Archive for December, 2007


The Big PBC Prediction for 2008

Monday, December 31st, 2007


    Your chance to help predict the next 12 months

Instead of our usual prediction competition for 2008 we have “The Big PBC Prediction” where everybody is asked to give their views on a range of political and associated economic events.

Please fill in the questions below and let us see if our combined wisdom can get the next year right.

Also please can you write comments in the normal way on the thread below and not on the individual poll result pages.

Mike Smithson

Which party will win the 2008 White House Race?
A N Other
Who will be the Republican candidate for the 2008 White House Race?
Rudolph Giuliani
Mitt Romney
John McCain
Mike Huckabee
Ron Paul
A N Other
Who will be the Democratic candidate for the 2008 White House Race?
Hillary Clinton,
Barack Obama
John Edwards
A N Other
Who will win the 2008 London Mayoral Election?
Ken Livingstone
Boris Johnson
Brian Paddick
A N Other
What will be the outcome of the referendum in Ireland on the EU Treaty?
What will be the Conservative lead in the Guardian ICM poll in December 2008?
10% or more
A Labour lead of 1-4%
A Labour lead of 5% or more
What will be the Lib Dem share in the Guardian ICM poll in December 2008?
20% or more
Who will be leader of the Labour party on December 25th 2008?
Gordon Brown
David Miliband
Ed Balls
Jack Straw
A N Other
Who will be leader of the Conservative party on December 25th 2008?
David Cameron
David Davis
George Osborne
Liam Fox
William Hague
A N Other
Who will be leader of the Lib Dem party on December 25th 2008?
Nick Clegg
Chris Huhne
Vince Cable
A N Other
What will be the change in the Nationwide Building Society House Price Index during 2008?
Increase of 10% or more
Increase of 5.1-9.9%
Increase of 0-5%
Decrease of 0.1-5%
Decrease of 5.1-9.9%
Decrease of 10% or more
What will be the change in the Financial Times 100 Index during 2008?
Increase of 10% or more
Increase of 5.1-9.9%
Increase of 0-5%
Decrease of 0.1-5%
Decrease of 5.1-9.9%
Decrease of 10% or more


Who’ll do be best getting supporters out on Thursday?

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

iowa runners.JPG

Is anybody bold enough to call the Iowa caucuses?

Leaving aside the probability of a very major shock then the next resident of the White House will be one of the seven contenders featured above. And for each next Thursday night could be crucial. For one or two victory in their party’s caucuses is absolutely central if they are to stay in the race. For others a convincing performance could be a knock-out blow to other challengers.

  • But how can you call such a complex voting system where not only do you have to get your supporters out but they need to be involved in a public act, in many cases amongst friends and neighbours, in order to make a difference?

As we saw in 2004 with Howard Dean a candidate can go into the Iowa caucuses with big poll leads and come out in third place. It was that night that propelled John Kerry into a position where he quickly became unassailable. The contender in second place then, John Edwards, has clearly learned the lesson and has devoted himself almost totally for several years to his Iowa campaign.

What about Obama? Could Thursday night be the moment when he demonstrates that the colour of his skin will not be a handicap to electoral success? Again he has put everything in and the stakes are very high. If he does not win then his aim, surely, is to ensure that he is the only viable anti-Hillary candidate.

At the moment the latest polls have all three pretty close but with Hillary having a small lead. There’s one bit of good news for Obama and that is that some surveys have shown him ahead amongst those who have been to a caucus before. The bad news for him is that a lot of his support comes from the young who are the least likely to go through the bother of actually attending.

The GOP race is equally fascinating. Huckabee’s polling leads are being squeezed but he does have considerable support amongst the state’s evangelical Christian communities and my guess is that they are probably going to be more likely to caucus. For Romney a good performance is absolutely crucial.

In the betting Clinton and Giuliani remain the favourites.

Mike Smithson – The Political Website of the Year


Boost for Labour in new YouGov poll

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

Tory lead down to 5% but nearly 60% say Gord is doing badly

A new YouGov poll reported in the Sunday Times this morning has, with changes on the last survey by the pollster nearly a fortnight ago CON 40% (-3): LAB 35% (+4): LD 15% (-1).

There’s very little other information in the paper except that “six out of 10 people believe the prime minister is doing badly”. We don’t know when the poll was carried out or any other details. The shares for the main two parties are fairly similar to the ICM survey in the Guardian before Christmas which had C39-L34-LD18.

It is very unusual for a survey to be carried out bang in the middle of the Christmas holiday period and clearly Labour has benefited by the lack of bad news and the fact that the opposition parties have been relatively quiet. The media has been focussed elsewhere. There is a general theory as well that polling over holiday periods can be suspect because of the number of people who are away from home.

Over the past two years there has been a pretty close correlation between the amount of media coverage that Cameron has enjoyed and Tory party ratings. A key driver of the Brown polling bounce in the summer was that the Tories were almost totally blanked out of the news.

The Lib Dems might be a little disappointed to see their share drop particularly after their leader change. But choosing to have the election result announcement just as the holiday season was starting was always going to make it challenging for the new man to get coverage. Not smart – but typical of a party where having an effective media strategy is not seen as being terribly important.

One snippet of political news in the Observer suggests that Brown has “offered to hold talks with the new Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, on constitutional reform”. The report says that there’ll be a government paper on the subject next month.

This could pose a danger for Clegg – for if he is portrayed as getting too close to Gordon that could impede efforts to win back the party supporters who have switched to the Tories since the general election.

  • If the new poll leads to a move back to Labour on the commons spread betting markets on the number of seats I might start selling. This is the form of betting where the number of seats the parties will get at the next election are traded like stocks and shares. The great joy is that if your predictions are right then you can close down your position and cash in your profits immediately. There is no need to wait for the election itself.

Mike Smithson – The Political Website of the Year

book banner.gif


How much can you make from political betting?

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

    Guest slot by Peter the Punter

Ok, 2007 is all but over and it’s that time of year when all good punters cast a critical eye back over their records and ask themselves where it all went wrong. My own soul-searching takes very little time because it’s all too obvious. My total profit from Political Betting came to approximately £10,000, which is about £12,000 more than I made from the horses and other forms of gambling. Since the time and effort I put in to the latter far exceeds what goes into the former, no prizes for guessing where I’ll be redirecting my efforts next year.

    This of course raises some interesting questions, most notably… Just How Much Money Can You Make From Political Betting?

This is far from an academic question for me, so let me begin to answer it by giving a rough breakdown of my profits for the year:

Blair Switch £514
French Presidentials £880
Scottish & Welsh elections £400
Labour Deputy Leader £817
Next Chancellor £187
Australia £1,008
LD Leadership £246
Election date £193
Labour seat markets (non-election) £3,400
Miscellaneous 2,355

Total £10,000

The first thing to note is that this list covers nearly all the main political betting markets. The only one missing is Gordon Brown’s ‘election’ on which my profit of about £500 was wiped out by an ill-judged gamble on Charles Clarke (sic), so I netted out to zero on that one, but it was the one and only significant blot on the landscape. The rest was happiness.

Nor do the bare figures tell the whole story. If Blair had held on a few more days, I’d have doubled my ‘switch’ profits, and the Blessed Harriet cost me another £800 by getting home just ahead of The Postman. Moreover, some of these markets were often ‘all green’ which means I was operating in a virtually risk-free environment much of the time.

Nor was there enormous skill involved. Anybody able to log in regularly to might well have achieved similar results and I know for a fact that I am not alone amongst PBers in making this kind of profit. In fact the quality of information here, freely and for the most part honestly given, is such that if you can’t turn a profit, it really is time to quit betting altogether.

So why on earth do I bet on anything but politics? Well, there are some issues.

Markets are irregular and outside election years, the pickings are pretty thin. Liquidity is a major problem, although it’s improving. My loss on Big Ears was due in no small part to the fact that I held a sizeable chunk of all bets placed and couldn’t lay off without severely affecting the market price. This isn’t a problem I’m ever likely to encounter at the Cheltenham Festival.

And then there’s the question of who exactly we are betting against. There’s a real risk that as the Site becomes increasingly recognized as the fount of all knowledge on political betting, we finish up betting with each other. This happens to some extent already and was embarrassingly evident when we challenged Anthony Wells and the IG Index boys over their enterprising but short lived Political Brand Index market. We were too good for them, but there were not enough mugs to create a proper market.

A further issue that has cropped up recently is that we seem to be getting known. Mike now finds it almost impossible to get bets on with Sporting Index and another prominent PBer recently received a warning shot across his bows from one of the Majors. Sidney’s largesse continues unabated but we can’t expect that and similar generosity from his competitors to continue indefinitely. There are indications that the big firms are willing to treat political betting as a loss leader, but unless markets expand to bring in more players, and hopefully more mug-punters of the type that keep betting shops fully engaged, serious (i.e. good) political punters are bound to attract increasing attention.

My guess is that I may have pushed it about as far I can in terms of gross profit for a year but I like a challenge so I am going to set a target of £20,000 for 2008 – but not for myself, for

I intend to enlist the support of a couple of like-minded PBers and we’re going to start out with a notional bank of £20,000. Every time we see what we think is a decent bet, we’ll enter it on a score sheet which will be publicly available here on Site. The aim will be to double it by the year end. You can be sure that the notional bets will reflect the real ones which we are having, so if we get anywhere near the target, you can guess that we’re also doing very well thank you.

If anybody is interested in joining me in this venture, please let me know. It will also be interesting to know how you fared in 2007. Was it a profitable year for you too and if so how profitable? (And have you had any accounts closed yet?)

So come on, let’s have your tales – the good, the bad and the gruesome. How was it for you? And do you think you can beat the PB team in 2008? We’ll be posting our scores; don’t be shy about posting yours.

Happy New Year.

Peter Smith (Peter the Punter)


Will the winner be the one with the biggest war-chest?

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

ABC NewsIowa tv time.JPG

    Is Iowa down to a battle of money?

With just five days to go before the critical Iowa caucuses the heavyweight campaigns for the Democratic nominations are throwing everything at the state to ensure that their candidate comes out on top in the first test of opinion in the 2008 White House Race.

ABC News has been reporting overnight how Obama is trying to totally dominate the TV screens on Wednesday evening – on the night before the caucuses. One plan was to buy the time for a live broadcast on a range of channels.

The state has become critical for the three front runners – Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama and John Edwards who came second to John Kerry in Iowa four years ago. If Hillary can win on Thursday then it’s going to take a massive effort for any other contender to stop her. If she finishes in second or even third place then the race becomes less of a foregone conclusion.

It’s here where Obama’s great successes in fundraising might start to pay off. The received wisdom was that it was the element where the formidable Clinton team had total domination. That all changed earlier in the year and in the next few days in Iowa having deep pockets might be everything.

On the Politico site Jeanne Cummings had a good article a few days ago. Hillary, she says “was stung in March, however, when the little-known, first-term senator from Illinois reported raising a headline-grabbing $26 million. He passed her in the second quarter, raising $33 million compared with her $27 million. The Clinton camp came roaring back in the third quarter, raising $28 million to Obama’s $21 million, but her hard-won fundraising victory came too late to change the campaign’s dynamics.“If he hadn’t raised the money that he raised, his candidacy would not have become so serious so quickly,” said Tad Devine, a consultant for 2004 Democratic nominee John F. Kerry.”

In recent days the sentiment has moved back to Hillary in the betting and the latest Betfair price has her at 0.49/1 to get the nomination. Obama is now out to 2.95/1.

Even if Iowa proves to be a disappointment to Obama he still has the resources to mount serious challenges in other states.

Politicalbetting – “The Political Website of the Year” In an online ballot carried out amongst 2,300 people on Iain Dale’s site PBC was the overwhelming winner in the website of the year category. We got 24% ahead of 18 Doughty Street on 17% and Comment is free on 15%. Thanks to everybody for their support.

Mike Smithson


Was there insider trading on Brown’s election U-turn?

Friday, December 28th, 2007

    Who were those who cashed in on the afternoon of October 6th?

brown marr.JPGWhile going through some of the old threads during the key moments of 2007 I came across the following discussion, reproduced below, which got by-passed by the dramatic news of Gordon’s general election U-turn on the afternoon of October 6.

For it suggests that a gambler or a group of gamblers who had inside information about the Prime Minister’s decision sought to turn what they knew into cash by betting on the timing of the general election before the decision was made public.

The thread shows that during the 45 minutes before the news was made known there was heavy betting resulting in a sharp easing of the price that nothing would be happening this year.

This is an edited version of the discussion thread on the site which took place as England were beating Australia in the key Rugby World Cup match in France. The betting being referred to is Betfair’s election date market

• “Hmm – 2007 GE last matched at 1.36-1, having been odds-on earlier today. Could there possibly be some seepage of info from the pollsters or wherever?” – by Peter from Putney October 6th, 2007 at 2:59 pm

• “Wow!!! Now out to 1.86-1, something must have been said or whispered!” – by Peter from Putney October 6th, 2007 at 3:08 pm

• “2007 is 8/5 now on Betfair. Something has spooked the market. Is it just us, nattering away? Surely not. Looks like a poll has been leaked, or someone has caught a rumour.” – by seanT October 6th, 2007 at 3:17 pm

• “1.86-1, i.e. approx 15/8 in old money were the then odds on Betfair of a 2007 GE. These odds have since narrowed a little, but it’s a very active market at present.” by Peter from Putney October 6th, 2007 at 3:17 pm

• “Somebody is laying 2007 pretty hard now” by Jon October 6th, 2007 at 3:18 pm

• “Conservative Home may be responsible for the change in Betfair odds. They don’t provide any evidence or source for the rumours of worse polls for Labour. What they do say is that GB is pre-recording an interview with Andrew Marr for tomorrow and speculating that he will rule out a GE.” by Blue Moon October 6th, 2007 at 3:26 pm

• “God this is all too much. Election at evens. England leading Australia by 2 points with fifteen to play. Might have to take some d1azepam.” by seanT October 6th, 2007 at 3:29 pm

• “There won’t be an election Sean. Watch the rugby.” by tim October 6th, 2007 at 3:30 pm

• “Certainly the odds on 2007 are STILL widening. But I don’t see why Brown calling an interview means they’ve cancelled the vote. He might be about to tell us he is going for it. How can they know?” by seanT October 6th, 2007 at 3:37 pm

• “I presume it’s because he needs to see the queen before announcing an election, so wouldn’t do an interview saying what and see.” by Woody662 October 6th, 2007 at 3:38 pm

• “Wow – England have beaten Australia. Election on lol!!!!!! “ by The Reverend Doctor October 6th, 2007 at 3:39 pm

• “Well done England. Excellent performance” by Jack W October 6th, 2007 at 3:40 pm

• “Gordon’s never been very big on traditions – maybe he’s already texted the Queen… “ by Edmund in Tokyo October 6th, 2007 at 3:42 pm

• “Jan-Jun 2009 coming in quite fast as well.” by alex October 6th, 2007 at 3:43 pm

• “Nick Robinson on News 24 – No early election” by Gary Barford October 6th, 2007 at 3:45 pm

• “BBC has the story, its off.” by James Burdett October 6th, 2007 at 3:46 pm

• “SKY BREAKING NEWS The Election is off “ by The Reverend Doctor October 6th, 2007 at 3:46 pm

• “Scots in the final then Jack? Incidentally if the rumour is true, it’s going to be a very interesting interview. Will Gordon prompt laughs and incredulity by claiming the election was never on in the first place?” by alex October 6th, 2007 at 3:48 pm

• “I’m very very relieved … why give the Tories a chance when there’s no need? It was pointless. “ by The Reverend Doctor October 6th, 2007 at 3:49 pm

• “I suspect that GB had a whiff of bad polls and wanted to get out the story before the polls are published this evening to try to delink the decision from the polls. I don’t think it will work somehow!” by Blue Moon October 6th, 2007 at 3:49 pm

• ” England beat the favourites and the election is off! I think this may be the best day of my entire life. I am off to get utterly pissed”
by MBoy October 6th, 2007 at 3:49 pm

• “Nick Robinson could have made a mistake (not totally impossible)… if Nick Robinson is correct then my prediction is March 2008.” by Matthew JCG Partridge October 6th, 2007 at 4:29 pm

One of the risks of political betting is that at times you can be gambling against those who are “in the know”. There’s nothing illegal about it but if price movements on the scale recorded on that afternoon had happened on the stock market ahead of a big announcement then an inquiry would have surely followed.

Mike Smithson


How will Pakistan affect the White House race?

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

mccain clinton.jpg

    Will McCain and Clinton be the main beneficiaries?

With exactly one week to go before the first test of opinion in the 2008 White House race the big question this afternoon is how will such a global event impact on Iowa and New Hampshire – the first states to decide on the candidates?

As the Politco site observes – “Bloody images of Pakistan in turmoil, which will dominate newspapers and TV news just as Iowa voters are making their final decision and the caucuses are only a week away, will remind voters that this is a dangerous world. And the aftermath — still very unclear in the chaos surrounding Bhutto’s death — will test the agility of the presidential campaigns in dealing with an unexpected and momentous event; a dry run for daily life at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.”

There is an argument for saying that American voters, particularly in a places like Iowa, are very parochial and in the end it will be domestic matters which will determine their votes.

On the face of it such a dramatic event is a reminder of the seriousness of the decision voters will be taking. It’s here where some are saying that McCain and Clinton might have the edge and that Huckabee and Obama might just come off second best. In a dangerous world, the argument will go, you need experience.

Team Obama, however, can argue is that it is the established approach to US foreign policy that has made the world much more unstable and that their man can help America to relate to the world community better.

Who knows at this stage? The next few days could be fascinating.

In the betting the Clinton price has tightened to 0.51/1 while McCain is the 4.4/1 third favourite in the GOP contest.

Mike Smithson


What’s going to be the impact of this?

Thursday, December 27th, 2007