Archive for October, 2004


Bringing it all together

Sunday, October 31st, 2004

As we move into the final thirty-six hours can we recommend this site which brings polls, electoral vote predictions and Tradesports prices all together.

Everything is moving so fast and Betfair alone has now seen more than £4m of matched bets on the race.

Bush 55.5 Kerry 44.5Iowa Political Futures Market
Bush 54 Kerry 46 Tradesports exchange
Bush 1.71 Kerry 2.38 Betfair exchange
Bush 3/5 Kerry 5/4 UK bookmaker best price

Polling round-up showing variance of margin on last poll
Bush 46 Kerry 46 Fox
Bush 47 Kerry 48 DCorps
Bush 48 Kerry 48 Zogby tracking
Bush 48 Kerry 48 ARG
Bush 49 Kerry 48 ABC

The big change has been Fox which has moved from a Bush 6% lead to them level-pegging.

Will the election be a tie?

There’s been a lot of speculation that this could be the outcome and the latest prediction is that there is a 3.25% chance of this happening – or 35/1. So the current William Hill price of 12/1 is not good value.


Is Blair really thinking of a February General Election

Sunday, October 31st, 2004

Betfair General Election Date Market – Jan-March 2005

There’s been a lot of activity on the election date markets following reports in the Sunday Times that Tony Blair is thinking of going to the country in February – not the 05/05/05 that everybody has been predicting.

The above Betfair price chart shows the price fluctuations but it’s now settled down. Full prices here.

Certainly there has been a good run of opinion polls for Labour taking the party out of the low 30s where they had been languishing for months. The polls include:
CON 33% LAB 39% LD 17% UKIP 4%. Communicate Research – Independent.
CON 32% LAB 36%, LD 22% UKIP 5%. YouGov – Telegraph
CON 31% LAB 37%, LD 23%. UKIP 4% – ICM Guardian

In spite of all the splits and rows about who should be leader UKIP continues to impose serious damage on the Tories. There is an argument for Labour to go while the going is good. Tony Blair does not need reminding, however, that the last February election, in 1974, saw Edward Heath’s Tories fail to win a majority and Harold Wilson returning to Number 10. From a practical standpoint an election when the evening are long is likely to depress turnout which could hinder Labour.

Some other figures that Tony Blair might like to ponder:-
1992 General Election Polls – Overstatement of Labour margin 9-10%
1997 General Election Polls – Overstatement of Labour margin 3.5%
2001 General Election Polls – Overstatement of Labour margin 6.6%

In a General Election situation where Tony Blair could be accused of “cutting and running” it only requires the UKIP dimension to evaporate a bit and you have a completely different ball game.

We are not convinced.


Are Kerry supporters like UK Tories – too embarrassed to admit it?

Sunday, October 31st, 2004

    Could the pollsters’ UK failings hold the secret of next Tuesday?

For political gamblers this election could not be closer and it’s going to come down to how you read the opinion polls – both state and national. Of the five latest, three have moved to Bush and two have moved to Kerry.

Polling round-up showing variance of margin on last poll
Bush 50 Kerry 45 Fox Kerry +2
Bush 47 Kerry 48 DCorps Bush +1
Bush 46 Kerry 47 Zogby tracking Kerry +1
Bush 46 Kerry 46 TIPP tracking Bush +2
Bush 50 Kerry 44 Newsweek Bush +3

The big issue that polling experts are debating is what will happen to those who say they are still undecided – but will vote. How will they split between the incumbent and the challenger?

    It’s on the incumbency split that this election will be decided.

One theory that certainly chimes with the years of underpolling of the Tories in the UK is that Kerry supporters might be more likely to tell this to a machine in an automated poll than “to admit to a fellow citizen that they were going to abandon a likeable, steadfast, patriotic wartime leader and vote for a dull, equivocating, aristocratic former anti-war activist.”

There’s hard evidence that this can happen from the 2001 UK General Election where Rasmussen’s interviewer-free polls were the only ones to get the Tory share correct. With a single exception all polls where those surveyed were interviewed underestimated the Tories. But is the US the same?

The “Mystery Pollster” writes this of Survey USA – which does automated polls. I think I see evidence of this in the polls by SurveyUSA in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. In each of those states, SUSA has Bush matching the RealClearPolitics average but has Kerry running a few points higher. Their surveys always show a higher undecided than most other surveys, and Jay Leve, SurveyUSA’s director has always speculated it is because their recorded interview better simulates the solitary experience the voting booth. At the same time, I see an opposite pattern in Iowa, Missouri and Colorado – so perhaps I’m just data mining. I want to watch this closely over the weekend.

If this proves to be correct it will completely change the way we look at polling for the coming UK General Election. Meanwhile there’s been a distinct move back to Bush in all the betting markets in what looks like a response to the Osama video.

Betting round up – 0730 GMT Sunday
Bush 55.7 Kerry 44.3 Iowa Political Futures Market
Bush 55 Kerry 45 Tradesports exchange
Bush 1.75 Kerry 2.32 Betfair exchange
Bush 8/13 Kerry 6/4 UK bookmaker best price


How will the Osama video affect the election?

Saturday, October 30th, 2004

    Another video drives the markets

Gamblers on both sides of the Atlantic have reacted in a fairly cool manner to the video tape of Osama Bin Laden that was released last night.

There were sharp moves to Bush as people took the view that this would remind electors of the ever-present terrorist threat. Then there has been a gradual easing back after some commentators observed that Osama’s “return” was another reminder of a failure of the Bush administration to capture Osama lending weight to the charge that by going into Iraq the President has had “his eye off the ball” of the main threat.

    There is no poll evidence yet to test public reaction and the key issue is how Bush and Kerry play it this weekend. Our view is that it will just reinforce opinion on either side.

The off-shore Tradesports exchange initially went to Bush 55 Kerry 45 but that has now come back quite a lot and is now trading at not much more than before the Osama video. The Iowa Electronic Exchange market has had a bigger move from Kerry but, as the Economist points out this week, investors on this market can only risk relatively small sums and so the price might not be quite as sensitive.

The volatile UK Betfair exchange moved sharply to Bush and is now coming back a bit.

Betting round up – 5.30 am BST Saturday
Bush 52.5 Kerry 47.5Iowa Political Futures Market
Bush 53.5 Kerry 46.5 Tradesports exchange
Bush 1.81 Kerry 2.18 Betfair exchange
Bush 8/11Kerry 23/20 UK bookmaker best price


Five reasons why we think Kerry will win

Friday, October 29th, 2004

    Get your money on while there’s still value

George Bush and John Kerry go into the final weekend of the 2004 Campaign with the polls, the betting and the electoral vote prediction on a knife edge.

    It should be hard to call but we are sticking with our long-standing view that more Americans want to get rid of George Bush than want to keep him.

The Democrats are more hyped up even than the religous right (above). They still feel cheated by the 2000 result when Gore won the popular vote and there was the Florida counting debacle and will work harder to win on Tuesday.

The turnout is going to be high which traditionally helps the Democrats. Voter registration has been at record levels; 40m more Americans watched the TV debate compared with 2000; and unprecedented numbers have asked for absentee ballots to be certain of their vote.

US polls have a tendency to over-state the Republicans. This happened in the 2000 race when the majority of final surveys went to Bush- he lost the popular vote. This time the polls are more even which should be a boost for Kerry.

Iraq continues to be bad news. The longer the difficulties have gone on the more the question marks over the President’s strategy when it’s now admitted that Saddam Hussain had nothing to do with 9/11. This reinforces the antis and depresses the Bush supporters.

Kerry has not been as bad as some feared. The debates gave Kerry the chance to appear presidential and dispel the impression of him as a wind-bag. He’s still riding on those successes.

Betting round up – 9.15 pm BST
Bush 52.8 Kerry 47.2 Iowa Political Futures Market
Bush 51.5 Kerry 48.5 Tradesports exchange
Bush 1.88 Kerry 2.12 Betfair exchange
Bush 8/11Kerry 11/10 UK bookmaker best price

The Iowa Electronic Exchange had it to Bush on popular votes in 2000.

Polling round-up showing variance of margin on last poll
Bush 50 Kerry 45 Fox Kerry +2
Bush 47 Kerry 49 DCorps n/c
Bush 47 Kerry 47 Zogby tracking Kerry +1
Bush 46 Kerry 46 TIPP tracking Kerry +3
Bush 49 Kerry 48 Bush +2

Thus three out of five new national polls have positive moves for Kerry; one is no change, and the other see a move to Bush.


Could these boxes decide the election?

Friday, October 29th, 2004

    Sharp move to Kerry after Iraq explosives video

Betting on the US election on both sides of the Atlantic has taken a sharp turn to John Kerry after ABC News screen a video (above) purporting to show US troops with the missing Iraqi explosives nine days after Baghdad fell.

The pro-War former Bush supporter and Sunday Times columnist, Andrew Sullivan, describes it like this – What we’re seeing is the slow exposure of the reality of the Iraq war. No: not the incompetence of the soldiers. The incompetence of the president. He’s responsible. And this time, he cannot duck it.

When the news first broke (see previous article) it was on the UK betting exchange, Betfair, where punters reacted first taking the Bush price to above evens. The US-focused Iowa Electronic Exchange and Tradesports followed an hour or so later. Bush is still below evens in all markets – but not by very much and his price seems to be being propped up by punters consolidating their positions.

    A lot now depends on how the two campaigns play this new situation. The Kerry team will be arguing that this destroys the Bush case of the past few weeks that only under him are Americans safe. The first move by Bush supporters has been to cast doubt on the film’s veracity.

But the news comes as the polls and betting generally were moving towards the Democrat ticket.

Betting round up
Bush 51.8 Kerry 48.2 Iowa Political Futures Market
Bush 51.5 Kerry 48.5 Tradesports exchange
Bush 1.84 Kerry 2.16 Betfair exchange


Punters shun Bush after Iraq explosives revelations

Thursday, October 28th, 2004

Betfair Bush UPDATED – 0200 BST Friday

There’ve been big moves against George Bush on the Betfair betting exchange following revelations on ABC TV that one of its crews had filmed the missing explosives in Iraq nine days after the fall of the country. This starts.

The strongest evidence to date indicates that conventional explosives missing from Iraq’s Al-Qaqaa installation disappeared after the United States had taken control of Iraq.

Barrels inside the Al-Qaqaa facility appear on videotape shot by ABC television affiliate KSTP of St. Paul, Minn., which had a crew embedded with the 101st Airborne Division when it passed through Al-Qaqaa on April 18, 2003 — nine days after Baghdad fell.

At one stage the Bush price on Betfair reached evens but then it settled down a bit. Perhaps this is due to the lack of response on the US markets to the news.

    It is not often that punters in the UK have been more reactive than those in the US.

More than $5m has now been matched on the White House race on the UK betting exchange Betfair. Add on the $8m that the conventional bookmakers are predicting and then factor in the spread betting markets and you get $15m – the UK’s biggest foreign political betting market ever. The interest has never been as great.

The ABC news story followed a day of stalemate. There’ve been new polls showing the same split view as of the past few days and on the betting markets the move to Kerry has held but little progress has been made.

For a good users guide to the pollsters check out this feature on Slate.

The latest polls are:-
Bush 46 Kerry 49 DCorps. Kerry +1
Bush 48 Kerry 46 Zogby daily tracking. Bush +1
Bush 47 Kerry 44 Tipp tracking Kerry +1
Bush 48 Kerry 49 ABC/WP . No change

Betting round up
Bush 53 Kerry 47 Iowa Political Futures Market
Bush 55 Kerry 45 Tradesports exchange
Bush 8/11 Kerry 6/5 UK best prices

With four full days to go we are sticking with the call on John Kerry that we made here on May 18. It is going to be tight and nothing is certain but all the signs are that those opposed to the President are motivated that bit more than those who want to give George Bush a second term.


Who’ll benefit from Robert Kilroy-Silk’s UKIP split?

Thursday, October 28th, 2004

Given the impact that the rise of UKIP has had on UK politics in the past six months any move or split within the party has to be taken seriously. With both Labour and the Tories polling in the 30s small shifts in support could have a huge impact on the General Election.

    Yesterday’s ICM poll recorded support for UKIP up 1% at 4%. With its most public figure calling his party “barmy” then any reduction in the national support could benefit the Tories and also the Lib Dems which suffered from the UKIP surge in the Euro elections in the West Country.

There’s also the issue of Kilroy-Silk’s plan to stand for a Westminster seat at the General Election. Will he now be able to do this under the UKIP banner? If he can’t it will reduce drastically the media coverage that the party will command.

At the 2001 General Election UKIP recorded 1.5%. It is hard to see that rising much and this will benefit the Tories who before the UKIP May surge had started to build a recovery and were even talking of taking 42% of the vote in the Euro Elections . It will also help the Lib Dems to retain and perhaps add to their seat tally in Devon and Cornwall.

From the betting perspective it might be worth a UKIP sell on the spread markets. IG have them at 1-1.8 seats and it’s hard to see that they could make even one gain without Kilroy-Silk. SportingIndex have suspended their price on UKIP seats. If they come back on at one or more then it will look like a good bet.

    The IG spread of 202-210 seats on the Tories starts to look good value for a buy.

This is reinforced by a new ICM feature. They now ask “Which of the folllowing best describes you – “I always vote in General Elections”; “I almost always vote…”; “I sometimes vote” etc. The “always” figure from Tory voters was 64% against 55% for Labour. To the “likely to vote on scale of 1 to 10” question the Tories had the same proportion with the top score – 64% but Labour rose to 60%. The difference might be one of the explanations why polls mostly overstate Labour.

Full round-up of political markets.