Archive for October, 2004


Will the pollsters be as wrong as they were in 2000?

Friday, October 22nd, 2004


    Is the pro-Bush bias repeating itself?

With a daily diet of more than thirty new state and national polls predicting very different outcomes the big betting decisions are going to be based on which polling organisations have got it right. To guide us these were the final polls from 2000 to test against the actual result – which had Bush and Gore on 48% each.

SEVEN final national polls had Bush upto 5% ahead. WRONG
TWO final polls showed Bush & Gore level. RIGHT
TWO final polls showed Gore upto 2% ahead. WRONG – but Gore did get most votes.

Site users don’t need reminding that Gore won on the popular vote but Bush got most electoral votes.

2000 White House Race Final Polls

  • Zogby Gore 48% Bush 46%. Pro-Gore 2%
  • CBS Gore 45% Bush44% (-4%) Pro-Gore 1%
  • Harris (Phone) Gore 47% Bush47% Even
  • Gallup/CNN/USA Today Gore 46% Bush48% Pro-Bush 2%
  • Pew Research Gore 47% Bush49% Pro-Bush 2%
  • IBD/CSM/TIPP Gore 46% Bush 48% Pro-Bush 2%
  • ICR/Politics Now Gore 44% Bush46% Pro-Bush 2%
  • NBC/WSJ Gore 44% Bush47% Pro-Bush 3%
  • ABC/WashPost Gore 45% Bush48% Pro-Bush 3%
  • Battleground Gore 45% Bush50% Pro-Bush 5%
  • Harris Interactive Gore 47% Bush 47% Even
  • There are different pollster this time and many more surveys are taking place. Today’s national polls are here.

    The UK prices and Tradesports have moved a notch to Bush. Iowa has moved a bit back to Kerry.

  • Iowa exchange Kerry 41.7 – Bush 58.3
  • Tradesports bettting exchange Bush 60 Kerry 40
  • UK prices Bush 8/15 Kerry 8/5.
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    Get 5/1 on Osama being captured and Bush winning

    Thursday, October 21st, 2004


      Will the world’s most wanted man be found before election day?

    For months people have speculated and joked that the icing on the cake of George Bush’s re-election campaign would be the capture of Osama Bin Laden – surprise, surprise – a few days before November 2.

    There’s even been a healthy betting market on the possibility. Tradesports – the Irish betting exchange that is focused on the US – has had a market for nearly a year on “Osama bin Laden being neutralized by Nov 2nd and GW Bush to win the election”. The current pricing is 5/1 that both events will happen or 24/1 that they won’t.

    We’ve been monitoring this market over the past few weeks to spot signs of unusual activity. If this was a possiblity then it’s likely that someone in the know would try to profit from the knowledge and this would move the price. This has not happened – but it could.

    The bookmaker does not define what being neutralized means though it is fairly clear. Unless you have specific information then neither of the prices appears attractive.

    Tradesports also have a market on, in effect, whether there will be a September 11-type terrorist attack in the US prior to the election. This market is defined as Homeland Security Alert to be Red on Nov 02 and GW Bush to win election. The current price is about 14/1 on these two happening and 25/1 on them not.

      If you started betting heavily on this there’s the risk that some funny policeman would be knocking down your front door in a pre-dawn raid.

    A couple of years ago the CIA came up with a plan to establish betting markets on terrorism – the idea being that if someone knows somrthing then there’s always the possibility that they will try to profit from it.


  • New York Times Kerry 225 – Bush 213
  • Real Clear Politics Bush 227 – Kerry 206
  • Slate Kerry 271 – Bush 267.
  • Electoral-vote Kerry 271 – Bush 257
  • Iowa exchange Kerry 42.3 – Bush 57.7
  • Tradesports bettting exchange Bush 60 Kerry 40
  • UK prices Bush 8/15 Kerry 6/4.
  • Dead Heat bet. 269 electoral votes each – 20/1
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    We are sticking with our Kerry call

    Wednesday, October 20th, 2004


    We first called for John Kerry in mid-May and we stick with that. We had a little wobble in the period after the Republican Convention and before the TV debates but we now firmly believe that the Democratic ticket is good value at current prices.

      The 8/5 you can now get on Kerry is out of proportion to the risk that he will lose.

    With new state and national polls coming out almost by the hour it’s getting hard to keep track of who is going to win the most electoral votes a week on Tuesday. This analysis of the latest polls on Slate gives further support to those who believe that George Bush is going to following in the footsteps of his father and be a one-term President.

    A huge amount of comment and information is available in the blogsphere and we like the Mystery Pollster for his expert guide to how the polls are shaping up and what is important and what you can disregard.

      In the UK the bookmakers are predicting that record amounts will be wagered on the outcome of November 2nd.

    William Hill reckon it will be £5m. We think that that is a gross underestimate because for the first time the betting exchanges are a major part of the market and as of time of posting nearly £2.5 million of bets had been matched on the Betfair alone and this is rising by hundreds of thousands of pounds every day.

    Summing up the race in a commentary on its latest poll the New York Times had this to say:-

    Two weeks before Election Day, voters hold a sharply critical view of President Bush’s record in office, but they have strong reservations about Senator John Kerry, leaving the race in a tie, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll. Mr. Bush’s job approval rating is at 44 percent, a dangerously low number for an incumbent president, and one of the lowest of his tenure. A majority of voters said that they disapproved of the way Mr. Bush had managed the economy and the war in Iraq, and – echoing a refrain of Mr. Kerry’s – that his tax cuts had favored the wealthy. Voters said that Mr. Kerry would do a better job of preserving Social Security, creating jobs and ending the war in Iraq. But a majority of Americans continue to see Mr. Kerry as an untrustworthy politician who will say what he thinks people want to hear. More than half of respondents said they considered him liberal, reflecting a dominant line of attack by Mr. Bush this fall.

    American punters on the Tradesports exchange have it to Bush by 59-41. The UK price has moved a notch to Bush.

    At this stage four years ago the polls were more clearly for Bush than they are for the President now. Yet Al Gore went on to win it on the popular vote but Bush won on the electoral vote.


    Could Michael Howard win by conceding that he will lose?

    Wednesday, October 20th, 2004


      Will the Tories’s new Campaign Chief adopt his winning Australian strategies?

    The appointment of the Australian campaigning guru, Lynton Crosby, as the Conservative’s Election campaign director should cause all political gamblers to look closely at their General Election betting.

    For Crosby was the strategist behind the remarkable campaign in 1996 when the Australian Liberal party pulled off a surprise victory in the General Election there by all but conceding that the party had no chance of beating the Government of the then Labour Prime Minister, Paul Keating.

    Instead the Crosby campaign urged the voters to “send Keating a message”. Substitute “UK Conservative Party” for “Australian Liberal Party” and “Tony Blair” for “Paul Keating” and you might have the basis of an interesting General Election strategy.

      The circumstances are very similar. Nobody believes that the Tories have any hope of victory and Michael Howard simply does not sound credible when making any assertion that the party could form the next Government.

    Yet there’s a big question mark in many people’s mind over Tony Blair and the mathematics are nothing like as good for Labour as received opinion in the “Westminster Village” would have it. It does not take that many voters to switch or abstain from voting Labour for all the thinking to be turned on its head. And if the polls are as wrong as the 6.6% overstatement of the Labour margin in 2001 then the contest could be very open. This followed a 3.5% overstatement in 1997 and the appalling polling performance of 1992 when not one survey predicted that the Tories were ahead – never mind Major’s eventual 8% margin.

    Everybody is mesmerised by the 2001 General Election result that gave Labour so many more seats in terms of votes cast than in virtually any other General Election ever. The whole mood is determined by what happened on June 7 2001.

      What Crosby will do is help the Conservatives create a rhetoric that matches the public mood – and who knows – could 05/05/05 see a sensational result?

    There’s been almost no movement in the General Election spread betting markets. These are the latest prices – remembering that Tony Blair needs 324 seats to secure a certain majority.

    Sporting Index LAB 338-346: CON 202-210: LIBD 72-77
    IG Index: LAB 338-346: CON 208-216: LIBD 70-75

    In spite of Mr. Crosby’s arrival we do not see any value in selling or buying any of the parties. If you want to back the Tories there is no compelling reason why you should do it now rather than much nearer the date. Watch and wait.

    The best bookmaker price on Labour winning most seats is 1/6. Risking £60 to win £10 is not a good value bet.



    Prime Minister Boris Johnson – the money goes on!

    Tuesday, October 19th, 2004


      Will he make it to Number 10 within a decade?

    After the row over the comments about Liverpudlians in the Specator, the magazine that he edits, the Tory MP, Boris Johnson, has been backed to become Prime Minister on or before December 31, 2014 with William Hill at 66/1.

    There’s also money going on him 25/1 with Hills and 33/1 with PaddyPower to become the next Leader of the Conservative Party. ‘We have been a little surprised to take several bets for Boris, both to lead his Party and the country, in recent days’ said a William Hill spokesman.

      It’s not clear how many of the punters are Merseysiders!

    The price seems quite generous but like all these very long-term bets the main beneficiary is the bookie who gets the chance to hold onto your money for, in this case, perhaps more than ten years.

    The next Tory leader looks like being an interesting bet especially if the party does as badly as many are predictiing and Michael Howard decides to take an early bath. We cannot see Boris getting it just yet although there is no doubt that he would be popular.

      But would he have the gravitas to appear Prime Ministerial? In a different way that was always John Major’s problem – he never quite looked the part.

    Boris does have one feature that Michael Howard lacks and seems a pre-requisite for winning party leaders at UK General Elections – he went to Oxford University. In the sixteen General Elections since the 1939-45 war fourteen have been won by parties led by Oxford graduates. The other two – Winston Churchill in 1951 and John Major in 1992 – did not go to university. If Michael Howard did lead the Tories to victory he would be the first Cambridge-educated politician to do it since Stanley Baldwin in 1935.

    Another Oxford-educated politician who might just make it to Downing Street is John Prescott – he was at the trade union college, Ruskin.



    How dangerous is the Iraq troop move for Labour?

    Tuesday, October 19th, 2004


      Will Bush try to capitalise on Britain’s move?

    Tony Blair must be praying that George Bush does not seek to make political capital out of the planned British troop move to support US forces in the north of Iraq.

      The idea that British lives might be at risk to help get Bush re-elected could damage the Prime Minister and Labour enormously.

    A sign of the level of unease was seen in the frosty response that Labour MPs gave to the Defence Secetrary, Geoff Hoon after he had said that the UK ‘has duty to redeploy troops’ . Tuesday’s Independent reports the following:-

    Furious Labour politicians warned Tony Blair last night that they had drawn a line in the sand over the American request for the deployment of more British troops. Previously loyal MPs who had supported Mr Blair in the vote on the war in Iraq said: “This far, and no further.”Government whips reported back to Mr Blair of their alarm at the change of mood on the Labour back benches. “The worm has turned,” said one anti-war Labour MP.

    On a straight party political basis the emotional aspect of UK forces serving under US command gives an opening to the Tories to criticise the Government on Iraq – something they’ve found hard to do because of IDS’s blind support for Blair. The move puts Iraq back at the top of the news and the worry expressed by one Labour MP after another that the country is getting deeper into something from which it will become harder to get out could add to Blair’s overall worries.

    With Bush facing suggestions that the draft might have to be re-introduced the news that Britain might help could deal with two tricky elections issues – the Kerry claim the Bush has made America isolated and the never-ending demand for US resources.

      The long-term problem for Blair is that it emphasises the extent to which Blair always seems to do Bush’s bidding.

    If the story continues to top the news then the Tony Blair markets rather than the main General Election ones could be affected. These include the Labour leadership, when Blair will go and the party leaders. So far the spread and standard General Election markets have been unmoved. If the row continues then Labour might fall down a notch on the spread markets.

    The October opinion polls – ICM, MORI and YouGov – might pick up a change of mood and any fall-back for Labour would be market sensitive.

    Latest White House race prices.


    Is Gordon Brown worth 1/3 for the Labour leadership?

    Monday, October 18th, 2004

    borwn blair

      Forget the bookie – you are better off with the building society?

    Even though Tony Blair has made it clear that he will only step down after he’s served another full term there’s a healthy market on who will replace him.

    Acording to this time-table it will be 2008 or 2009 before the Blairs move from Downing Sttreet to their new house in Connaught Square but the price of Gordon Brown being the successor is a staggering 1/3. That’s with William Hill – the PaddyPower odds are 1/4. So for locking in, say, £100 now, you could have to wait for nearly five more years for winnings of just £25 and your stake back

      To show how ridiculous this is the same money invested in a Nationwide Building Society ISA bond at 5.15% would produce a return to you of £28.54 plus your £100 back with almost total security!

    So taking into account the “cost” of the money required for the bet the PaddyPower price is a negative while the William Hill one works out at 1/33. No option in a market should be at 1/3 when you may have to wait five years.

    On top of that you have to add on the risk that Brown might not make it after all. The Chancellor is now the man to beat and as time passes others will start to see themselve as possible leaders and will judge Brown in a different light. He might have had total control of the economy for more than seven years but he has built up plenty of enemies out there. While a Michael Howard-type accession might have been possible if Tony Blair had, as reported at the famous Admiralty Arch dinner, gone this summer. In 2008 or whenever there is certain to be a contest.

    Second favourite is Alan Milburn at 11/2; David Blunkett and Jack Straw are at 20/1. They even mark Ken Livingstone at 250/1 and he is not even an MP!

    Far better if you want to bet on the Labour leadership is on when Tony Blair will leave Downing Street. The 3/1 on him going at any time in 2004 or 2005 covers you for the possible consquences of a wide range of events – his health failing; Labour not winning a majority at the Election; Labour losing; Blair being ousted in his Sedgefield seat; Blair realising that he is an electoral liability to Labour; Gordon Brown being brave enough to mount a coup etc.



    Kerry noses ahead in electoral vote calculation

    Sunday, October 17th, 2004

    kerry things

      Kerry moves up in state polls but down in the national ones

    In spite of a run of poor national polls the Kerry-Edwards campaign has today edged ahead of Bush in the latest estimate of electoral votes based on the most recent state polls.

    A new poll in the key swing state of Wisconsin shows that Kerry has overturned a 5% Bush lead and is now 1% ahead. The excellent puts the challenger ahead by the narrowest of margins – 253 to 247. This contrasts sharply with the round-up of national polls, one of which is giving it to Bush by 6%.

    The three main betting markets are now all looking at this differently:-

  • The UK price has been moving just a little to Bush.
  • Tradesports, the US focused betting exchange, gives it to Bush by 54-46.
  • The Iowa Electronic Market now has it at Bush 59 Kerry 41.
  • The Sunday Times columnist and blogger, Andrew Sullivan, is predicting a very high turn-out and notes:-

    First off, John Kerry is not such a dreadful candidate. For an awfully long time he appeared to be running an execrable campaign, throwing staffers out on a regular basis, struggling to find a message, appearing utterly aloof and unlikeable, easily tagged, in the words of one right-wing blogger, as “a haughty French-looking senator who, by the way, served in Vietnam”. But this surface haplessness belied an extremely successful money operation and a secret weapon: his debating skill. Unlike George W Bush, Kerry spent the year campaigning. He had honed his message, relearnt how to explain his policies and was poised to kill in the first debate. I had assumed ahead of time that Bush would do to Kerry what he had done to Al Gore: out-charm and out-humanise him. But this time Kerry’s deep voice, calm delivery and relentless marshalling of facts simply bulldozed Bush

    We can expect a tense and exciting final two weeks.