Archive for October, 2004


Bush price easing – Kerry price tightening

Wednesday, October 27th, 2004

Betfair George Bush – UPDATED 8am BST Thursday

With the two daily tracking polls showing further movement to Kerry there’s been a big push on the betting markets in his direction. The TIPP daily survey has moved from a 6% Bush lead to a 4% one while Zogby’s tracking number has moved from a 3% Bush lead to a margin of just one point.

The chart above shows how the £3m Betfair betting exchange market has moved and the trend is firmly in the challenger’s direction. It’s the same picture on the Iowa political futures exchange which now has it Kerry 46.3 to Bush 52.7 . On the Tradesports exchange it is Bush 53 Kerrry 47

The best UK prices are now 6/5 on Kerry and 4/6 on Bush.

The William Hill market on both men getting 269 electoral votes each has seen quite a lot of activity and the price has moved in from 20/1 to 16/1.

Back Kerry to win in Colorado. The latest poll has it 49-47 to the Democrat and you can get 9/4 on the Betfair exchange or 2/1 with a normal bookie.


How the Tories could win with a 7% poll deficit

Wednesday, October 27th, 2004

We publish this article not because we think that it will happen but to demonstrate how with support for the two main parties in the 30s a totally different dynamic will apply at the next election and issues like polling accuracy and the tactical unwind will become even more critical. Last time Labour was so far ahead that inflated leads did not matter. Now they do.

Today’s ICM poll in the Guardian – LAB 37% CON 31% LIBD 23% – should make quite welcome reading for Tony Blair. But if it is as accurate as the final week survey that they did for the Evening Standard and published on the Tuesday before the 2001 General Election then on a uniform swing calculation Labour is 23 seats short of a majority.

CON 34.7% LAB 32% LIBD 22.8% ICM October poll with June 2001 “corrections”
LAB 301 CON 255 LIBD 59 seats Martin Baxter uniform national swing seat calculator
LAB 284 CON 289 LIBD 44 seats. Andy Cooke tactical unwind seat projection.

Of course we think the Cooke projection underestimates the Lib Dems and this analysis is grossly unfair to ICM. They did two polls in the final week in 2001 and the second one was more accurate – though it still under-stated the Tories and over-stated Labour. But the Standard survey had a much bigger sample and the interviewing started at the same time so should have been more accurate.

    In the past five weeks the Labour’s poll share has been all over the place – down as low as 28% and as high as 39% – while the Lib Dem and Tory figures have been much more stable. Labour seems to do much better with ICM, the Lib Dems seem to get better ratings from Populus and YouGov tended to show higher Tory shares until UKIP emerged in the early summer.

What this mean is that risk-averse gamblers, particularly on the spread markets, should proceed with extreme caution. We believe that there will be money to be made because the pollsters are not infallible and that there will be an element of tactical unwind. There is no point in betting at the moment – only move if the spread prices move in a totally perverse way as they did after the July by-elections.

Sporting Index LAB 338-346: CON 202-210: LIBD 72-77 (No change)
IG Index: LAB 338-346: CON 208-216: LIBD 71-75 (No change)

We also believe that the Labour price of 1/6 to win most seats should be avoided. The party is highly likely to come out on top but the risks are greater than the returns at this price.


Three out of five polls give it to Kerry

Wednesday, October 27th, 2004

Three of the latest five national opinion polls on the White House race have Kerry in the lead according to the new round-up just out. The polls are:

Kerry 49 Bush 47 – DCorps
Kerry 46 Bush 49 – Zogby
Kerry 49 Bush 48 – ABC
Kerry 50 Bush 48 – Washington Post
Kerry 43 Bush 49 – TIPP

The latest electoral vote calculations based on state polls have it Kerry 247 to Bush 286. The score-chart has it Bush 276 Kerry 262. Almost all of the surveys involved took place earlier than the national polls.

Betting has also been heavy for Kerry on the US focused betting exchange, Tradesports, where it’s now Bush 55.5 – Kerry 44.5. More money has been going on there being a prolonged legal wrangle before the result is known. It’s now about 7/2 compared with 4/1 three days ago.

The best UK prices are 13/10 on Kerry and 4/6 on Bush.


Clinton boost pushes Kerry up in the betting

Tuesday, October 26th, 2004

With three new national polls puting Bush aread, two giving it to Kerry, and one recording a tie the race for the White House is on a knife-edge. The big problem for the Democrats is that one of the polls has an 8% Bush lead while another has it at 5%. The two polls showing Kerry ahead put the margin at 1%.

There’s no doubt that Bill Clinton’s entry into the campaign has been a boost for Kerry and this is reflected in the betting prices. The best UK odds are now down to 13/10 on Kerry. A decline for Kerry on the Iowa “political futures exchange” has been arrested by the news.

The Tradesports betting exchange has moved sharply to Kerry with the challenger 43.5 to Bush’s 56.5.

The electoral vote calculations are swinging to and fro between the two contestants. Both Slate and Electoral-Vote now have the president just ahead.

    We are sticking by our call of last week that any price above 11/10 on Kerry is good value.

For the candidates the stakes could not be higher and in all, both campaigns are spending nearly $40 million on TV ads in the final week of the campaign. This comes on top of the $15om that has already been spent. What’s been fascinating is how each swing state’s electoral arranemgents has come under the microscope. This is from Slate on Iowa.

Perhaps the most unusual electoral feature of Iowa is how absurdly easy it is to cast a ballot here. Want to vote absentee? No problem. Can’t wait for Election Day? Early satellite voting stations have been open since Sept. 23. Can’t be bothered to drop your postage-paid absentee ballot in the mailbox? They’ve got that covered, too. The parties will send state-licensed “couriers” to your living room to pick up the ballot and take it to the county auditor’s office for you.

With all these options, Iowans vote early in large numbers. This year, as many as 35 percent may cast their ballots before Nov. 2. And that can make a huge difference. In 2000, George Bush won the votes actually cast on Election Day. But when the early ballots were added in, Al Gore narrowly took the state. (He won by a little over 4,000 votes, but both campaigns this year motivate their troops by putting it another way: Gore prevailed by just two votes per precinct.) Voting may be a little too easy in Iowa. It takes just a few hundred signatures to force your county to open an early voting station (for what’s oxymoronically called “absentee voting in person”) at your preferred location. These have included churches on Sundays and now union halls, meaning these groups can preach “non-partisanly” to the converted and then show them to the polling booths.

But it’s the courier system that seems most amazing, and potentially alarming, to a jaded outsider. I tagged along with Ann Sokolowski, a volunteer courier for the Kerry-Edwards campaign in Des Moines, as she drove around collecting absentee ballots from fellow Democrats. We were welcomed into the kitchen of Ed and Rosa Walker, an older couple who can’t make it to the polls because of health problems. They happily chattered about why they were voting for Kerry, and then handed over their absentee ballots to Sokolowski. She carefully avoided giving them any voting advice, which would be against the law. Then she plopped the ballots in a plastic shopping bag and we moved on.

With only six days remaining £2.9m has been matched on the UK-based Betfair betting exchange. Add this to the conventional bookmakers and the spread betting firms and we estimate that something like £10m will be wagered in the country on this single contest.


Are the Tories still in their post-Hartlepool rut?

Monday, October 25th, 2004


    Or will they benefit from the UKIP leadership hiatus?

After almost three weeks without any UK national polls ICM, MORI and YouGov should be out in the next few days hopefully giving a clearer view of what the public is thinking than surveys taken at party conference time. Four years ago the end-October/early November surveys proved to be a good pointer to the election result the following June. Will the same happen this time?

  • The Tories. Are they still in their post-Hartlepool rut or have the ructions over the UKIP leadership come to Michael Howard’s aid? The new polls should tell us.
  • Labour. How damaging has the “Black Watch” deployment row been especially as it’s kept Iraq on the front pages? Will be party still be bleeding votes to the Lib Dems or are the public getting bored – both issues that the next three or four polls should help us with?
  • The Lib Dems. With Charles Kennedy and his team now being treated more seriously by the media will their poll ratings still remain high or will the by-election bounces have frittered away?
  • UKIP. Will the party still be benefitting from their 3rd place in Hartlepool or could Robert Kilroy-Silk’s struggle to seize control be a turn-off with the voters? It’s not just the Tories who’ll be watching the poll ratings closely.
  • These were the last main polls against which the new surveys should be compared.
    ICM (Oct 10) CON 30% LAB 39% LD 23%
    Populus (Oct 2) CON 28% LAB 35% LD25%
    YouGov (Oct 2) CON 29% LAB 35% LD22%
    MORI (Sep 14) CON 33% LAB 32% LD25%

    The key numbers will be the Tory shares. If the Tories have not clawed back 3-4% with ICM – figures due on Wednesday – then Michael Howard’s party is in real trouble. Same goes with YouGov which until May was showing solid Tory leads. Michael Howard needs to be eating into that 6% deficit if he is to have a chance. With each poll it’s not the actual rating we look at but whether there’s been a change and whether that is reflected across a range of surveys.

      Our prediction is that the polls will show Labour – down a bit; the LDs almost level, and the Tories making some progress. The next call we expect to make will be BUY CONSERVATIVE on the spread markets but it will take solid polling evidence before we move that far.

    The betting has been stable for weeks. These are the latest spread prices.

    Sporting Index LAB 338-346: CON 202-210: LIBD 72-77 (No change)
    IG Index: LAB 338-346: CON 208-216: LIBD 70-75 (No change)

    After the July by-elections Labour surged to 346-354 – a level we said was a good SELL. At the moment we see no value in any of the spreads.


    Could this man change the way we look at the General Election?

    Sunday, October 24th, 2004


      Martin Baxter is considering incorporating the tactical vote question

    The former Cambridge and City maths expert, Martin Baxter, (above) has announced on his site that he is considering trying to embrace an element on tactical voting within his famous Commons Seat Calculator.

    Over the years Martin has built up a formidable reputation with his calculator which is now the authoritive source for people wanting to work out what different vote shares mean in terms of Commons seats. His site also contains a wonderful array of facts and figures as well as a very useful “poll of polls” which is regularly updated.

    But with a very different sort of General Election in prospect many, including Politicalbetting, have been questioning whether taking the latest poll figures and applying them on a uniform national swing basis will be an accurate guide to the coming contest. We have argued here that there are two enormous chinks in the Baxter figures.

  • By appyling poll changes to the status quo they assume that anti-Tory tactical voting will continue on exactly the same scale as last time
  • They asssume that the Lib Dems will take no more seats than the simple mathematics of the poll swing identfies.
  • There has been a lot of discussion here on how you work out the tractical vote unwind issue. If the Lib Dem supporters who went with Labour last time return to their allegiance then the Tories could make gains even if their vote remains static. Andy Cooke, a site user, produced his own spreadsheer to model this (see links this page) and others have been working on the issue.

    If Martin Baxter introduces this element into his calculator then it would command enormous authority and could affect the received opinion of the Westminster village. He tells me that he has yet to have that “Eureka moment” about how this can be done – let’s hope that he is able to do something because it will be an important addition to the resources available.

      A Martin Baxter tactical vote unwinder would have an impact on the betting markets.

    With all the focus on the US Election there’s been almost no activity on the UK General Election markets. That might change during this week with a crop of opinion polls due that might see some move against Labour following the row over the Black Watch deployment in Iraq.


    Could the White House Race be decided here?

    Sunday, October 24th, 2004

    supreme courtcnn

      Get 4/1 on a prolonged legal battle

    With the White House race on a knife-edge you can now bet on whether we’ll have to wait until December 13 or beyond before the result is certified. If the result is as close as predicted then we could have a repetiton of 2000 when pro-longed legal wrangles over Florida finally ended in the Supreme Court (above).

    Tradesports – the Irish betting exchange that serves the US – is offering punters to trade in the proposition that the result will not be known for six weeks. The prices are moderately tempting. 4/1 that there will be a battle in the courts that will go on until December 13 and 3/20 that there won’t.

    With voting machines still not working properly in parts of Florida, claims of election fraud in the swing-state of Ohio, and a complex retrospective referendum in Colorado that could mean that the state’s electoral votes are divided in line with votes cast instead of winner takes all and we have all the elements of prolonged litigation.

      It all depends whether the result is close. If there is a clear winner then all the talk of legal challenges will go away.

    The Kerry campaign is said to have signed up 10,000 lawyers to be on duty on November 2nd. The Republicans have registered hundreds of volunteers in Ohio to challenge voters’ credentials and, meanwhile, some are questioning whether the system itself is constitutional. This from today’s Independent on Sunday:-

    The most disconcerting possibility is that the highest court in the land could remove the electoral process from the voters altogether and turn it over to the state legislatures. Technically, they can do this under Article II of the Constitution, which offers no automatic right to vote. We know from the deliberations in 2000 that two, possibly five, of the nine justices have doubts whether the people should be the ultimate arbiters of presidential elections – a strict, literal reading of the Constitution that no modern Supreme Court countenanced before the current crop of ultra-conservatives. “After granting the franchise in the special context of Article II,” the majority declared in its Bush vs Gore ruling, “[the state] can take back the power to appoint electors.” Were this scenario to play out it would leave the fate of many of the electoral battlegrounds in the hands of Republican-controlled state legislatures (in Florida and Ohio, for starters), who would promptly hand the election to George Bush. Talk about a nightmare scenario – which is why every elections official and every “small d” democrat in the land is praying it won’t get that close.

    A price of 4/1 on this not being settled in six weeks – sounds quite good.

    POLLS. Three new national polls today showing small Bush leads.
    BETTING. The Iowa and Tradesports prices have moved to Kerry. The UK price is static.

  • Iowa exchange Kerry 42.2 – Bush 57.8. A half point move to Kerry.
  • Tradesports bettting exchange Bush 59 Kerry 41.
  • UK Prices. Bush 8/15 Kerry 8/5
  • And for those interested in locking up money for four years Tradesports are now taking bets on the 2008 race. The Democrats are favourites. If you are tempted to bet remember to factor in the cost of your money – maybe 20%.



    Is something happening with Osama?

    Sunday, October 24th, 2004


      The money piles on an early capture

    There been a lot of activity on the Tradesports market on Osama Bin Laden being found by the end of the year and it is now listed as the betting exchange’s fifth most traded contract. It comes after the White House race itself and three NFL matches.

    The price has tightened in the past day to less than 6/1 on him being “neutralised”. The lay price has also gone up to 15/2. The other Osama market linked to Bush being re-elected has remained static – though he would have to be found by a week on Tuesday and Bush to win for you to collect. Even so the price is 12/1.

    Is this in response to punters thinking that something might happen before the election? Is it in response to a rumour? Or is there some specific information? We do not know.

    The Iowa and Tradesports prices have moved to Kerry. The UK price is static.

  • Iowa exchange Kerry 42.2 – Bush 57.8. A half point move to Kerry.
  • Tradesports bettting exchange Bush 58 Kerry 42. This is a two point move back to Kerry.
  • UK prices Bush 8/15 Kerry 8/5. No change.
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