Archive for January, 2008


Now ComRes shows that the Tories are faltering

Monday, January 28th, 2008

    …and the Hain affair does not seem to have hurt Labour

The first poll to be carried out after the Hain resignation, by ComRes for the Independent, is showing that the Tory lead is down three points to 8%. The figures are with changes on December – CON 38%(-3): LAB 30%(nc): LD 17%(+1).

So the trends we have seen with ICM and YouGov have continued with the pollster that has been recording the best Tory figures – the Tory share is down, the Lib Dems are up and Labour is staying about the same.

In recent weeks the Tories have found it hard getting onto the new agenda with all the focus being on the US elections, the economy or Labour’s problems with its donors. There’s hardly been a big Tory headline in weeks – excluding Derek Conway.

At these levels the Anthony Wells seat predictor indicates a post general election commons consisting CON 312: LAB 265: LD 43: OTH 30 seats – so Cameron would be thirteen short of an overall majority.

My betting: After the YouGov and ICM polls at the weekend I switched from being a buyer of Tory seats on the spread markets to being a seller at an average of 301.

Mike Smithson


Mayoral poll based on just 240 voters

Monday, January 28th, 2008

London mayor poll.JPG

    How much can you trust a survey with such a small sample?

The detailed data on YouGov’s London mayoral survey is out today and there are two things to highlight – the survey took place AFTER the controversial Channel 4 Dispatches programme last Monday but the size of the sample was just about the smallest that I can recall from the firm.

In their normal national voting intention surveys YouGov generally involve about 2000 people. The figure for Saturday’s Daily Telegraph poll was 1992. In previous surveys for the London Mayoral race the figure has been about 1000. The December survey was based on 995 responses and a poll in November had a sample of 1036.

Yet only 339 people took part last week’s poll poll and as Anthony Wells on UK PollingReport points out if you exclude the “don’t knows” and “won’t votes” your are left with just 240 responders.

As can be seen above YouGov had to make some fairly major adjustments to deal with under-represented and over-represented groups. So just 25 people in the 45-54 year old age group took part and their responses had to be scaled up to fit the 50 target for that segment.

The smaller the sample, of course, the greater the margin of error.

It is estimated that about five million Londoners will be able to take part in the election on May 1st.

Let’s hope that this will not be the norm for the campaign and that future surveys will have at least 1000 people taking part. It costs more but we will be able to attach more importance to the findings.

London mayoral betting is here.

Mike Smithson


How damaging is Conway to Cameron?

Monday, January 28th, 2008

    Will there be few tears shed for David Davis’s rounder-upper?

This lunchtime’s news that Tory MP Derek Conway faces a 10-day Commons suspension after the standards watchdog said he paid his son too much from parliamentary allowances. Freddie Conway, received a salary as a researcher while he was studying at Newcastle University.

The only problem was, according to the report “.. no records appear to exist of either actual work that Freddie did for his father, or of the work he was required to undertake”.

So while all the focus has been on Labour, Peter Hain and the donations issues Conway has given Labour a rod to beat the Tories with. Not good particularly at this time.

We last discussed Derek Conway during the Tory leadership battle in October 2005 when his job was to try to ensure that those MPs who had gone public in their support for David Davis stuck with their decision.

At the time I wrote: “He (Conway) built a fearsome reputation as a whip for the final three years of the 1992-1997 Tory government stopping a seepage of votes following the Maastricht treaty. Now his style of “charm” is at the disposal of David Davis and all those on the list are going to be under enormous pressure to stick by their man. Their phones are not going to stop ringing until the first ballot is over.”

At the time someone who had experienced Conway first hand called me to say how fearsome he was and suggested that all those had had gone public for Davis would stick with him. It didn’t quite work out that way but most stayed on board.

Mike Smithson


Is this now a clash of the Democratic Dynasties?

Monday, January 28th, 2008

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    How will Kennedy’s endorsement affect the race?

The excellent US Politico site is reporting that a major battle has been going on between the Obama and Clinton camps over plans by Ted Kennedy to appear on a platform with Barack Obama today and give his blessing to the Illinois senator in the fight for the Democratic nomination.

The importance of the move can be measured by the efforts that the Clinton campaign has made to try to stop Kennedy making such a move. There have been personal pleas from the ex–president himself as well as “a flood of phone calls to Kennedy from sources ranging from union chiefs to his Massachusetts constituents.”

ABC News has been characterising this as “the clash of Dynasties – giving this a personal edge that will ensure further coverage for the second favourite as the campaign goes into its next stage.

Assessing the impact Politico notes – “The embrace provides a dramatic rocket for Obama to ride into the frantic, nationwide campaigning ahead of the spate of Super Tuesday primaries on Feb. 5, the biggest day for nominating contests in U.S. history. Caroline Kennedy, the senator’s niece and the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, will also appear at the rally, the sources said. Democrats said the endorsement will help Obama with traditional Democratic groups where Clinton has been strong — union households, Hispanics and downscale workers.”

In the betting the Obama price has tightened a touch to 1.88/1 while Clinton has move a notch to 0.53/1. So a winning £100 bet on the President’s spouse would have produced a £45 profit last week – today that stands at £53.

    Personally I find this a very difficult betting call to make. I want Obama to win but I am only too conscious of the danger of letting my own desires affect my judgement. Sporting Index now have a spread market on the election which is where some of my money is going. I think the firm is over-valuing Hillary and sell price seems the best bet about.

Judging by the published amounts being traded on Betfair almost all the activity in political markets at the moment is focussed on the US and my guess is that will continue to be the case – certainly until the aftermath of Super Tuesday.

Mike Smithson


Friday’s party pictures….by Roger

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

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Thanks to the excellent efforts of Peter the Punter (Peter Smith) and Augustus Carp (David Langshaw) the fourth site party was held on Friday night. Ladbrokes helped with some sponsorship to keep the costs down.

It would be great if in the comments thread those who were there could identify some of those in the pictures. I am in the top right shot with the William Hague haircut. This is a group shot.

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Mike Smithson


Should your money be on the man with money?

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

Romney money WSJ.JPG

    Will it be the wealthiest contender who gets the GOP prize?

After Florida on Tuesday the whole nature of the battle for the Democratic and Republican nominations changes and, more than at any stage so far, the importance of money to fund a campaign becomes critical. For a week on Tuesday there will be primaries in states that make up nearly half the population of the US and it’s going to be very hard to make a big impact across such massive groups of voters without resources.

During the week the Wall Street Journal looked at the whole issue of campaign finance amongst the GOP candidates and the table above is reproduced from the article. From reading this the conclusion is quite stark – Mitt Romney is the wealthiest contender and has the ability to spend massively in this crucial phase.

For Romney has been able to dip into his personal resources and self-finance – an option that is not open to the current front runner John McCain, Rudy or Huckabee.

I’m continuing to maintain a biggish position on Romney because he’s in with a good chance in the winner-takes-all election on Tuesday and can outspend everybody else the following week.

He’s also the candidate who is most favoured by the GOP establishment. Romney is 2.1/1 second favourite on Betfair with McCain odds-on at 0.87/1.

Mike Smithson


South Carolina continuation thread….

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

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    Will Bill and Hillary be happy after Obama’s big win?

Please continue the discussion here. Latest betting on the Democratic nomination is here.

What is interesting tonight is the sheer scale of Obama’s victory which totally dwarfs what the polls were suggesting.

UPDATE – 0300: With a likely margin of 27-28% the polls were further out here than they were in New Hampshire. It’s very easy to get carried away by the moment and certainly there has been a big move against Hillary on the betting markets.

    One significant item to come out overnight has been the endorsement of Obama by JFK’s daughter, Caroline. Her comment “Finally I can vote for a candidate like my father” will play very well.

The Spectator Coffee House blog has remarked on the booing at the Obama victory event when pictures of Bill Clinton appeared on the TV monitors – “A Democrat crowd booing Bill Clinton—it is nothing short of incredible.”

I think that what is being described as Clinton “Alpha male” approach might have bombed and could cause trouble for Hillary’s campaign way beyond South Carolina. It all looks too personal for him and he should have kept much more aloof.

Overall my heart says Obama but my head still says Hillary. But let’s see how the main US media plays this one as we move to “Super Tuesday” on February 5th.

Mike Smithson


Who’ll come out of South Carolina on top?

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

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    Will Obama get the breadth of support that he needs?

With the polling stations in South Carolina due to close at 7pm ET (0000 GMT) there is not long to wait for the next chapter in the extraordinary drama of this year’s bitter contest for the Democratic nomination.

For Obama tonight is pretty crucial. Not only does he need to carry the state with an emphatic margin he needs to show as well that his support is more broadly based than the black communities. For if not then the awesome Clinton machine will be able to marginalise the result and Obama’s bid.

This isn’t going to be pretty and the aftermath of the voting could be nearly as important as the result itself.

The RCP average of the SC polls has the black senator from Illinois at 11.6% ahead.

Betting on the democratic nomination is here

Mike Smithson