Archive for February, 2008


Ken falls 5% behind Boris in new London poll

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

    Is the Mayor being hit by all bad publicity?

A new YouGov poll for London ITV News has Ken fallen 5% behind Boris in the race for the London Mayoralty. These ae the shares compared with the last proper survey from the firm in December – JOHNSON 44%(nc): LIVINGSTONE 39%(-5): PADDICK 12%(+5)

The YouGov boss, Peter Kellner has confirmed to me that the survey took place from Tuesday to Thursday of last week and involved a sample of 1,003. In a TV interview this evening Kellner said that he thought that “Ken was in Trouble”.

In response Livingstone has said that Labour’s private polling is showing that he is still ahead – by 2% of those certain to vote. This is from a survey from Ipsos-MORI. When I see the detail I will give it prominence.

I contacted the pollster this evening for the information and was told that information about the survey would be made available within the time-frame laid down – which is two days.

What are critical are the dates of the fieldwork for the Ipsos-MORI survey. Did this take place at the same time or is it a bit old or newer?

In the mayoral betting you can still get 6/4 on Boris which seems like a bargain.

Mike Smithson


Is 5/1 Kathleen Sebelius a good V-P bet?

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

    Is this the woman who will join Obama on the ticket?

kathleen sibelius.JPGUnless there’s a dramatic turnaround in Hillary’s campaign in the next few days then in the middle of next week speculation will turn to who the junior senator from Illinois will choose to be his running mate.

There has, of course, been talk that it should be Hillary herself and certainly that would please large sections of the party. But after the campaign that we have seen and her tactics in the past few days is that going to be possible? And would having a Clinton on the ticket simply reinforce the Republican vote?

What Hillary has shown, however, is that there is a large constituency of women voters which needs to be kept on board. A woman on the ticket could play a big part.

Consider, therefore, Kathleen Sebelius – the Governor of Kansas who, herself, was tipped as a potential candidate for for President after Kerry’s defeat.

Speculation about her future was heightened by the fact that in January she was chosen by the Party’s congressional leaders to give the to Bush”s to Republican President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address.

She also got onto the Obama band-wagon early. A week before Super Tuesday and the Kansas Caucus she endorsed his campaign. Obama won the caucus easily, with over 70% support. Kathleen has also done TV spots for Barack.

She’s also chair of the Democratic Governors Association – which is often described as a very good launchpad for those with political ambitions.

On Betfair Kathleen is the 3.6/1 favourite – well ahead of her PaddyPower price of 5/1. When there’s such a differential between a fixed odds price and the betting exchange then the former won’t last long.

The most I was allowed to put on was £78 – but that should give a reasonable return.

Mike Smithson


Do ICM’s Mayoral numbers tell us anything?

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

    Why don’t Ken’s voters back him on the congestion charge?

cc-charge-sign-rh.JPGBy far and away the biggest political betting event in the UK this year is the London Mayoral election on May 1st. Five million people will be able to vote and the outcome will set the scene for the coming general election.

But as we’ve noted before – there has been almost no polling data on which to make predictions. We’ve had just one survey in 2008 and only 240 people expressed an opinion.

But details of another survey have just come out. It’s a private poll from ICM that was taken in January and seeks to measure response to what has become Ken Livingstone flag-policy, the London Congestion Charge and the plans to increase the daily fee to £25 for the most gas-guzzling cars. This might be clutching at straws but in a poll starved environment any data might be useful.

What could be significant is that ICM found that a majority of 2004 Livingstone voters were opposed to what has become his signature policy. If his own supporters won’t back him on this what does it say for his chances in May?

The Livingstone voters of 2004 think, by 55% to 38%, that the basic congestion charge of £8 is unfair. On the proposed £25 daily charge for gas-guzzlers 65% of Ken’s supporters four years ago thought the level was too high, 31% thought it “about right” and 2% said it was “too low”.

Yet when it comes to having to pay the charge 62% of the Ken supporters said they had never paid it, presumably because they do not take cars into central London, against just 1% who said they paid it every day.

It will be recalled that the mayor’s own congestion charge poll has become something of an issue. A week last Friday we reported on the decision of the British Polling Council to launch a formal inquiry into the refusal of Ipsos-MORI to make available the detailed data of a survey they had carried out on the issue. That is being withheld in apparent breach of the BPC’s transparency rules because the client, TfL won’t let it be published.

In contrast ICM’s full polling data was made available the day after the firm’s client, Porshe, had released some of the findings.

In the betting Ken continues to be the odds on favourite but Boris’s prices has tightened. I think this race is going to be very close and Johnson remains the value bet.

Mike Smithson


Tories take 11% lead with ComRes

Monday, February 25th, 2008


    Did Cameron benefit from the Auschwitz row exposure?

A new poll by ComRes for tomorrow’s Independent shows a three point move back to the Tories since last month. The shares are CON 41% (+3): LAB 30% (nc): LD 17% (nc)

If the pollster was following its normal pattern then the fieldwork would have taken place from Friday until Sunday when one of the big political stories was the row of David Cameron’s Auschwitz trip press release.

My theory, as regular visitors will know, is that the Tories do better in polls if their leader is in the news at the start of the fieldwork period irrespective of whether it is positive or negative coverage.

The survey follows other polls last week which showed that the Tory lead was falling and the shares of 41% equals the highest ever level recorded by the pollster.

After last week’s polls which seemed to suggest that Labour was coming out of the Northern Rock crisis unscathed this new survey will come as a blow.

One factor which probably hurts Labour with the firm is the way the turn-out is calculated. ICM filters so it only includes those saying 7/10 or more and they are all given the same value. ComRes filters out those below 5/10 but then weights responses in line with the expressed certainty. YouGov does not filter or weight on the certainty to vote.

So the extraordinary diverse range of polling results at the moment continues.

Mike Smithson


PB – More than just a website…?

Monday, February 25th, 2008

ppc party.JPG

    Peter the Punter looks at possible new developments (1)

The day after Super Tuesday, Mike and small group of us PB camp followers met in a café near Leicester Square and despite suffering election night fatigue, alleviated only slightly by some rather nice red wine, a number of ideas emerged, the more sensible of which Mike asked me to mention here.

Social Events PB Parties have proved very popular and been well supported. Naturally we are not limited to one a year and we propose another in early summer, probably at the National Liberal Club again, especially if we can book the terrace overlooking the Embankment. Technically I suppose PB resides in cyberspace but the NLC has become its unofficial home on earth and for very good reason. Not only is it a superb building but it provides ideal accommodation and sustenance at reasonable prices. We will probably be using it increasingly, and not just for parties.

We would like to organise some smaller get-togethers: perhaps a dinner, or simply drinks. Again, the NLC suggests itself as a suitable venue but there are plenty of alternatives. These are easily arranged and need not necessarily involve Mike or me, but if people want to use me as a conduit, I am happy to assist. It would be nice if some of these events could take place out of London, but it would need somebody local to arrange them and so far nobody has stepped forward.

We also thought there might be a demand for some small seminars and talks. The PB community includes a number of journalists, pollsters, MPs, media people and the like who I am sure could be prevailed upon to offer their services at a modest cost. Again, the NLC or possibly the House of Commons suggest themselves as venues. Such events could easily be combined with suitable sustenance and I am sure would be very enjoyable.

On the betting front, some will recall that I promised in an earlier thread to set up a syndicate that would place hypothetical bets and win a notional £20,000. Morus quickly pointed out the flaw. A bet simply isn’t real unless it’s for real money. We have decided therefore to see if we can find about, say, ten people willing to pool their money to get this venture off the ground. Results would be open for all on PB to see, though obviously only syndicate members would have access to the funds and the authority to bet with them.

Mike and I will be very interested to hear everybody’s views. We can then we can make a few announcements once we have gauged the response.

Finally, we haven’t forgotten about revamping Formal Wagers Corner. This has been delayed by some minor technical hitches.

And even more finally, we have been kicking around an idea to promote PB in the wider media, but I’ll deal with that in another htread thread.

Peter the Punter (Peter Smith)


Should Hillary quit with dignity rather than this?

Monday, February 25th, 2008

    Is this approach really going to keep her voters on side?

With just one week and one day to go before the crucial Texas and Ohio primaries Hillary Rodham Clinton has stepped up the rhetoric with this speech overnight.

It look as though the strategy is to do everything she can to get her core voters, mostly elder women, out to vote. Could it be that like in New Hampshire in early January this will boost turnout.

The trouble is that she looks like a poor loser and that the attacks will just reinforce the desire of Obama supporters to make sure that they vote.

In the betting there has been a slight easing in the Obama price.

Mike Smithson


Are Ken’s backer’s plagiarising Obama?

Monday, February 25th, 2008


    But does talk of “change” work when you are bidding for a third term?

With the fight the Democratic nomination hardly being off our screens during 2008 it is perhaps not surprising that Obama’s rhetoric, the phrases he uses, the way he constructs sentences and most of all the words themselves should start to have an influence in UK politics.

Just take the following high-blown quote from a statement that a group of Labour supporting academics, writers and artists, have sent to the Guardian today. The signatories include Lord Puttnam, the singer and songwriter Billy Bragg and the actor Tony Robinson.

“…This election matters to the nation, not just the capital. Livingstone represents a hope that something better is possible; that a different type of society is not just some pipe dream of the left, but can be created.”

That, surely, is pure Obama. Perhaps the writer had the TV on while the statement was being drafted?

But does talk of change and hope work in the London Mayoral context when the Labour flag carrier has been in the post for eight years and is having to fight off successive media stories about his handling of the position? I don’t think so – the phrases are good but they don’t resonate when they are in support of an incumbent.

In the London mayoral race betting Ken is the 0.68/1 favourite with Boris at 1.6/1. In the White House race betting Obama is the 0.9/1 favourite to become the next President.

Mike Smithson


Could McCain be skewered by his own law?

Sunday, February 24th, 2008


    Will Obama be able to outspend him by three or four to one?

One statistic that came out of Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary was that in the TV advertising war in the state Barack Obama spent five times as much as the cash-starved Clinton campaign. That’s a massive difference and might have had an impact on the outcome.

Looking forward to a McCain-Obama contest in November could the Democratic campaign have a similar overwhelming advantage? And if it does could the main cause have been the pioneering legislation that John McCain helped pushed through Congress six years ago. Quite simply could the likely GOP nominee be skewered by his own bill?

To give an idea of the battle he had to fight to get the legislation I’ve reproduced part of the cover of a National Rifle Association publication that was used to campaign against the McCain-Feingold bill – the law that, amongst other things, restricts the amount someone can give to a campaign to $2300.

A big consequence of this is that it puts a premium on being able to attract a mass of small donations – something which the traditional US political fundraising machines have never really paid attention to. It’s so much easier to get one person to give you $100,000 than to get 2000 people to give you $50.

Howard Dean saw the potential ahead of his abortive 2004 bid and Obama has followed in his wake. Both used the internet extensively and both built up massive databases of supporters. It’s now being suggested that the Illinois senator is heading towards a total of one million individual donors – almost all of whom can be contacted instantly by email and have yet to be “maxed” out, that is given the legal maximum.

Another problem that McCain faces is that last year he bid for federal funding, a key condition of which is a strict limit on what can be spent. He’s now trying to get out of that but is being told that he might have to stick with this.

If this is going to be down to money – then Barack looks like a winner.

White House race betting is here.

  • Could we use this thread for US politics only and continue discussion on UK developments on the previous one?

Mike Smithson