Archive for the 'WHITE HOUSE RACE' Category


The impact of the 1st debate on WH2016 & the prospects now for Corbyn: this week’s PB/Polling Matters TV show/podcast

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

After a big few days in both UK and US politics the PB/Polling Matters looks in detail at the impact of Corbyn’s re-election and where the Trump-Clinton battle stands now. How much importance should we attach to the instant post debate polling and in the UK is there any way that Corbyn can now move forward following his convincing leadership victory.

Joining Keiran Pedley (@keiranpedley) are Rob Vance (@robvance) and Leo (@leobarasi)

Rob highights the post debate polling showing a boost for Clinton and the team discuss whether it will last. Keiran explains why he hasn’t ruled Trump out yet and Leo sets out a strategy Trump might take in the final few weeks of the campaign. Keiran and Rob then look at which states will be important to watch out for in upcoming polls.

Leo then moves on to Ian Warren’s Labour leadership exit poll by YouGov and the team discuss what Labour MPs will do next. Keiran looks at recent ICM and ComRes polling and what it might mean for a future Labour policy offer as the party seeks to reunite and make up ground versus the Tories.

Finally, the team look ahead to Theresa May’s first Tory conference speech and what Corbyn has to do to look like a PM-in-waiting.
Follow this week’s guests at:

The audio podcast version.

Mike Smithson


The WH2016 betting moves markedly back to Clinton after convincing first debate performance

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016


On Betfair it is now Clinton 68% Trump 30%

Well over £3m was traded on Betfair as the market moves back to Hillary Clinton following a confident first debate performance against Donald Trump.

This is how Taegan Goddard of Political Wire summed up the night’s event:

“. Clinton was particularly effective when needling him on not releasing his tax returns, saying, “Why won’t he release his tax returns? Maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is.”

Trump couldn’t resist and in the resulting back-and-forth, he actually bragged about not paying his workers and not paying taxes. “It’s called business,” he repeatedly said.

On the substance of the debate, Clinton was the clear winner. She was controlled and methodical in making her case. Trump was constantly interrupting and spit out jumbled talking points that sounded like they came from some obscure corner of the Internet.

It wasn’t even close. Clinton crushed him…”

There are still two more Clinton Trump events as well as the VP debate and we must remember that in 2012 Romney hammered a lacklustre Obama in the first session but was beaten in the remaining two encounters. My guess is that Trump will learn from what’s happened and be better prepared next time.

The Clinton campaign will be clearly hoping that the narrative of the election will move back following a difficult period when everything seemed to be moving against her.

The next national and swing state voting polls are eagerly awaited.

Mike Smithson


Tonight’s the big one in WH2016 and the betting could be turned on its head

Monday, September 26th, 2016

In previous White House Races the first debate has been seen as a sort of official start to hostilities. This is said to be the point when voters start to get engaged. This time that is much less so because public interest in the fight to succeed Obama has been far higher than anything we’ve seen before.

The fight for the GOP nomination saw the biggest TV debate audiences ever and records are expected to be broken overnight.

The reason is, of course, the ultimate marmite contender, the real estate magnate turned TV star and now GOP nominee, Donald Trump. He’s a totally divisive figure who is up against an opponent who arouses equal hostility or backing. Never before have the two contenders had such negative personal poll ratings.

As the CNN report at the top shows it is going to be very hard for TV viewers to avoid the debate because it is being carried on so many networks and no doubt Tuesday will be dominated by reporting, analysis and reaction.

For WH2016 punters there’s a good chance that things could look markedly different tomorrow. There’ll be the initial polling reaction on who won and this will be followed by new national and state voting polls over the next few days.

In past elections it is not who is deemed to have came out of the debate best that mattered but how they looked and what their responses said about them. In 2008 when McCain faced Obama a big and damaging story was that the Republican had not even looked at his opponent for the entire debate.

I am long on Trump after betting on him on July 25th on Betfair when his price was not as tight as it is today. I can’t decide whether to take my profits now or risk things changing post debate.

For UK viewers both Sky and BBC news will be showing this live.

Mike Smithson


Punters continue to make Clinton a 60%+ chance even though the polling remains very tight

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

Just three days to go before the first WH2016 debate

This is, of course, all about the outcomes in the key swing states but the national surveys gives us a good overview of the election that takes place in just 46 days time.

The betting remains remarkably static and Hillary’s 9/11 incident seems to have worked its way out of the system.

Trump is dominant amongst white working class men while Clinton has the edge with women, non-white and those who went to college. The demographic splits have a BREXIT look about them.

Its a cliche to say it’ll all be about turnout which is what happened in the UK on June 23rd. The segments with a history of low participation voted in greater numbers than many forecast.

My betting remains on Trump because I think there is more potential for his price to tighten. Whether I stick with that I don’t know.

Mike Smithson


Terror casts a shadow over the race for the White House

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

Keiran Pedley looks at how unfolding events in New York and New Jersey might impact the US presidential race.

It is sadly inevitable that events in New York and New Jersey – coming so soon after the anniversary of 9/11 – will be analysed through the prism of the coming election. What is less clear is the impact they will have. The traditional view is that events surrounding national security will favour the Republican candidate. However, given that the Republican candidate is Donald Trump, you could be forgiven for thinking that the so-called ‘safe’ candidate Clinton will benefit. Or, perhaps most plausibly of all, it will make no difference as both candidates are deeply unpopular and voter perceptions of them are virtually set in stone already.

A YouGov / Economist poll, taken before recent events, helps shed some light on the subject. As expected, voters have reservations about both candidates. 55% of registered voters are ‘uneasy’ about Hilary Clinton’s ability to deal with terrorism with the same number uneasy about Trump. However, when it comes to who is ready to be Commander-in-Chief (or who is more qualified to be president) the verdict is clear:


The above figures are the race in a nutshell. Clinton’s numbers are not especially good but it’s a two-horse race and her numbers are better than Trump’s. Clinton knows this. Her comments this evening on events in New Jersey today show a candidate pitching clearly as the ‘safe pair of hands’ when it comes to national security:

“I have sat at that table in the [White House] Situation Room,” she said. “I’ve analysed the threats. I’ve contributed to actions that have neutralised our enemies. I know how to do this.”

Clinton will hope such words hold sway with voters come November.

For Trump there is work to do. When 59% of Independents and even one in four Republicans think you are not qualified to be president you have a problem. He will spend the coming weeks trying to change such perceptions and arguing that a vote for Clinton represents a continuation of failed Obama policies in the Middle East. Expect him to go big on immigration too. His ability to win such arguments will be key to his eventual chances of success.

Clinton maintains her Pennsylvania firewall

Meanwhile, after an awful week, there was some good news for the Clinton campaign this weekend with a  Pennsylvania poll showing her 9 points ahead of Trump. This gives Clinton a lead averaging 6.6 points in the Keystone state with Real Clear Politics. Listeners to this week’s PB/Polling Matters podcast (episode below) will know the importance of Pennsylvania. Steven Shepard, chief polling analyst at Politico in Washington DC, explains why it could decide the election. Whilst Clinton maintains a lead there her campaign will remain quietly confident that she will eventually prevail.


Keiran Pedley presents the PB/Polling Matters podcast and tweets about polling and politics at @keiranpedley. You can listen to the most recent podcast below – a special on the US election featuring Steven Shepard from Politico and Federica Cocco from the Financial Times:


Trump: grinding his way to victory?

Saturday, September 17th, 2016


Suddenly his path to the White House is looking a lot clearer

The Terminator had nothing on Donald Trump. Relentless, seemingly unstoppable, impervious, unflappable, possessed of a few choice popular catch-phrases, assimilated but still not of this (political) world: the public’s watched in horrified awe as he swept all opposition so far aside. Can Hillary Clinton make an even less plausible Sarah Connor and find the equivalent of a crushing steel press in the form of the electorate?

Her health troubles this last week are one reason to wonder. Trump has not unnaturally questioned her fitness to serve and her lack of straightforwardness on the issue plays into an already established narrative about her truthfulness. That’s a little unfair – all politicians want to appear to be in fighting health all the time because the alternative suggests weakness to both public and opponents – but with the evidence on TV screens across the country, the questions are not wholly without merit.

More seriously, her polling has taken a turn for the worse. FiveThirtyEight has a very good article highlighting how Trump is doing disproportionately well in the swing states, compounding his gains in the overall national shares.

Whereas Obama enjoyed an advantage in the Electoral College, where his vote distribution would have seen him home reasonably comfortably if a UNS is applied to tie the race on national vote, this time it’s Trump who would prevail in the Electoral College if he and Hillary win equal shares.

Not that he is level: Hillary still retains a small national lead (2.6% according to the Huff Post average; just 1.5% if you prefer RCP), but it’s a measly one with over seven weeks still remaining and even smaller once his Electoral College advantage is factored in.

Then there’s the Terminator factor. Trump has been written off many times as unelectable but despite all the incoming fire (including from his own side), he’s still advancing and must be viewed as standing a very real chance of winning. Yes, he has some dire ratings with some demographics but the only question is whether he can win enough pluralities in enough states to make the magic 270 votes – and he evidently can.

In the last month, Hillary’s lead has dropped by about 5½%. We should never confuse projection with prediction and Trump will inevitably have a low ceiling to his vote: the two poll averages quoted put it at about 44% so far, which is a level Hillary has hardly ever fallen below but even so, a further drop of just half that in nearly twice as long would hand Trump the election. Given the new material he has to work with and her poor campaigning style, which consists mainly of seeking applause for banalities, I’d have the odds as only marginally favouring Hillary.

So once again and as it has almost continually since day one, the value lies with Trump and, I’d suggest, makes the 6/4 widely available on him quite attractive.

David Herdson

p.s. On a similar note, Hillary’s health scare caused the odds on Biden, Sanders and Kaine to tumble. I would suggest avoiding them all. The logistics of changing nominee at this late stage are a nightmare. Most state filing deadlines have passed so Hillary ought to be on the ballot pretty much everywhere come what may now. Were she to withdraw due to ill health (or worse), some electors would have the option to go officially rogue and support an alternative nominee but others are bound by state law to support the nominated candidate.

It almost certainly wouldn’t matter. Were she to withdraw then with Trump polling as competitively as he is at the moment, it’s hard to believe that he wouldn’t prevail comfortably given the chaos that there’d be in the Democrats in that scenario. Furthermore, if somehow the Democrats did prevent Trump from winning an outright majority, there’d still be a good chance that the race would end up in the House due to what would be the inability of the Blues to lawfully unite around a single alternative candidate. With the Republicans almost certain to hold a majority of state delegations in the House come January, Trump would still be very much in pole position.


With polls tightening & the betting moves to Trump tonight’s PB/Polling Matters TV Show/Podcast returns to WH2016

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Joining Keiran (on the programme is the Politco polling analyst, Steven Shepard (@POLITICO_Steve) and Federica Cocco (@federicacocco) statistical journalist at the Financial Times in the UK.

The Clinton health scare on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 and her team’s reaction to it have reinforced doubts about her and have inevitably given Trump a boost. This is, of course, being reflected in the betting where the latest on the Betfair Exchange has Trump on 34/35%. Clinton is hovering around the 60% level.

Keiran and Steven discuss the impact of Clinton’s healthcare issues on the race and Trump’s path to the presidency. Steven shares the latest US polling news and explains what the Electoral College would look like if each candidate won the states where they lead in the most recent poll. The result might surprise you. Steven also explains what is going on in Ohio and the potential impact of the coming presidential debates.

Keiran and Federica look at parallels between Brexit and Trump’s support and Federica gives a detailed analysis of Trump’s position among American female voters (including an interesting stat about which group is most likely to turnout at presidential elections). Keiran raises Clinton’s trust issues and whether Trump’s tone has changed. Finally, Keiran and Federica look at voter expectations about who will win the first presidential debate and why this might be a problem for Clinton. The show finishes on the debates and a great Blackadder quote from Federica.

The audio podcast is available here.

Mike Smithson


It’s time to take a Trump presidency seriously – it could happen

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

Events this weekend remind us that the conditions are there for Trump to win says Keiran Pedley. The Clinton campaign needs to get back on the front foot and fast.


Whether you call it a stumble, collapse or storm in a teacup, Clinton’s apparent fainting as she left this weekend’s 9/11 memorial service reminds us that her victory in November is far from certain. (UPDATE: With it now confirmed that she has been diagnosed with pneumonia it is inevitable that her health will be a key issue in this presidential campaign).

Many will ask how it has come to this considering that Donald Trump is arguably the most inadequate Republican nominee in a generation. A recent Gallup poll showed 62% of Americans have an unfavourable view of him. However, as I said on this week’s PB/Polling Matters podcast (which you can download below), the truth is that many of us observers have misjudged this race for a while. As with Brexit, the underlying conditions are there for a Trump win if we choose not to ignore them. An average of 66% of Americans think the country is on the ‘wrong track’. The question is whether he has the discipline to take advantage.

Clinton the unpopular favourite

The main reason that Trump stands a chance is that Clinton is basically as unpopular as he is. Far from being a contest between a credible ‘president-in-waiting’ versus, well Donald Trump (as I must confess I had long seen it) to most Americans this race is a choice between ‘the lesser of two evils’. The same Gallup poll mentioned above that showed 62% of Americans with an unfavourable view of Trump also showed 57% with an unfavourable view of Clinton.

This is important. Much of the analysis to-date has focused on Trump’s dreadful numbers among African American and Hispanic voters. However, there has been far too little analysis of Clinton’s deep unpopularity with other groups of voters. A recent Bloomberg poll for example gave Trump a 25 point lead among white men with no college degree. YouGov shows 53% of Whites and 51% of those aged 65+ VERY unfavourable to Clinton. The reality is that Trump is toxic to many Americans but so too is Hilary Clinton.

A campaign fought on Trump’s terms

Given the unpopularity of each candidate it is vital to their respective campaigns to fight the election on their terms and ultimately to make November a referendum on their opponents weaknesses. Until very recently the Clinton campaign was doing this, aided largely by a series of unforced errors from Trump. However, the tide appears to be turning. In the past couple of weeks Trump has been resurgent. The news cycle has focused on immigration, his visit to Mexico and Clinton’s apparent weaknesses over her emails, the Clinton foundation and now her health. Her post-convention poll bounce has all but evaporated. We shouldn’t overdo it though – she still maintains a healthy poll lead of around 3-4 points nationally. She is still the favourite (for now).

Clinton needs to reassert control

But the Clinton campaign does need to take back control of events (pardon the pun). Right now it seems to be slipping away from her. It is for this reason that this weekend’s fall is so damaging. It makes sure that the coming days will focus on her apparent weaknesses and questions about her health rather than whether or not Trump is a credible occupant of the Oval Office. Clinton desperately needs to get out there, answer these questions over her health decisively and then turn public attention back to Trump.

Looking ahead to the debates

The coming presidential debates offer both candidates the opportunity to define the terms on which Americans vote in November. For Clinton, they will be an opportunity to focus minds on the prospect of a Trump presidency and why she is the safer choice. However these debates are also fraught with danger for Clinton. If Trump is able to surpass (low) expectations – much as Romney did in his first debate with Obama – then Clinton could be in trouble.

Of course we still have two weeks until the first debate. The next fortnight will be vital for trajectory of the campaign and will set the tone for how each candidate approaches the first debate. For Clinton, the task is to get her campaign back on track after a tough couple of weeks so she can use the presidential debates as a means of cementing her advantage over Trump. For Trump, he has to maintain the media focus on Clinton’s weaknesses and to define her as ‘yesterday’s woman’. If he can do that and then surpass expectations in the debates then he has a real chance of winning in November.

It is worth remembering that this is Donald Trump we are talking about. The likelihood that he can go the final 8 weeks or so of this campaign without making any more mistakes seems slim. However, the fact Clinton seems to need him to shoot himself in the foot to win is worrying. Right now, this campaign feels like the EU referendum where a struggling Leave side refocused on immigration and Remain didn’t have an answer. If Clinton mirrors the Remain campaign and fails to reassert herself she is in trouble. Forget the Electoral College and state polling – if Trump ends up taking a 4-5 point lead nationally it won’t matter. The Electoral College will take care of itself.

Clinton still favourite (for now)

On balance, Trump’s inadequacies still make a Clinton victory more likely than not. The balance of probabilities says we still get one or two more media cycles focusing on Trump’s flaws that could prove decisive as we approach Election Day. Clinton is still the more experienced politician with an awful lot of money and organisation behind her. However, having previously seen a Clinton victory as inevitable I am now not so sure. It’s time to face the fact that Trump can win.

Keiran Pedley

Keiran Pedley presents the PB/Polling Matters podcast. He tweets about polling and politics at @keiranpedley.

You can listen to the latest PB/Polling Matters podcast below