Archive for September, 2008

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Is it worth a punt on the Tories getting their poll lead back?

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Does a 16%-20% margin seem like a value bet?

The Irish bookmaker PaddyPower has put up a range of markets linked to David Cameron’s big conference speech tomorrow – the most interesting being the one featured in the panel above – what polling lead will the Tories have in the first post-big speech survey?

After some consultation with me this will be settled on the basis of the party shares in the first YouGov poll where the fieldwork starts after the big event. I assume that we’ll see a survey either in the Telegraph, the Sunday Times or one of the other media outlets.

    I’ve long argued that whatever the fundamentals of public opinion there’s always an element in polls which is based on which party has been in the news most. Thus the Lib Dems got quite a boost a fortnight ago; Labour have done well since their conference; and now we have the Tories.

This is because of the special regime that the broadcaster operate under at this time in the political year – extra coverage is given to each party in turn particularly for the leader’s’ main speeches.

This year, of course, the Tories are having to compete with the global financial crisis and I’m sure that it was with an eye on the media coverage that was one of the reasons for David Cameron’s special speech this morning. Certainly the the Tory front bench seem to be going out of their way to look statesmanlike without a smile between them.

In the YouGov poll taken immediately after the Lib Dem conference but before Labour the main split was C44-L24-LD20. Last week’s survey that started straight after Brown had sat down returned figures of C41-L31-LD16.

My guess is that the 16%-20% segment looks best and I’ll be having a small bet.

There are a pile of other Cameron-speech markets here.

Mike Smithson



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How dangerous is the crisis for the Tories?

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Could it be a game-changer for Labour?

There was an emergency statement by David Cameron at the Tory conference this morning in which he sought to look statesmanlike and ensure that his party cannot be portrayed by Labour as opponents of tighter regulation.

It will also mean that he gets onto the bulletins during what will be a highly charged day.

The key point was an an announcement that the party would be withdrawing its objection to aspects of a bill before the house at the moment in an effort to get it onto the statute books quickly.

The political challenge is that the crisis presents a platform on which Brown can perform and where, in the public’s eyes, he has credibility. Cameron was careful not to go against the grain of that perception which I think was a key motive for the move.

Whatever the spread markets on the number of seats the parties will get at the next election have not responded in the manner you would expect to the recent polling developments. In fact in the past 24 hours Sporting Index has upped the Tory level by two seats at the expense of Labour.

Mike Smithson



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Could a bail-out deal turn the race round?

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008



Would an ending of the crisis put McCain back in contention?

So it’s another day and for Barack Obama and John McCain there are just five weeks more left before Americans vote to decide the next occupant of the White House.

The chart, based on the judgement of punters on the Betfair betting exchange says it all. Two weeks ago McCain’s chances of success based on his betting price were put at 45%. This morning they are about 28% – which is quite a drop.

However you look at it, by the polls or the betting prices, time is fast running out for the 72 year old senator from Arizona. Economics and business matters have never been his strong point and it’s his bad luck that a crisis on an unprecedented scale should have happened in this most crucial period.

    But what if a deal is done when Congress resumes on Thursday? What if there’s a big bounce back on the markets? What if something else comes to dominate the campaign agenda? Could McCain still be in with a shout? Could his current price of 5/2 start to look like a bargain?

For the consequences of a global collapse are so dire that it’s hard to envisage the dissenting Republican congressmen continuing to hold out against voting for a solution, however unpalatable it might be to them. My guess is that they’ve gone to the brink and will return later in the week to support a re-packaged set of proposals.

And if that happens, and the markets soar once again that might just be the moment for McCain.

It’s going to be a nail-biting week and nail-biting month.

Live White House Betting Prices.

Mike Smithson



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Will Labour be disappointed with this?

Monday, September 29th, 2008

What do we make of no conference bounce?

…..meanwhile, away from the news from Washington, the September ComRes poll for the Independent is just out on the firm’s web-site and the figures are featured above.

When it is published in the paper in morning it will show comparisons with the newspaper’s August survey – not the last poll from the firm that was completed just before Labour’s gathering in Manchester. That’s a pity because the only comparisons that really matter are with the previous survey from the same firm.

Fieldwork for the last poll took place immediately after the Lib Dem conference and just before the start of the Labour’s gathering in Manchester. That showed a big boost for the Lib Dems mostly at the expense of the Tories.

Well tonight’s new poll sees most of that Lib Dem increase disappearing with both the Tories and Labour up two points each.

Given the massive and mostly favourable coverage that Labour, and Brown, got last week I think tonight’s numbers will come as a disappointment. Fieldwork started on Friday and continued until Sunday.

All this adds to what I’ve been saying for weeks – the conference season produces distortions and we need to wait until end October before getting a more stable picture.

Mike Smithson



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Is Gord’s conference bounce being sustained?

Monday, September 29th, 2008

What will the latest ComRes poll have in store?

I’ve just been told that there’s a new ComRes national voting intention poll which will be published tonight. The last survey from the pollster, taken straight after the Lib Dem conference but before Labour’s gathering started, had the worst figures for the Tories in months.

The totals then were CON 39%: LAB 27%: LD 21%.

If ComRes have followed their normal pattern then fieldwork would have started on Friday and continued until yesterday – a period which was largely dominated by the world financial crisis and the Gordon Brown’s visit to the US.

Mike Smithson



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So has Osborne recovered the initiative for the Tories?

Monday, September 29th, 2008


Click panel to view BBC news clip

What do we think of the council tax plan?

After last year’s dramatic Monday at the Tory conference when George Osborne’s inheritance tax plan helped turned the political narrative on its head there was a degree of expectation when he got up to speak this morning.

Alas the conference is being over-shadowed by the dramatic developments in the financial world and whatever Osborne said it was going to get nothing like the attention of last year.

But from a straight political standpoint the council tax pledge is smart. It’s simple to understand and it deals with a tax that can really grate with voters. His means of funding it sounded plausible and popular – cutting back on government advertising and consultants. The big question is whether this well help his party get the initiative back.

For the Kelly resignation and the Gord gang stories aside Labour has had a pretty good week and a half and there is now a sense that a Tory landslide, which seemed to be almost inevitable, might not now be such a certainty.

One of the problems for the Gord Gang is what they do about the council tax move. Any sense that the are “nicking” the idea could, as we saw last year with IHT, be counter productive.

The post-conference polling is going to be really interesting.

Live general election betting odds.

Mike Smithson



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Could sacking Palin be McCain’s next gamble?

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Would the global financial collapse be the peg to hang it on?

As the chart below shows there’s been a dramatic change in the fortunes of John McCain over the past fortnight. From a position where he was heading towards evens his declining opinion poll ratings have meant that he’s now moved out to more than 2/1 on Betfair.

A growing concern must be the performance of his VP pick, Sarah Palin. While the world was distracted by the financial collapse last week Palin did a CBC interview which was totally awful raising serious questions over her being “one heart-beat away” from being president.

This is from an article on Politico: “..Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, a former Palin supporter, says the vice presidential nominee should step aside. Kathryn Jean Lopez, writing for the conservative National Review, says ‘that’s not a crazy suggestion and that ‘something’s gotta change’…Tony Fabrizio, a GOP strategist, says Palin’s recent CBS appearance isn’t disqualifying but is certainly alarming. ‘You can’t continue to have interviews like that and not take on water’. ..’I have not been blown away by the interviews from her, but at the same time, I haven’t come away from them thinking she doesn’t know s—t,’ said Chris Lacivita, a GOP strategist. ‘But she ain’t Dick Cheney, nor Joe Biden and definitely not Hillary Clinton.’

So what can be done? McCain is known as gambler – just look at his actions last week over the bail-out plan and his threat at one stage to not show up at the first Presidential Debate. Could ditching Palin be his next and if so by whom?

You can get about 12/1 on Intrade on Palin being kicked off the ticket but there are few market possibilities in the UK – the only real option being the “Next Vice-President” betting exchange market from Betfair.

Before writing this piece I had a wild idea based on nothing more than hunch. What about Michael Bloomberg the Mayor of New York? He certainly would bring that vital financial and economic expertise that could publicly strengthen the ticket. I got £2 at 1000/1.

Bloomberg replacing Palin as the VP nominee could be dressed up as McCain responding rapidly to the changing economic situation. We’ll see.

BETTING UPDATE: Ladbrokes have just put up a market - “Sarah Palin to be replaced as Republican Vice President pick before November 4th 2008″ – odds of 16/1. That could be worth a punt.

Mike Smithson



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Austria 2008 – live election results

Sunday, September 28th, 2008


Molterer (ÖVP), Van der Bellen (Greens), Strache (FPÖ), Haider (BZÖ), Faymann (SPÖ)

Will the far-right surge result in another Grand Coalition?

Welcome to live coverage on PB of the 2008 Austrian election results. The snap election was called after the Grand Coalition collapsed after only 18 months in office. More background is available here from the earlier PB article and here from Wikipedia.

Early indications are that there has been a surge in support for the two far-right parties, the Freedom Party and Haider’s BZÖ, and the “big two”, the Social Democrats (SPÖ) and People’s Party (ÖVP), look set for their lowest combined share since the war at under 60% – the far-right combined vote may approach 30%.

There will be a flood of results at 4pm UK time as most of Austria closes polls in the early afternoon or before, and all results should be in by 7-7.30 our time. We may well be in for weeks, possibly months of coalition negotiations thereafter as the shape of the new government is hammered out.

    UPDATE
    Preliminary nationwide results (postal votes still to be counted)

    SPÖ 29.7% (-5.6) 58 seats
    ÖVP 25.6% (-8.7) 50 seats
    FPÖ 18.0% (+7.0) 35 seats
    BZÖ 11.0% (+6.9) 21 seats
    Greens 9.8% (-1.2) 19 seats

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