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Well this is turning into quite the volte-facemasks from Boris Johnson

July 14th, 2020

TSE




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Sunak now level-pegging with Johnson on who would make the “best PM”

July 14th, 2020

The Chancellor is also 8% ahead of Starmer

Newbie pollsters, Redfield & Wilton are now asking their samples every week “At this moment, which of the following individuals do you think would be the better Prime Minister for the United Kingdom? ” One of the comparisons is between Boris Johnson and Ricki Sunak.

As can be seen from the Wikipedia table above Johnson has led on this by margins of upto 13% in the past three polls but in the latest the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak has drawn level.

My guess is that a part of the change is driven by the fact that the Chancellor has only come to the fore in UK politics over the past year and has far less name recognition.

But it must be worrying for the current incumbent at Number 10 that his young Chancellor is barking at his heals.

In another finding comparing Sunak with Starmer on the same question the Chancellor has an 8% lead.

Mike Smithson



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The decision to make mask wearing in shops compulsory dominates the front pages

July 14th, 2020

But is this another pandemic measure that should have been brought in earlier?

So the decision has last been made that shoppers in England should be forced by law to wear masks in shops but not till July 24th. Like other elements in Britain’s attempt to to contain the pandemic the big political issue has been on the timing. Should this have been brought in earlier?

The Independent notes:

As early as 21 April, the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) concluded that “on balance, there is enough evidence to support recommendation of community use of cloth face masks, for short periods in enclosed spaces, where social distancing is not possible”. The scientists stressed that non-medical coverings were of little use to protect the wearer from infection, but could help avoid an asymptomatic Covid-19 sufferer from passing on the disease to others. Mr Johnson has faced increasing criticism for shying away from a legal requirement to use them in shops. The Independent Sage group of scientists said that “face masks should be made mandatory in indoors spaces wherever possible”.

On the front pages it is the most tabloid of the tabloids, the Daily Star, that appears to be chiming with the public mood. Life has been curtailed in some form by Covid for a third of a year and covering most of your face in shops appears to be something that is easy and cheap for people to do.

I live in Bedford which has been one of the places worst hit and it has been noticeable how mask wearing in the most vulnerable parts of the town has increased sharply in the past fortnight.

This latest measure applies to just in shops and I wonder whether it will spill over into most aspects of life outside the home. It is a bit of a faff getting masks on and off so if you are going shopping you’ll probably wear it all the time.

It should be noted that this measure relates to just England though other parts of the UK have brought this in earlier. The public have been ready as this from YouGov suggests.

Mike Smithson



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Pence for Republican VP nominee – what are the chances that he won’t be?

July 13th, 2020

While there’s been a lot of betting activity on Biden’s VP pick (£1.2m so far matched on Betfair) there’s been much less activity on Mike Pence being on the Republican ticket (just £12k) once again in November. He’s currently at 1.11/1.16 on Betfair which might be value for the lay.

There are a couple of ways that he’s not in the VP slot. First Trump could pull out of the race and there have been some suggestions that this might not happen. Much of the current blitz of Republican anti-Trump advertising appears to be designed to get Trump to stand aside and his poll ratings continue to look awful. So there must be a possibility that he won’t stand again in which case it is hard to see Pence continuing as VP. More likely in that situation would be Pence going for the presidential slot.

Second even if Trump decides to go again could he just conclude that someone else on the ticket in the VP slot might help him more? I’ve been very taken with this article on the Intelligencer by Ed Kilgore headed “Could Dumping Pence Be a Last-Minute Game Changer for Trump?”. He writes

 Trump is in very serious danger of not being reelected. He needs a game changer to reset the race, and a fresh veep is a time-honored way to do that, even if it involves (to quote the words said to John McCain in 2008 about choosing Sarah Palin ) “high risk [and potentially] high reward.” Indeed, if, like Trump, you have no real second-term agenda to tout and no capacity to “pivot to the center” and pursue swing voters via messaging or policies, it’s one of the few cards in the deck. In a podcast at FiveThirtyEight in which Nate Silver, Claire Malone, and Perry Bacon Jr. batted around various emergency steps Team Trump could take to turn it all around, a switch in running mates was the one that made the most sense to them. Second, Trump could perhaps try to blame Pence for his administration’s deadliest and most politically damaging error, its mishandling of COVID-19 .

I don’t think this will happen but it could be a potential game changer that Trump considers deploying. I’m not quite sure there’s value in the betting yet but it could shift and might be worth a punt.

Mike Smithson



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How long before Johnson’s “should” wear masks become a legal requirement?

July 13th, 2020

Govey is taking a different view

The growing big political issue in relation to controlling the pandemic is whether or not people should be required to wear masks. What is interesting is there appears to be a difference in opinion between Johnson and senior cabinet minister Michael Gove who told the BBC yesterday that face coverings should not be mandatory.

The big difference between Johnson and Gove, of course, is that the former has actually been through the turmoil and agony of contracting the disease and he still appears not to have fully recovered.

Inevitably this apparent clash at the top of government means there is a lack of clarity on the issue which opens it up to attack.

All this is not helped by there being different rules in force on mask wearing in the four parts of the UK. Face coverings are compulsory on public transport in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland – while the Welsh government says it will enforce the same measure from 27 July. North of the border coverings are also mandatory in shops.

One thing that we all recall is what was said about the subject at the start of lockdown when doubts were raised about their effectiveness of face coverings. That has now moved on and there is much more agreement on the issue.

Mike Smithson



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As Covid soars to new US peak YouGov polling suggests that Trump is being hurt most amongst those who feel worst affected

July 13th, 2020

New CBS polling in three big sunbelt states that now look to be highly competitive has found that the more voters are concerned about the virus the more they are likely to support Biden.

The three states, Arizona, Florida and Texas have been amongst the worst hit in the resurgence of the pandemic and this is reflected in the polling. In the states Biden is now leading Trump by 6% in Florida, and with highly competitive races in Arizona and in Texas, where Biden is down by just 1% to Trump.

CBS reports:

Biden has made gains in part because most say their state’s efforts to contain the virus are going badly — and the more concerned voters are about risks from the outbreak, the more likely they are to support Biden. This is helping Biden not only to post bigger gains with groups that already trend Democratic — like women and younger voters — but also to cut into Mr. Trump’s margins with seniors. Seniors who are very concerned about coronavirus back Biden in large numbers.

But there are positives for Trump in the polling. Trump backers are far more enthusiastic about their man than Biden ones and the economy is for many the biggest issue and here Trump scores well.

A big hope for Trump must be that the threat of Covid will have receded sharply by November 2nd and for some of those concerned voters it will be less of an issue in deciding their choice.

Mike Smithson



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The Lincoln Project’s response to Trump’s pardon of convicted felon Roger Stone

July 12th, 2020

There’s little doubt that Trump’s pardon of advisor, Roger Stone, only days before he was due to start a prison sentence is a huge moment in this election campaign.

He’s not the first President to issue controversial pardons and many remember the final days of Bill Clinton’s terms. But this one really stands out and looks set to play a big part in the coming weeks in the efforts of those who want to stop him being re-elected.

The Lincoln Project, as we have discussed before on PB, is putting out some powerful ads and is not pulling any punches. It is important to note that the backers of this are Republicans who simply have come to the end of the road with Trump.

A key voting block in this coming election are college educated white women who went for Trump in 2016. Now they’ve switched sharply against him. My guess is that this kind of ad has them as a key target.

Mike Smithson



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The latest Opinium poll has Starmer beating Johnson on thirteen different measures yet still the Tories retain their 4% voting lead

July 12th, 2020

Good news for the red team as their leader completes his first three months?

The above chart from Opinium sets out the responses to a wide range of match-ups between Starmer and Johnson and as can be seen these sre not good for the current incumbent at Number 10.

One of the reasons as you look through the detail is that voters of just about all persuasions including Tories are reluctant to give the new LAB leader and former DPP a negative rating on anything.

As can be expected the latest approval ratings in the poll have Johnson a net 28 points behind the opposition leader. The PM still has a small lead as “best PM”.

Like just about all UK pollsters Opinium asks for Westminster voting intention first in its polling and clearly here Labour have some way to go to recover from the Corbyn years which in its final electoral test last December saw the party slump to it lowest level in terms of MPs since 1935.

I just wonder whether the firm would get a different outcome with named leader voting questions. Instead of ticking just the party box poll participants are given the choice of Keir Starmer’s Labour and the like. Interestingly this poll has the following finding with Rishi Sunak appearing alongside Johnson’s name on trust on the economy.

Mike Smithson