Archive for the 'Betting' Category


The very idea of President Sanders – seriously?

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016


Can he beat Clinton and if so, the Republican?

In contrast to all the interest that the Republicans have delivered in their pre-primary contest, the Democrats’ affair has been a low-key, staid affair so far: two candidates plus an also-ran, of which one has been an overwhelming favourite for a long time, backed with huge financial and political muscle; the other, a 74-year-old self-described socialist who has never even run for election as a Democrat before. It ought to be no contest.

And yet Bernie Sanders, Independent Senator for Vermont, stands ready to shake up the race dramatically. This time last year, he was polling about 4% in the national polls for the nomination, against Hillary’s 60%; now he trails by around 52-36. That’s still a big gap little more than a week from the first caucus but it’s coming within range.

More significantly, the polls for that Iowa caucus put Sanders and Hillary almost neck-and-neck. Of the nine polls this year, six have given Clinton a lead and three Sanders. His position in the New Hampshire is stronger still, with leads in each of the last seven polls ranging from a tight 3% to a stonking 27%. That latter one does look like an outlier but even if it is, Sanders almost certainly holds a real, and perhaps comfortable lead.

Hillary’s supporters might well that that’s all very well but the nomination will not be sown up in Iowa and New Hampshire. Important though they might be, there are few delegates that come from them and there are another 48 states plus assorted other territories that send delegates, and in the country at large she’s doing well enough, thank you. Take the third state, South Carolina, for example. Sanders hasn’t come within 2:1 of Hillary there.

To make that case for Clinton ignores three points. Firstly, South Carolina hasn’t been polled since mid-December. While she is almost certainly still ahead, there’s little reason to assume that Sanders hasn’t had the same momentum there he’s had everywhere else and it may well now be closer than the last numbers suggest. Secondly, if he does win Iowa and New Hampshire, or wins one comfortably and takes a narrow second in the other, he will be the one on the roll and Hillary will be on the defensive, adding further momentum to his campaign nationally. Finally, one reason why Hillary’s been struggling – the e-mail saga from her time as Secretary of State – is not going away any time soon and may get worse. Even without the polling and voting stories, the national swing may continue to be against her.

Against all this is the fact that he is Bernie Sanders, socialist. Hillary cannot now ride to victory on a wave of adulation and entitlement but she can fight for the nomination and there’s plenty of negative campaigning to be thrown if needs be – and needs may very well be.

I very much doubt that Sanders’ surge has much to do with his intrinsic qualities as a candidate, though his core support was important in making him the alternative to Hillary; this is much more about an anti-Clinton vote. And that gives the Democrats a problem because in an election where the Republicans seem to be falling over themselves to find the least attractive candidate to put to the electorate, the Democrats may yet find both their offerings still worse: a crook and a commie. Both descriptions are of course unfair but in politics and perception, fairness is not always relevant.

Sanders should not win the nomination. For all that he might poll well in the head-to-heads at the moment, I don’t believe that would withstand a Republican campaigning onslaught. If he is nominated, it will largely because he is the last man standing after Hillary’s chances are fatally affected by further revelations; if nothing else comes out, it’ll be her.

We may also need to now put aside speculation about Biden or someone else becoming candidate in a brokered convention. That might have been possible had Hillary taken 80% of the votes and close to 100% of the delegates, and then been forced to withdraw. Sanders performing strongly across the country not just in Iowa and New Hampshire but through Super Tuesday and beyond, will earn him his place as first reserve and it will then become very difficult to parachute someone in over his head if Hillary falls. Theoretically, a King Over the Water candidate could still join and win the late primaries; twelve states have filing deadlines in March or later, including California. In reality, the momentum Sanders would pick up in between would almost certainly prove decisive. Those who took my tip to back Biden on the exchanges at 199/1 may want to think about cashing out now at the 28/1 available at the time of writing.

Sanders is currently best-priced at 4/1 with both Ladbrokes and SkyBet, which is probably about right. His odds for the presidency are 8/1 (Stan James), implying a better than evens chance if he wins the nomination. I think that’s too short and would want at least 12s. The value for the big prize remains, as it has done for months, with the Donald. Yes, his ratings with many demographics are appalling but he only has to beat the candidates he’s up against.

David Herdson.


PB’s “Labour insider”, Henry G Manson, marks your card for the next leadership contest

Friday, January 22nd, 2016


Jarvis & Nandy are now the value choices for next leader

Last Saturday at the annual Fabian Conference the headline speaker was Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. However one of the more interesting debates at the event was Dan Jarvis, Lisa Nandy and Keir Starmer speaking alongside each other. There’s a high chance that one of those three will be the next leader of the Labour Party and the Fabians knew it.

I first picked out Lisa Nandy in September 2010 in a piece for PB on four future leader prospects among the newly elected MPs. (I never for a moment thought the next leader would have been first elected in 1983.) In subsequent years under Ed Miliband, Chuka Umunna, Rachel Reeves and Stella Creasy made big advances while Lisa Nandy progressed to the more modest Shadow Charities Minister. Stella finished second in the deputy contest, Chuka stood and withdrew for leader and Rachel is on the backbenches having been Shadow Secretary of State for the Department for Work and Pensions and living to fight another day. Lisa Nandy may be the one to win the crown.

As Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change she has a brief that is topical, and of interest to many Labour members. Nandy is increasingly used by the party for unflappable media performances in tricky situations in the way John Reid was in his heyday and handled the live resignation of Stephen Doughty on the Daily Politics show admirably. While other Shadow Cabinet ministers keep their heads down, Nandy will go out to bat for the party.

In 2010 I said she had every chance of being Labour’s first female leader and the odds suggest she does. Nandy is 9/1 to be the next leader with William Hill and the only woman to feature in the top 12 shortest prices for possible candidates. Every leadership election I wonder if this will be the time Labour chooses a female leader. It’s now 40 years since Thatcher became Conservative leader. One day Labour might go for the idea. What makes Lisa Nandy value is that she is probably the most leftish candidate who would get onto the ballot in the next contest and will go towards a membership that went for Corbyn in a big way. None of the hard-core Corbyn supporting MPs stand a chance of mustering the number of MPs needed and there will not be any charitable nominations for a long, long time so she starts with an advantage.

At a time when the Labour Party is increasingly fractured between its members and its MPs, Nandy is probably the only potential candidate that could attempt to unite the party. Of the party’s ‘soft left’ but with respect from a good number on the party’s centre-right she could heal wounds and get people working together.

She told Sophie Ridge (who tipped her to be next leader) “some of my best friends in Labour are people who have different instincts to me. I’m interested in consensus building.” Consensus is in short supply right now in the Labour Party. She’s tougher than Ed Miliband but more modern than Jeremy Corbyn. I’d probably make her closer to 3/1 or 7/2 to be the next leader.

The bookies’ joint favourite is former paratrooper Dan Jarvis. What’s left of New Labour wing is coalescing around the Barnsley MP and he’s fundraising to boost his office and coffers for when the moment to strike emerges. The more Corbyn suffers through ludicrous positions on the Falklands, defence and disrespect to the monarchy the case for Jarvis becomes more appealing.

However, with the current membership of the Labour Party as left as it has been for a generation, I can’t see a particularly easy path to victory no matter how much money he has to spend unless the party membership changes again through mass resignations of Corbyn supporters. The will to win is apparent and that will get him a reasonably long way down the track. Most don’t yet know what he stands for on a number issues outside defence and they are gaps he will need to plug in the coming months and from the backbenches he has the freedom to do that. 9/2 has some value too.

The next Labour leadership contest will probably only have two or three candidates as MPs will aim to ensure whoever wins has a sizeable amount of proven support on the green benches. Jarvis and Nandy look best placed and if back both candidates and I’m sure you’ll be holding a winning ticket. What we don’t know is when Corbyn will go and how. My instinct is that 2017 offers good value at 5/1 in the William Hill leadership exit date market. I can’t see this unlikely leader wanting to fight a general election but there will be those around him who won’t want him to relinquish their stranglehold of the party machinery in a hurry so it’s hard to be certain. We’re in unchartered political waters.

Henry G Manson



The doubts over Cruz’s eligibility will hurt him in the eyes of primary voters irrespective of their validity

Thursday, January 21st, 2016


Trump now Betfair favourite to win Iowa

An ongoing issue for Cruz has been whether the fact that he was Canadian born makes him ineligible to serve as President. The constitution lays down that the office holder has to be a “natural born” American. There are many legal views on this, read the article linked to above, and it would probably end up in the Supreme Court.

The question at this stage just before the primaries start is not whether the assertions of ineligibility are legally correct but how voters perceive this.

For the notion that he might not be qualified will have an impact simply because of the uncertainty. Trump has played this well.

Before the article was published Cruz was odds on to win the Iowa caucuses. Now Trump has replaced him.

I’ve now reduced my Cruz betting position.

Mike Smithson


Now the talk is of a Donald Trump Sarah Palin ticket

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016


You can get her at 5/1 as GOP V-P nominee

With only 11 days to go before the Iowa caucuses the former Governor of Alaska and 2008 VP candidate, Sarah Palin, flew into the state last night and endorsed Donald Trump for the Presidency.

This is the first state to decide and where the property billionaire turned TV star, Donald Trump, is competing now in second place in most polls. In the betting Ted Cruz remains the favourite to win a week on Monday.

Inevitably the move has sparked off speculation that she’d be the Donald’s V-P choice and you can get her at 5/1 on Betfair.

Whatever this dramatic move keeps the Trump campaign right at the top of the news agenda. We’ll have to wait to see how the ultra conservative voters in this very religious state react.

So far there had been little response on the main GOP nomination betting markets where Trump is favourite.

With all things Iowa I’ve learnt that it is always best to wait until the final DMR Register poll that is likely a week on Saturday. This has a superb record of picking up late movements amongst that very small group of Iowans – those who actually participate in the caucus process.

To recall people make their choice for the nomination by attending 1600 precinct meetings across the state. This is not a normal election and Iowa has thrown many surprises in the past.

Mike Smithson


Two weeks to go until Iowa: White House Race Round up

Monday, January 18th, 2016


Alastair Meeks on why London is different and why Sadiq Khan should win comfortably

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

London is different.  We often hear that.  But just how different is it?  London’s Mayoral election is due in May.  With no incumbent, we are set for a fight between two rather less charismatic figures than before; neither Zac Goldsmith nor Sadiq Khan yet have the first name recognition or the tabloid quotability of the two previous office-holders.  Default party support is going to be more important than in any previous Mayoral election.  So working out just how different London is from the rest of the country is of vital importance in assessing their chances.

And it turns out that London really is very different.

London is not like the rest of Britain

In the course of a four year Mayoral term, London’s electorate changes rapidly.  As of June 2014 its estimated population was just over 8.5 million.  London consistently generates a net outflow of internal population movements, with roughly 200,000 a year moving into London and roughly 250,000 a year leaving London.  However, at the same time London’s population is consistently growing.  This is caused by international migration and more births than deaths.

London is much younger than the rest of the UK.  The median age of Britain is 40.  The median age of London is 34.

London is much less white than the rest of Britain.  At the 2011 census, 80% of respondents across Britain identified as white British.   In London, that figure was just 45% (another 15% identified as white non-British).  Both the national and London census figures showed a decline in the percentage of white British from the 2001 census and there is no reason to assume that the decline has halted or reversed.  It is entirely possible that less than 40% of the population of London now is white British.

London is also much richer than the rest of Britain.  In 2012, GVA per head across the UK was £21,674.  In London it was £37,232.  Set against that, 14 out of the top 20 local authorities with the highest rates of child poverty across the UK in 2014 were in London.  It had all of the top nine boroughs for long term unemployment in 2012.  London is a city of economic extremes.

London’s wealth does not convert into a property-owning city.  At the last census, while only 36% of householders rented across England & Wales, over 50% of Londoners were renters.

Electoral London is not Britain

How does this map onto the electoral battleground? Younger people are much more prone than their older cohorts to voting for Labour. At the last general election the Conservatives led Labour 39% to 28% among white voters, but trailed them by 23% to 65% among BME voters.  At the last general election Labour led the Conservatives among social renters 50% to 18% (UKIP also tallied 18%) and Labour also led the Conservatives among private renters 39% to 28% (all these polling figures are courtesy of Ipsos-MORI).

So all of this looks good for Labour in London.  Labour’s strength is now largely focussed in England’s big cities.  Labour hold 45 out of 73 Westminster seats in London, but the Conservatives still have substantial seat holdings in London, unlike Liverpool, Manchester or Sheffield.

At the last general election, Labour took 43.7% of the vote in London while the Conservatives took 34.9%.  This gives us a fairly recent benchmark for the relative popularity of the parties rather than the personalities of the Mayoral candidates, though these figures may be skewed by the public’s views of the personalities of David Cameron and Ed Miliband. Turnout was, however, 65.5%, far higher than at previous Mayoral elections.   In 2012 turnout was 38.1%, which is just about the average for the four Mayoral elections so far held.  So the party’s ground game and their supporters’ motivation to get to the polling booth is going to be critical.

At a national level, the Conservatives led Labour 37% to 31% at the general election.  Currently the average of the opinion polls is running at something like Conservatives 38%, Labour 31% – so no real movement since the election.  Is there any reason to believe that London has moved differently from the country as a whole in the last few months?  In terms of polling, no.  The most recent London-only poll suggested that the Conservatives had gained a 1% swing from Labour since the last election, but Labour’s own rating was holding steady (the poll also suggested Sadiq Khan was in the lead against Zac Goldsmith).  Quite how much weight we can now place on polls is anyone’s guess, but for what it’s worth, it seems Labour’s position in London has not noticeably deteriorated.

We know that Labour has had a massive upsurge in members since the general election.  There may now be more Labour members in London than Conservative members in the whole of the UK.  The average constituency Labour party full membership in London has doubled since the spring and in some constituencies the rise has been much bigger: in Hackney North the full membership has tripled, with many more registered supporters and associate members on top.  The party membership was already skewed towards London and this trend seems to have intensified further.  So Labour’s already substantial advantage in the ground game numbers looks likely to improve further, even if most of these new members are armchair warriors.

This disproportionate increase in membership numbers hints that Jeremy Corbyn’s message might play out disproportionately well with a London audience.  At the very least, there’s no reason to suppose that Labour is doing worse in London than elsewhere at present and quite a few hints that it is doing at least as well.

The sum of all this is that all other things being equal, Labour are very well-placed to win the Mayoral election.  Unless Sadiq Khan crashes and burns or Zac Goldsmith dazzles with his personality, they can expect to win comfortably.  With no sign of either of those things taking place and only four months to go, Sadiq Khan should be something like 2/5 to win.  He’s currently best priced at 8/11 (with ToteSport and BetFred) and 4/6 is widely available.  Back him.

Alastair Meeks


Trump now in clear lead in the betting following another confident debate performance

Friday, January 15th, 2016



Trump now the clear favourite on Betfair to win the Republican nomination for the Presidency

Thursday, January 14th, 2016


Just 18 days till Iowa

For the Presidency he’s a 14.7% chance