Archive for the 'Betting' Category


William Hill makes it 7/1 that Cameron will step down this year

Saturday, February 13th, 2016


A good bet not?

William Hill say political punters have been backing David Cameron to stand down as Tory leader either this year or next, in anticipation of either a defeat or only narrow win in the EU Referendum, which has to take place before the end of 2017.

Hills currently offer 7/1 that Cameron will stand down this year, and 10/1 that he’ll go next. It is a 4/11 chance that the Referendum produces a ‘Stay’ result, 2/1 that ‘Leave’ wins.

In a comment that echoes what many on PB have been saying Hill’s spokesman Graham Sharpe said: “Punters have obviously noticed that the odds for Cameron to stand down are rather longer than for a ‘Leave’ vote in the Referendum and are gambling that defeat in the Referendum would mean he would feel obliged to resign sooner rather than later, as we already know he won’t be leading his Party into the next General Election”.

On the face of it this seems a good price but several hurdles have to be surmounted. The referendum has to take please during 2016; LEAVE has to win, Cameron has to resign in the wake of the defeat.

It is that last element that I’m not convinced of.

Mike Smithson


The hurdles Hillary has to surmount are getting higher

Saturday, February 13th, 2016


She might lose the nomination never mind the general election

Eugene Debs must be grinning in his grave. OK, Bernie Sanders isn’t quite the firebrand radical that Debs was a hundred years ago but the notion that there is a credible route for a self-declared socialist to the White House is one that only a few months ago would have been dismissed with derision. Not now. Two polls released yesterday give the Independent Senator for Vermont genuine cause for hope.

The next round in the Democratic nomination race is the Nevada caucus a week today. The first poll this year there was published yesterday by TargetPoint / Washington Free Beacon, and reported a 45-each tie with the rest undecided, from a 1200+ sample size. It’s entirely possible that he could achieve back-to-back wins. Indeed, but for his supporters being useless tossers, he’d be on for the hat-trick. That Sanders did well in Iowa and New Hampshire wasn’t too much of a surprise: Nate Silver rated them as two of the three most Sanders-friendly states (after Vermont itself). Nevada, by contrast, comes in twenty-seventh. If he’s competitive there, he should be running close nationally.

And he is running her close nationally. A Morning Consult poll yesterday had the gap down to 46-39. Apart from the sensational Quinnipiac poll a week ago that reported 44-42 to Hillary, that’s well down on the 12- to 19-point leads found in the rest of the polls this month.

If those were the figures on Super Tuesday, then Hillary would probably win most of the states up for grabs that day – states which ought to favour her anyway – giving her renewed momentum through the rest of a very busy month. But that’s assuming that nothing does change. If she loses Nevada then panic really will run through her camp.

She surely can’t lose South Carolina as well (if she did, she might as well pack up), so should go into Super Tuesday at worst 2-2 in states and ahead on elected delegates but the trend has been against her for months and she’s been unable to arrest that decline so far – how much further does it have to go? Sanders dined with Al Sharpton earlier this week in a not-very-subtle move towards winning more of the African-American vote. Given Sanders’ campaigning on inequality, you have to think that he has scope to reach out to a black community that traditional politics hasn’t done a great deal for. The endorsement of a higher-profile African-American figure than Sharpton would help no end too (not that he has Sharpton’s yet).

Of course, Sanders is not Hillary’s only problem. There are three other obstacles in her route to the White House: the FBI, the Republican, and a possible Bloomberg independent run.

Regarding the FBI and the e-mail investigation, unless something outrageous is found, I doubt it will come to anything. Even if there has been a technical breach of the law, there is always the possibility of a presidential pardon, should she end up the candidate (though I doubt Obama will intervene unless he feels compelled to).

The Republican will, inevitably, be more of a problem though once again she’s lucky to be facing such an unpopular field. Trump, and it probably will be him, has awful approval ratings with many demographics that Hillary could appeal to. Trump is also highly likely to be rude and quite possibly sexist to her at some point which could go down very badly, though it does depend on how he does it – a justified comeback against perceived Beltway inherited entitlement might equally score a bullseye.

Then there’s Bloomberg. He could well run against Sanders; he might run against a damaged Hillary. If he does, he hands the election to Trump, Cruz or whoever the Republicans put up. It’d be 1912 in reverse (yes, Bloomberg ran as a Republican last time but he’s a New York liberal; he’ll damage the Democrats more without having the national appeal to win himself). In the unlikely event that he won enough Electoral College votes to throw the election to the House – winning New York, say – then the Republican wins: the GOP has a majority in 33 state delegations at the moment to just 15 for the Democrats with two tied.

All of which makes Hillary’s odds of even money to win outright completely nuts. Trump at 9/2 and Cruz at 18/1 offer far better value. Sanders at 8/1 doesn’t particularly, given the risk of a Bloomberg intervention on top of needing to beat Hillary and the Republican, but his 7/2 for the nomination is more attractive. This election has got worse and worse so far for Hillary, and it’s only just started.

David Herdson

p.s. In my New Year article, I predicted that Leave would win the referendum after the EU failed to properly get to grips with any of the big issues facing it. I did wobble on that four weeks ago, when I thought Leave’s leaderless, fractured campaign would cost it, but given the resounding raspberry given to Cameron’s draft deal (which may yet get worse), the EU seems intent on doing Leave’s job for it. They can be backed at 9/4 with PaddyPower, though the 13/2 on Cameron standing down this year with SkyBet may be better value.


Sanders shows biggest weakness in the overnight Democratic Nominee debate: his age

Friday, February 12th, 2016

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After the massive disappointment for the Hillary campaign in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary it was back to a live TV debate overnight with the 74 year old victor in the primary, socialist Bernie Sanders.

In the aftermath of New Hampshire Andy Burnham (remember him?) Tweeted that he knew how Hillary felt that morning. The big difference is that the former LAB cabinet minister is no Clinton and attempting to compare with her made him look presumptuous and foolish.

The debate was a big event for Hillary and she needed a good performance to get her campaign back on track. I thought she did well. This was Taegan Goddard’s verdict on Political Wire:

“Hillary Clinton easily won the debate. She was confident, knew the issues and didn’t let Sanders rattle her. The New York Times reported she had media training this week and it showed.

In contrast, Sanders seemed tired, rarely smiled and was best when he was angry. He’s still great at framing the key issues of the campaign. But his phrasing is so similar in every debate that he may soon be accused of having a Marco Rubio robot problem.”

On Betfair Clinton is still evens favourite to become next President.

I think that the biggest threat to her is not Sanders or Trump but Bloomberg. If he does launch a 3rd party effort that could hurt the Clinton campaign most.

Mike Smithson


The Doctors dispute: Betting opens on whether Hunt will survive

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Andrew Marr interviews Jeremy Hunt on The Andrew Marr Show   YouTube

As the Junior Doctor furore continues, bookmakers William Hill have opened a market on whether Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt will still be in his role on January 1, 2017.

He is odds-on to survive in the job and the bookie quotes odds of 8/11 that he is still in post on Jan 1, 2017. It is evens that he will leave the position before that date.

The polling suggests that Hunt is finding it hard to take public opinion with him.

William Hill also offer 28/1 that Jeremy Hunt will be the next elected leader of the Conservative Party.

Remember to watch the PB/Polling Matters TV Show

Mike Smithson


The GOP nomination race is effectively now down to just 5

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016


Iowa and New Hampshire have slimmed the GOP field down

What a night and what an outcome. The contender who was deemed to have “won” the last debate, Chris Christie failed to make an impact in NH and returned to New Jersey to consider his position.

Given that Christie’s final act had been his debate destruction of Rubio only a few days ago it seemed that others benefited from him taking down the one who became favourite after Iowa. Maybe on reflection Christie should have used his powerful destructive tools to attack Trump. He didn’t.

This trims the field down to five with the previous long term favourite, Jeb Bush, still there and seeing a fair amount of betting on him. Before the Trump surge he was an odds on favourite and seemed to be the one who suffered most by the entry of the property billionaire turned TV star into the race.

Kasich’s strong showing overnight keeps him in the race and so the battle is now between the five of them.

Mike Smithson


Guess who? Looking for Jeremy Corbyn’s successor

Monday, February 8th, 2016

LAB Poster (1)

Alastair Meeks on his 200/1 tip to be next Labour leader.

Pitt the Elder did not lack confidence, declaring to the Duke of Devonshire: “My Lord, I am sure I can save this country, and no one else can.”  Is there anyone who can save Labour?  It’s a good question and it’s not at all clear that there’s an answer.  The Labour party is being torn apart by a profound schism between the purist left membership and the much more centrist Parliamentary party.  Jeremy Corbyn retains the confidence of the membership and is seeking to move the power base of the party from the shadow Cabinet and Parliamentary party to the membership.  Talk of insurrection is in the air among dissident MPs, though no one has yet publicly suggested a viable mechanism for dethroning a leader elected by a landslide less than six months ago.

There are essentially three possible ways in which the Labour party leadership might be resolved.  First, Jeremy Corbyn may cement his hold on power (possibly after an unsuccessful challenge).  Secondly, his party opponents might successfully oust him.  Thirdly, he might be replaced by consent (possibly with some degree of coercion of some of the interested parties) by a unity candidate.

Both the first and the second possibilities would almost inevitably lead to further seismic upheaval within the Labour party.  The Parliamentary party is not going to become reconciled to Jeremy Corbyn and the membership are not going to accept a betrayal by the Parliamentary party.  Both of those options look utterly disastrous for Labour in the short to medium term.

This is recognised all round, so pressure will build for a suitable unity candidate.  Such a candidate would need to be someone who the grassroots respect as one of their own and who the Parliamentary party respect as being in touch with the political realities of persuading the electorate.  By definition, such a person would need to be a recognised public figure with a track record at the highest levels of the party.  They would need to be seen as a heavyweight and they would need to be willing to undertake the job.

The obvious starting point is to look at those current Labour MPs who have served in the Cabinet.  Labour only left office six years ago, so that should give a substantial pool, right?  Wrong.  By my count, there are only 12 current MPs who served as full Cabinet ministers in a Labour government: Margaret Beckett, Hilary Benn, Ben Bradshaw, Nick Brown, Andy Burnham, Liam Byrne, Yvette Cooper, Harriet Harman, Alan Johnson, Ed Miliband, Andrew Smith and Stephen Timms.

Stop and consider that for a minute.  Labour still has well over 200 MPs, many of fairly long standing.  But those who achieved the most in the last government have by and large deserted the field.  No wonder Labour is in so much trouble; it has suffered a serious brain drain.

So who among these contenders might be a suitable unity candidate?  Ben Bradshaw, Nick Brown, Andrew Smith and Stephen Timms, excellent though they all are, simply do not have the profile for this role.  Hilary Benn is completely unacceptable to the membership as a unity candidate.  Harriet Harman’s failure to oppose tax credit cuts probably makes her unacceptable too.  Liam Byrne forever ruled himself out with six words in a letter: “I’m afraid there is no money”.

Margaret Beckett would actually be an excellent choice of unity candidate on many grounds – she is a former deputy leader, has already been acting leader and nominated Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership last year.  If the aim was to remain in contention rather than to win, she could fulfil the same function that Michael Howard managed in 2005 for the Conservatives.  But I discount her on the ground of age – she would be 77 by the time of the 2020 election.  At the risk of sounding ageist, that is surely just too old for the role now.

That leaves four MPs with Cabinet level experience: Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Alan Johnson and Ed Miliband.  Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper stood against Jeremy Corbyn and lost crushingly.  While both are conceivable unity candidates, particularly Andy Burnham who has served in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow Cabinet, the fact of their crushing defeat probably rules them out.

So you can see why Alan Johnson’s name keeps coming up as a unity candidate whenever the Labour party lacks confidence in its leader.  But he keeps declining the opportunity no matter how hard he has been pressed to make a move.  He did not move against Gordon Brown and he did not move against Ed Miliband.  That’s not the track record of a man who is hungry for the role.  He’s probably also a bit too rightwing to satisfy the Labour party membership, who are going to be very suspicious of anyone who takes over from Jeremy Corbyn.

Which leaves Ed Miliband.  Well, why not?  He’s led the party so he knows what’s involved.  He managed to keep it united and was inclusive.  The membership respect him even if he is a little rightwing for their tastes.  The MPs know he understands electoral realities.  Alright, he lost the last election but given how things have gone since then Labour can’t afford to be too picky.  When he stood down, Labour were looking to find someone who could lead them back towards government.  Right now they need someone that’s going to hold them all together.  Ed Miliband has shown that he can do that job.  He’s probably their best choice to do it again now.

Would he even want the job again?  Probably not, but sometimes needs must.  I was allowed £2 by SkyBet at 200/1 to back him as next Labour leader.  That’s £2 I’ll probably never see again, but if Labour is to unite around a consensus candidate of stature, the options are very limited indeed.

Alastair Meeks


Rubio slips back on Betfair following what’s described as “robotic” NH debate performance

Sunday, February 7th, 2016


The Twitter verdicts of leading pundits

After his surprisingly close 3rd place in Iowa all the narrative in the GOP Race has been about the young Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

The polls since have been have been good and he was widely being tipped as the one who could stop Trump. That was before the final TV debate that ended a few hours ago in New Hampshire.

The Tweets above from leading commentators speak for themselves. It was alaways likely that Rubio would be the one who’d take the most flack and he flunked it.

So who will benefit? In New Hampshire that looks like be Trump and possibly Kasich who has been polling reasonably well in the state.

This ain’t over till it’s over.

Mike Smithson


We can’t assume that the Donald is out of it yet

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

The US pollster Public Policy Polling has a welcome practice of sending out Tweets like the one above to indicate significant trends in surveys some time before the poll is actually published.

The latest does indicate that the huge momentum that Donald Trump had built up ahead of Iowa has been impeded by the outcome in the first state to decide. That refers to a national survey not a state poll and in the five month process to select a nominee it is the latter that matter most.

We do know that Trump had built up overwhelming leads in New Hampshire which, of course, votes next Tuesday. What we need to see are some post-Iowa New Hampshire surveys before we can start to draw conclusions.

There’s a lot of experience from previous White House races that what happens in Iowa can have very little impact on New Hampshire. Remember Hillary Clinton’s comeback in NH in 2008 after Obama’s Iowa caucus victory. He looked as though he was sweeping all before him and then Hillary defied all the polls and took New Hampshire.

If Trump has a good New Hampshire primary then it’s game on again for the property billionaire turned TV star.

Mike Smithson