Archive for April, 2008

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“YouGov final poll: Boris by 6%” – PB EXCLUSIVE

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008


    Is Boris about to become the next Mayor?

I have just received information from a source who has proved totally reliable in the past about the YouGov poll that will be published in the Evening Standard tomorrow.

This is the final survey of the campaign and according to the information I have been given Boris is leading Ken 44%-36% on first preferences. After second preferences that becomes 53% to 47%.

The same source has given me advance information about other polls in this campaign which have proved to be accurate. If that had not been the case I would not have published this.

If this is authentic, which I think it is, then it has Ken in a slightly better position compared with last Monday’s poll which had the first preference gap at 11%.

The latest betting is here

Mike Smithson



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Is a turnout bet good insurance for Boris backers?

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008


    The 11/8 on more than 43% seems like value bet

As can probably be gathered from the content of recent posts I am quite long on Boris. My reading of the polls it that he stands a very good chance of winning on Friday and I’ve been betting accordingly.

The only circumstance I can foresee of him not making it is if there is a very high turnout. One senior Labour spinner told me yesterday that he thought Ken would romp home if it got to the 50% level. I think there is something in that.

So to part cover my Boris win bets I’ve been betting on a high turnout. You can get 11/8 with William Hill that it will be 43% or more which seems like good value.

Last time the turnout was just under 37% but that race was never really seen as being close and was certainly not getting the media attention that we have seen this time.

One factor that could impact on turnout levels are the registered voter numbers. Last night’s story about the high level of people who are not on the roll could actually boost the proportion – which will, of course, be the number of votes cast divided by the total number who are registered.

So if you are long on Boris give Billy Hill a call.

The joy of the position is that both bets could come up.

UPDATE: Ipsos-MORI have produced a fascinating presentation on the impact of turnout on the final result. Their main conclusion based on the data from their final poll is that 40% is the critical level. Below that it is Boris – above Ken.

Mike Smithson



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Will this help Ken get his vote out?

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

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    Will playing the victim card galvanise the activists?

Reproduced above is part of a press release issued this morning by Team Ken in what will probably be the last big move of the campaign. It consists of an attack on the planned YouGov poll that will be published tomorrow as well as the more detailed case of the complaint against the pollster that has been made to the Market Research Society.

The objectives appear to be to further smear YouGov, to discredit the latest polling, to further present Ken as the victim of a campaign by the Evening Standard – all this to reinforce the activists to work harder over the next 36 hours

This is about getting his core vote out – something that Ken and Labour have always found to be more challenging than the Tories.

The final messages on the final day of a campaign can have an impact and this one looks quite smart.

The complaint is about politics and not the science of polling. Every single phone poll that’s ever been held during London mayoral campaigns has massively over-estimated Ken’s vote we didn’t hear complaints from his team then. In 2004 even the online pollster YouGov, in its final poll in 2004, over-estimated Ken’s first preference lead.


Latest mayoral betting


Mike Smithson



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Will it be all change at Crewe on May 22nd?

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

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    Can Labour contain the damage with an ultra-short campaign?

To all those outside London who have been saying that we have been over-doing the Boris-Ken contest can I say three words – Crewe and Nantwich. For after the London result on Friday the main UK domestic story will be the by election in the Cheshire seat.

This site follows the key action and nothing else will happen in the coming months that will provide such a good test of opinion ahead of the general election.

    For given their high ratings in the polls and their likely successes tomorrow the scene should be set for something that we have not seen in UK politics since June 1982 – a Conservative gain in a Westminster by election.

The numbers look good for Cameron’s party – a solid second place last time some way ahead of the Lib Dems as well as a strongish base of councillors. Of course the Tories will desperately be trying to play down expectations but this really is one that they have to win – especially if it follows victory in the London Mayoral race.

In recent times by elections have tended to be dominated by local issues which has been the hallmark of the Lib Dem approach. If the Tories want to win they have to make it a referendum on Labour and Gordon Brown. You can see a campaign theme running along the lines of “Had Enough?”

The Lib Dems and Labour will be trying hard to pick holes in every aspect of the Tory approach to find something that gives them traction. Don’t write off Chris Rennard and the Lib Dem campaign team – they have the track record.

My guess is that the clash will generate much more media coverage than we have seen in by elections of late and that there will be a lot of betting.

Mike Smithson



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PB’s traffic hits new records

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

    Monday saw a massive 115,794 page down-loads

I’ve just got the traffic figures for the site for yesterday when there were 115,794 separate page downloads – only the second time we have broken through the 100k mark. The last time was that Saturday in October when Gordon called off the election.

Also April has already become the site’s busiest ever month even though there is still a day and a bit to go. Total page down-loads are 1,667,234 which exceeds the previous record of 1.54m last October.

A year ago our monthly traffic was about 600,000 page views and it took us until September to get beyond the 750k mark.

Thanks to my son Robert for creating the technical infrastructure that’s enable us to cope with the traffic. Thanks to you all for supporting the site.

No other UK political blog gets traffic like we do.

Mike Smithson



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What does this do to the poll figures?

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

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    “16% of those who think they are registered aren’t”

In its final Mayoral poll MORI agreed to a suggestion of mine and asked whether those interviewed were actually on the electoral register. They found that only 92% were.

Now a report from the Electoral Commission suggests that the proportion not on the register could be much higher than that. The pollster NOP was commissioned and it found that 16% of people who thought they were on the electoral roll were not.

But the non-registered situation is different in different areas of the capital. “..The study found that every Labour-run, inner-city borough had poor registration figures. In Hackney, 29 per cent of those questioned were eligible to vote but unregistered, in Haringey 24 per cent, Newham and Tower Hamlets 23 per cent, and Lambeth 25 per cent.”

On the basis of the Standard story and not the report itself you can only conclude that this is not good news for Ken. It could also distort the polls.

In the betting there’s been a big move to Boris during the afternoon. He is at 0.45/1 with Ken at 2.2/1.

Mike Smithson



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To me this is the number that clinches it

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

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    Unlike 2000 and 2004 Tory supporters are sticking with their candidate

Every Tuesday for the last month or so YouGov have published the detailed data of their latest London mayoral poll. This fleshes out what’s already been made public and provides more information that can be helpful in forming a view of the race.

And what I have looked first for is the number highlighted above – what proportion of those who identifying themselves as Tories are supporting Boris Johnson. This could be critical because he is not going to win if he is not retaining the Tory vote.

At the 2000 and 2004 mayoral elections there was strong evidence that significant numbers of Tories switched to Ken in the mayoral ballot. If there was a hint that that was happening this time then Johnson could be in trouble.

Well the figure above confirms that Johnson is retaining 87% of the Tory vote – a proportion that has hardly moved since the campaign started. He is also picking up one fifth of those who have at sometime told YouGov that the party they identify with most is Labour.

The Tory vote is significant because traditionally it is more likely to turn out out. In my view Johnson is going to do it and current odds seem very attractive.

  • Last night’s ICM “poll” story: Last night I published and then withdraw a story about what was said to be a new ICM poll on the London battle. This was based on a piece that appeared on the Daily Telegraph website here. The number were actually from a survey the pollster did for the Guardian four weeks ago. I’ve spoken to the firm this morning and they will NOT be carrying out another poll on the mayor.
  • Radio 5Live discussion on the polls: I will be on the Simon Mayo programme from about 1.40pm
  • In the betting the money has continued to go on Johnson who is now at 1/2.

    Mike Smithson



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    Will punters believe in a Tory majority after Thursday?

    Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

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      Massive poll leads yet still the nervousness

    In the past week and a bit we’ve had surveys from all five firms that do national general election polls and all have reported the same trend – a big shift to the Conservatives. The ComRes 14% lead was the last to come and overnight produced figures that would convert into a near Tory landslide at a general election.

    To recap these are the latest ratings from each of the firms:-

  • ComRes C40: L26: LD20
  • ICM C39: L29: LD20
  • YouGov C44: L26: LD17
  • MORI C40: L31: LD19
  • Populus C40: L30: LD19
  • Yet just look at the Commons seat spread betting markets above. Even with the polls all saying the same thing punters are still not convinced that we might be heading for a David Cameron majority at the next election.

    But could everything change after Thursday elections? Could a Tory win in London and big successes elsewhere transform the political mood? Could now be the moment to get your general election bets on?

    What strikes me is that we are in completely uncharted territory. It is now nearly thirty years since the Tories were last threatening to unseat a Labour government and we have no real reference points. In spite of the ratings nobody quite believes that a change of government is possible but could we be nearing the tipping point?

    One of the site’s regular contributors, Rod Crosby, always argues that changes of government have never happened without in the preceding years the main opposition party winning seats off the governing party in Westminster by elections. I think that’s right probably right although MPs appear younger and healthier these days and there have not been as many opportunities.

    But the next big development in domestic politics will be Labour’s defence of Crewe and Nantwich following the death of Gwyneth Dunwoody. We have not got a date yet but this contest provides the ideal platform for the Tories to capitalise on their likely progress this Thursday.

    So for those who play the spread betting commons seat markets now might be the moment to move. Could the price panel above be the last occasion when we see the Tory BUY level being lower than the threshold for an overall majority?

  • In the next day or so I’ll do an “Idiot’s Guide to Commons Seat Spread Betting” because I know that many would like to put their toes in the water but find it all confusing.
  • Mike Smithson