but to show their support for their allegiance – the technical betting term is “mugs”. My guess is that they are being fuelled by Labour’s lies.

The latest prices are Boris 0.45/1 and Ken 2.25/1.

Mike Smithson



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Boris with 10-point lead in new You Gov poll

Monday, March 31st, 2008

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Boris 47, Ken 37, Brian 10 – Boris leads 56-44 after second preferences

A new poll out today for the Evening Standard / ITV London Tonight shows Boris Johnson, who officially opened his campaign today, with a 10-point lead over Ken Livingstone, while the Lib Dems’ Brian Paddick trails on 10% of first preferences.

After re-allocating second preferences, this translates into a 12-point lead for Boris of 56-44, or a swing of about 11% from the performance of Steve Norris in 2004. Full details of the poll are here.

Latest prices are here – and Boris has already moved in four basis points to 1.43 now that a second poll has given him a big lead. With just over a month to go, Ken has it all to do.

Paul Maggs “Double Carpet”

Guest Editor



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Will May 1st resolve whether Toffs are electable?

Monday, March 31st, 2008

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    Could the City Hall outcome be a marker for Downing Street?

If London ITV is following its normal pattern then either today or tomorrow we should see a new opinion poll of voters in the capital on the London mayoralty. The organisation commissioned a YouGov survey at the end of every month since December and let us hope that it is following the normal pattern.

I took last week’s news, which wasn’t as far as I know denied, that Downing Street thought that Ken was going to be beaten as a sure sign that Labour’s private polling was confirming that Boris was ahead by a substantial margin – a fortnight ago YouGov had it at 12%.

So the evidence is mounting that the Tories will take City Hall in four and a half week’s time and certainly this is how punters are seeing it. The latest betting has Boris at 0.47/1.

    But the mayoral race is, after all, only a local election. The big question is whether it will tell us anything about the general election and whether, in particular, being a “Toff” is no longer an electoral liability.

Certainly conventional wisdom in the Tory party has been that going to Eton and Oxbridge, like Boris and Dave, could alienate voters and, indeed, this was said to be one of the main reasons in 1990 why Douglas Hurd’s leadership bid floundered.

This view has been shared by many in the Labour party – just look at the way it has sought to portray both Johnson and Cameron. Only a month ago at the party’s spring conference Boris coming from Eton and “being posh” were a key part of the anti-Johnson rhetoric. This might fire up the activists but if it is shown not to impact on elections then other lines of attack on Cameron will need to be emphasised.

In the general election betting I can see a Tory victory on May 1st prompting an even stronger move to the Tories – but a lot could happen in the next month.

Mike Smithson



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Team Obama claim victory in the second battle of Texas

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

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    The Illinois senator claims a nine delegate caucus lead?

One of the aspects of politics that I find absolutely intriguing is how the contenders and parties deal with the sheer mechanics.

Consider the challenge facing Team Hillary and Team Obama yesterday as they sought to manage the 88,000 people who were elected in the caucuses that followed the Texas primary on March 4th. This weekend they attend dozens of district and county conventions at which 7.298 of were be elected to take part in a three day state convention starting on June 5th. And at that event the final key vote will take place for the 67 delegates who will go on to the national and critical convention in Denver at the end of August.

    Sounds complicated? Yes – but at each of the three stages there’s the potential for the side with the best organisation to squeeze extra places.

Before yesterday the estimate was that the 67 would split 37 Obama to 30 to Clinton. Following the weekend’s ‘s events the Obama campaign claimed it was now 38 to 29 – a triumph for their organisation in what were quite chaotic proceedings.

Hillary had a four delegate lead in the March 4th primary so if the latest claim proves correct then Obama could take a net five delegate gain out of Texas. In fact there is the possibility that they could gain even more from the process at the state convention.

In the nomination betting Obama is now at 0.28/1.

Mike Smithson



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What the Sunday papers are saying

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

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Politics in the newspapers as Summer Time begins

The Sunday Times reports that a leaked Home Office memo shows that hundreds of illegal immigrants are working in care homes in the UK, while Brown has been condemned as “stilted and lacking personality” by one of his own Downing Street insiders.

According to The Mail on Sunday, Westminster insiders privately predict that the scale of the expenditure on refurbishing his residence could be the final straw for the beleaguered Speaker, following a leader in Saturday’s Daily Telegraph calling on Michael Martin to step down.

The election in Zimbabwe receives much coverage, with the MDC claiming to have won the poll, amid allegations of widespread vote-rigging, while closer to home, the Independent highlights the long-running investigation into Bertie Ahern’s finances that could bring him down, with his secretary breaking down in the tribunal witness box.

Finally, the Washington Post is reporting Hillary as saying she may challenge Obama all the way to the convention in August, which must surely delight Republicans. “I have no intention of stopping until we finish what we started and until we see what happens in the next 10 contests and until we resolve Florida and Michigan, … and if we don’t resolve it, we’ll resolve it at the convention.”

Guest Editor’s Note

As you know, I’ll be looking after PB while Mike takes a break in the Somme département, although hopefully he’ll be able to play more than a cameo role this week.

If anyone would like to submit an article on UK, US, or international politics, please drop me a line at electiongame@yahoo.co.uk – many thanks.

Paul Maggs “Double Carpet”

Guest Editor



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Ben Surtees previews Pennsylvania

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

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    What can we expect from the Keystone State?

For Barack Obama the last fortnight, since his failure to decisively see-off Hillary Clinton in Ohio and Texas, has been particularly bruising. The incendiary comments of his pastor Jeremiah Wright and the remarks of Geraldine Ferraro have thrust the issue of race back to the fore of the presidential campaign. Addressing the issue with his trademark eloquence and candour on Wednesday it is still unclear what (if anything) the Illinois Senator has been able to do to redefine an increasinglyand acrimonious campaign.

On April 22nd the Democratic race, after a six week hiatus, will head to Pennsylvania and the state’s presidential primary, where over 150 delegates are at stake, the largest allocation of any state yet to vote.

Pennsylvania is a diverse state, once colourfully described by James Carville as “Pittsburgh on the West, Philadelphia on the East and Alabama down the middle” and there is some truth to this. The state is dominated by the two large urban centres of Philadelphia, dominating the Delaware valley the south east and in the south west Pittsburgh, the historic centre of the American steel industry, while in-between is a wide rural region centred around the Susquehanna valley and shaped like a ‘T’.

Reflecting Carville’s characterization of the state the two urban centres have provided the Democrats’ traditional base in the state while the rural ‘T’ has been reliably Republicans.

The Democratic primary on April 22nd will differ from many of those earlier in the cycle by being restricted to registered Democrats only. This represents a particular disadvantage for Senator Obama who has done well with independents and republicans but has typically lagged behind Senator Clinton amongst register Democrats. Hillary Clinton also enjoys further advantages in the state, older, blue collar democrats, who have typically backed the New York Senator by wide margins over Obama, dominate the electorate while the state’s Democratic establishment is firmly supporting her campaign. Consequently, going into the Pennsylvania primary, Hillary Clinton enjoys massive structural, organisation and demographic advantages over Barack Obama.

That said, Obama still stands to pull off a strong showing in Pennsylvania, despite Senator Clinton’s obvious advantages. Despite the strong institutional support for Clinton, Philadelphia’s large black community is likely back Obama very strongly. Furthermore the prosperous Philadelphia suburbs could also provide a good base for Obama considering his appeal to affluent, liberal voters. The Obama campaign’s greatest challenge remains that the ‘closed’ nature of the primary disqualifies the moderate republicans and independents, upon whom much of Obama’s success has been built, from taking part. In an effort to address this, the Obama campaign has had an aggressive effort to register republicans and independents as Democrats before the deadline for such re-registration on March 25th.

Ultimately the nature of the Pennsylvania primary and the strength of the Clinton campaign in the state makes an Obama victory highly unlikely. Current the polls give Senator Clinton a commanding lead, however Obama’s past ‘form’ suggests that it would be unwise to write off his chances at narrowing the gap in the state. Perhaps most intriguingly, it will be over the next few days and weeks that we are able to properly assess the impact of the Wright controversy and Obama’s response to it. The extent to which it has seriously damaged the Illinois Senator’s candidacy or proven his resilience under pressure could, in large part, be measured by his performance in Pennsylvania in five weeks time.

Update: Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senator Bob Casey jr endorsed Obama on Friday (click on picture above to get the video), representing what is a potentially very significant boost for Obama in the state.

Casey is the son of popular, former Governor Bob Casey snr and commands an important base amongst the kind of blue-collar, culturally conservative Democrats with whom Obama has struggled in the past. On its own this endorsement doesn’t fundamentally alter the race in the state, but it gives Obama an important opening and a powerful surrogate (plus, yet another super delegate).

Ben Surtees was one of the first people to post here when the site was established in 2004.



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Off on holiday….

Friday, March 28th, 2008

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Just to say that my wife, Jacky, and I are off to France for a week – we’ll be stayig in an apartment in one of the houses above. Although I’ll be writing the odd article our stand-in editor, Paul Maggs will once again be in charge.

Tomorrow morning we have a guest article on Pennsylvania by Ben Surtees and there are one or two of my “prepared this one earlier” pieces which will be published.

Whether I am able to do more depends on two things: the weather and the extent to which my Vodafone modem will work across the channel.

Best wishes,

Mike Smithson