Archive for February, 2008


Is this Hillary’s best ad so far?

Friday, February 29th, 2008

    But has it come too late?

It has echoes, as one or two posters have suggested, of this brilliant ad by LBJ in 1964 when he was running against Barry Goldwater.

UPDATE 1615 GMT. The Obama campaign have wasted no time in responding by getting this ad out – all within just over an hour.

Democratic nomination betting is here.

Mike Smithson


Is Cameron trying to do an Obama?

Friday, February 29th, 2008


    What do we think of their new £500k campaign?

In almost all the national papers this morning there are large ads from the Conservatives which are aimed, it seems. at building up a supporter base rather than winning votes.

There’s a different theme in every newspaper but the objective appears to be the same – “Join us at”. The message in the Times is about economic competence, green issues get singled out for special attention in the Independent while the emphasis is on jobs in the Express.

It looks as though the Tories have watched how Barack Obama’s campaign has evolved in the US and concluded that it is vital for a political party to have a large supporter base all of whom are contactable online. Certainly the front-runner for the Dems has done some remarkable things with the internet and this is giving him a real edge both for fundraising and mobilising an activist base.

In the UK we don’t yet have the strict fundraising controls that exist in the US – there is no maximum donation level here unlike across the pond where the most you can give to a campaign is $2300.

My guess is that this Tory campaign is about much more than money. Like all the other parties there has been a big decline in membership and to run effective elections you need to be able to resource big ground operations in key target seats.

Will it work? It will be interesting to watch.

US election online delegate calculator: this from Forbes is fun to play with.

Mike Smithson

  • A note from Peter Smith on the Political Betting Syndicate. There was a strong response to my recent request for PBers to join Mike and I in a betting syndicate which would hopefully demonstrate the money to be made from Political Betting. The following 14 well known names will be participating: Augustus Carp, Matt W, Benedict White, Mike Smithson, Double Carpet, Morus, HenryG, Peter the Punter, Honest Dave, St John, Jan From Norway, Thomasjpaul, Lennon, TomThumb, ,

    I had two further enquiries but the posters did not follow up with emails, as requested, so I have not been able to include them. Since we want to avoid the group becoming too large and therefore unwieldy, we have decided to close membership for the time being. We may reopen it later or perhaps even start a second syndicate, if successful.

  • h1

    Peter Smith on an experiment for next Tuesday night

    Thursday, February 28th, 2008


      Elite Betting and the March 4th Primaries

    In an earlier thread I mentioned at Mike’s request some possible future PB activities but there was one fairly ambitious idea for which I did not have space.

    There is no doubt that this site has been a colossal success since it started in March 2004. There are many reasons and we could all list a number of ingredients – Mike, his open approach, the free and willing contributions by many talented and varied posters. It has become required reading for anybody interested in politics, not just political betting. What makes it so special though?

    At a rough guess, I should say that fewer than 10% of posts are from those who bet to any significant extent. So why do the other 90% or so drop in? One prominent PBer put it succinctly. “They know that money is not partisan.” In other words, they appreciate that if serious punters are putting their money down, there must be some good reason for it. It is the betting element that gives the site its edge. I do not wish to demean all the other valuable and interesting contributors, but it is the punters who, though numerically small, lie at the heart of the site.

    Despite its success, it has however a major problem. It does not make Mike much money, and certainly not as much as it deserves. is a hugely successful brand but so far it has been extremely difficult to exploit it financially.

    One idea for remedying this lies in trying to bridge the gap between the site, as part of the blogosphere, and the mainstream media. My apologies to all you media types out there but frankly I think the coverage of politics in the conventional UK media is pretty poor, especially once one moves outside mainstream UK politics. To find out what’s going on, I generally start at PB and work out from there. Mike’s site provides a fine service for me, but what does he get out of it apart from a little advertising money?

    Some time ago he was contacted by a TV production crew who wanted to do a piece on PB. Fine, but what was there to film? Pictures of people sitting at home before their PCs do not make for riveting TV. What however if the cameras could report the activities of political gamblers operating from the equivalent of a Trading Room?

    Elitebet Ltd has offered, free of charge, the use of one of its rooms for an all night political betting session on Tuesday March 4th when the next round of key US Primaries are being held. Mike and I will be there, along with Double Carpet, Morus and anybody else from PB who wishes to attend what we hope could be a groundbreaking session. If all goes well, we will repeat the exercise for the Mayoral Election, but our eyes are firmly fixed on the next really big political betting event, the US Presidentials in November. By that time, we would hope to know whether Elite’s Trading Room gives us a focal point which will attract national mainstream media coverage.

    There are 22 trading seats available at the Highgate location. Since we considered it unlikely we could provide that many PBers for the inaugural event, Elite will be inviting some of its regular punters along, so please don’t assume you can just turn up and take a vacant place. You must contact me first if you plan to be there, not least because details are still being worked out with the company, which will no doubt need all our bona fides before granting access.

    Meanwhile, if anybody has any thoughts about this little venture, or indeed any suggestions at all to help PB fly a little higher, please put them forward. These are exciting times for the site. Mike, I and all its well-wishers will be pleased to hear from you.

  • If you want to be involved in next Tuesday’s event, please contact me at or ring me on 07880 553351a Elite’s premises are located near Highgate Tube at: 381 Archway Road, London N6 4ER. More information about Elite can be found at:
  • Peter the Punter (Peter Smith)


    What will the chart look like on Wednesday?

    Thursday, February 28th, 2008


      Is Obama really home and dry?

    Just looking at the chart showing the changes in betting prices set out in terms of implied probabilities and you get a sense of this extraordinary race to be the Democratic standard bearer in the Presidential election on November 5th.

      But could there still be a sting in the tail? Could the Clintons stage one of their famous come-backs? Could the prospect of the first female president still be on?

    In Texas they have advance voting and reports this afternoon suggest that this has reached record levels with more than a third of a million people having cast their votes in fifteen counties alone. Unlike some of the other contests in the past month the Clinton campaign has a good organisation in both Texas and Ohio and all the focus has been on this aspect of the process.

    The Texas primary day itself will see caucuses in the evening when a third of the state’s delegates will be at stake and the betting has Obama as a clear winner. Hillary Clinton is still the odds-on favourite in Ohio.

    My only observation is that older women in both states might be prompted to make the effort to vote for Hillary in the same way that things worked in New Hampshire. Still it’s going to be very hard to compete with the Obama ground organisation.

    Texas – Democratic primary – March 4th
    Hillary Clinton 2.45/1: Barack Obama 0.37/1

    Ohio – Democratic primary – March 4th
    Hillary Clinton 0.76/1: Barack Obama 1.2/1

    Mike Smithson


    Labour private poll: “Boris winning the 2nd prefs war”

    Thursday, February 28th, 2008


      The secret survey that shows Ken could be in trouble

    When on Tuesday Ken sought to counter the latest YouGov mayoral figures by revealing party private polling data he set off a disclosure process that has, for the first time I believe, allowed us to look at the full numbers from a Labour survey that was supposed to be secret.

    And with this election looking very tight a key factor will be how the second preferences split – will they favour Ken as they did four years ago or could they offer something to the Tory challenger, Boris Johnson?

      From this poll, at least, it is not looking good for the incumbent. According to his party’s MORI data for every three second preference votes that he’s getting his Tory opponent is picking up four.

    Labour’s private poll looked at this in three ways and on each approach the picture was the same – whether for all those naming a choice, the “certains to vote” or from a third question that has so far not been revealed – a forced choice between Boris and Ken

    To the question “Thinking specifically about Boris Johnson, the Conservative candidate and Ken Livingstone, the Labour candidate, if you were forced to choose between
    them, which would you prefer to be Mayor of London?”
    those certain to vote split Ken 49% to Boris’s 47%. Given that when all candidates were included Ken had a four point lead this underlines the point.

    There’s a further factor which should be worrying the Ken camp – turnout. In 2004 this was 36.95%. The “certain to vote” proportion in this Labour Mori poll was 48%. My view is that the smaller the turnout figure the more challenging the election will be for Ken and that it will end up being closer to what happened last time than the polling figure.

    It should be noted that the later YouGov poll with Boris 5% ahead was taken after the Lee Jasper suspension, does not include any probing on second preferences and had no turnout element.

    In the Mayoral betting Ken has continued to move out. He’s now at 0.79/1. Based on the information we now have Ken is worth laying at anything up to evens.

    Mike Smithson


    Was this the response where Hillary went wrong?

    Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

    by luvnews

      Should she have avoided “calling for a pillow” for Obama”?

    The above thirty second snatch has probably been the most widely criticised part of Hillary’s performance in the debate overnight. It was as though she was trying to make herself look the victim.

    On the issue at stake, whether she was always asked the first question, commentators have noted that on at least three occasion she jumped into to answer a point without one of the moderators suggesting that she should.

    The nomination betting prices have hardly moved with Obama on 0.22/1.

  • I have just been advised that here’s a blog about this site which has just gone up.
  • Mike Smithson


    Did Ken hold back MORI to trump YouGov?

    Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

      The MORI poll he reported is nearly three weeks old

    I have now got the fieldwork dates and some other details from the private MORI poll for Labour that Ken “pulled out of the hat” as news of the 5% deficit in the YouGov survey came out.

    The MORI fieldwork started getting on for three weeks ago, on February 8th and went on until the 12th. A sample of 808 Londoners was interviewed by telephone.

    The survey found on that on the first round it was 38% Livingstone, 35% Johnson and 14% Paddick. When second preferences were taken into account that moved to Ken 49% to Boris 47%.

    The latest YouGov poll, which was commissioned by a media organisation, ITN, was conducted last week and had Boris on 44%, Ken on 39% with Paddick at 12%. In between the MORI and YouGov polls lee Jasper was suspended.

      My understanding is that Labour and Ken knew about the MORI poll almost as soon as it had been completed but it was deemed to be a deadly secret because of the closeness of the finding.

    When Ken announced it yesterday, without providing the supporting data, I asked MORI for the detailed information and they obviously were not expecting the request.

    I am assured that the full data will be provided in the two day time period that is laid down.

    In the Mayoral betting Ken has moved out to 0.74/1 with Boris moving in to 1.2/1. My view, based on the evidence we have, is that Boris is now the marginal favourite.

    Mike Smithson


    Will the Cleveland showdown change anything?

    Wednesday, February 27th, 2008


      Could Clinton’s sustained attacks impede Obama?

    The final debate ahead of the critical March 4th primaries in Texas and Ohio has ended with Hillary not managing to make the knock-out blow that she needed to.

    My view was that she probably won on points – but only by a narrow margin. The questioning by MSNBC’s political team was much tougher than we have seen.

    At one point I thought that Hillary “had” her opponent when he was pressed about an endorsement from Louis Farrakhan, the controversial Islamic minister. Obama said he denounced Farrakhan but Clinton suggested that he needed to do more and reject the endorsement. After some pressure Obama accepted the point and his good humour won it with the audience but my guess is that the Clinton spinners will point to this as a victory.

    Obama was not convincing when pressed on what he would do if the Russians intervened in Kosovo. Hillary was perhaps fortunate that the question was not put to her.

    The nomination betting prices have hardly moved with Obama on 0.22/1.

    Mike Smithson