Archive for October, 2008


Is voter retention Brown’s biggest challenge?

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

    What should Labour do about those who were drawn to Tony?

One of the great polling developments of the past two years is that the three telephone firms that use past vote weighting are now providing data so you can see what those who said they voted for the main parties at the last general election plan to do at the next one.

I’ve extracted the above numbers from the latest ComRes, ICM and Populus surveys and have sought to present them in the same format. The figures are interesting because as I have long argued here the views of those who say they have voted in the past are probably more important than those who did not.

The balance of voters with each firm have either said they would support another party, refused to answer or said they don’t know.

The high Conservative retention numbers are hardly surprising even given the decline in current ratings. All the firms have them well above the 33% of the general election. The Lib Dem figures have the most variation while the picture of 2005 Labour voters is pretty consistent across the firms.

    But does Labour have a Tony problem? For a significant part of the support that brought them three general election victories came from voters who had never voted for the party before but had been persuaded by Blair that it was safe to support New Labour. Once Tony had gone there was always going to be a problem.

It should be noted that those who said they voted in 2005 represent only a proportion of those surveyed.

A large number of people who, for whatever reason, did not vote last time say they are planning to do so at the next one and it is is this group that has the most volatility. They swung behind Gordon in his honeymoon from July – September 2007 and they had been saying they will vote Tory until the past few weeks.

PoliticalBetting Channel 2 Remember to check out our new second site which has been set up provide a platform for more reflective articles and to be a back up to the main site should there be a technical problem. Bookmark PoliticalBetting Channel 2 now.

Mike Smithson


Tonight’s wrap and Marf cartoon

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Hills make Labour odds-on at Glenrothes The bookie says they have not taken any bets on the SNP winning the seat since Brown campaigned there at the weekend. The firm has Labour at 10/11 to win the seat, with the SNP marginal favourites at 4/5. The Hills Labour price is pretty mean. Just go to the round-up of live prices in the other Glenrothes betting and you can get the party at 5/4.

Obama 19% ahead amongst early voters. The Guardian reports that more than 12 million people have already cast their votes in the US presidential election and that a poll by Pew Research had Obama on 53% and McCain at 34% amongst this group.

Live White House Race betting from PB’s mainstream betting sponsor, Bestbetting – the world’s leading online betting odds service.

  • Our cartoon, as ever, is an original by Marf and was produced for and by special agreement is also used on PB.
  • Mike Smithson


    What will happen to green politics during the recession?

    Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

    Is the environment only something we care about when we are prosperous?

    The chart above is from the latest Ipsos-MORI and shows responses to the firm’s unprompted “What do you thing are the main/important issues facing Britain today” which they have been asking in exactly the same way for more than two decades.

    As can be expected the current top topic raised by respondents was the economy. But just look at the way “green” concerns have been declining. When your main interest is just making ends meet then caring for the planet might be put on the back-burner.

    With the three main parties all articulating quite radical approaches to climate change it will be interesting to watch how important they regard this in the eighteen months up to the election. My guess is that their enthusiasm will be like the chart above.

    Spread betting report. The latest US election spreads on electoral college votes from PB’s spread-betting sponsor, Sporting Index are:- OBAMA 344-350: MCCAIN 188-194. In addition there’s a big range of other US election markets.

    The UK general election commons seats spreads have moved a couple of notches to Labour. The latest figures are CON 340-346: LAB 236-242: LD 43-46 seats.

    Those who open an account through the links on the site will get a free copy of my book – “The Political Punter”.

    Mike Smithson


    ComRes poll points to a hung parliament

    Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

      Should spread punters now be buying Labour?

    There’s a new ComRes poll out for the Independent which could make worrying reading for the Tories. Although the margin over Labour is down by just one point the last ComRes poll was showing the worst figures for the Tories of all the pollsters.

    As ever the Independent’s report of its poll is highly misleading because the comparisons it uses are with the last survey it published – not the last survey by the same pollster. They do this every month and every month this presents a distorted picture.

    The correct comparison with the survey that appeared in the Independent on Sunday the week before last are: CON 39 (-1): LAB 31% (nc): LD 16% (nc).

    The commons seat figures in the panel above are taken by inputting the latest numbers into the UKPollingReport seat calculator. This applies the changes on a uniform national swing basis and almost certainly understates the Lib Dem position.

      We now have a position where the projected seat totals are out of line with the spread betting markets

    The overnight numbers from PB’s spread-betting sponsor, Sporting Index were: CON 342-348: LAB 234-240: LD 43-46.

    If you think that other polls might be in the same area then there’s a good case for saying – buy Labour.

    Mike Smithson


    What’s going to be the long-term affect on our politics?

    Monday, October 27th, 2008

      Will those in power get the blame or will they be seen as offering stability?

    Another week opens with volatility on the stock markets round the world and it’s almost as though this has become the new norm. We seem to be getting used to it and it isn’t quite dominating the headlines and bulletins in the way that it was.

    But what’s going to be the impact on political structures and the political process? Are, for instance, we going to view the role of the state differently given it’s massive state intervention that’s kept the system going? A hard call.

      Are we going to blame those who were in power and who allowed all this to happen? If the polls are anything to go by then American people will be doing just that next week. But what about the UK – will Brown continue to get the credit for providing an initial solution or will be get the blame?

    Are we going to see a new sort of politician along the Barack Obama model? Someone who is cerebral, calm and considered, who doesn’t get riled and appears to be so much in control? Is there a UK equivalent? It’s hard to think of one.

    The world has certainly changed but we don’t yet know how.

  • Our cartoon, as ever, is by Marf who is now back from Canada. It was produced for and by special agreement is also used on PB. Thanks again Marf – we have missed you.
  • Mike Smithson


    Is this the best Obama endorsement so far?

    Monday, October 27th, 2008

      What can McCain-Palin do in the final few days?

    As we enter the final week of the 2008 US White House race newspapers right across the night are coming out for one candidate or the other. And there’s one today which will give extra pleasure to the Obama camp – from the leading publication in the state where Sarah Palin is governor, Alaska.

    This is how the Anchorage Daily News sees it: “..Gov. Palin’s nomination clearly alters the landscape for Alaskans as we survey this race for the presidency — but it does not overwhelm all other judgment. The election, after all is said and done, is not about Sarah Palin, and our sober view is that her running mate, Sen. John McCain, is the wrong choice for president at this critical time for our nation..Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, brings far more promise to the office. In a time of grave economic crisis, he displays thoughtful analysis, enlists wise counsel and operates with a cool, steady hand. The same cannot be said of Sen. McCain…”

    Alaska has just three electoral college votes and has almost always been solidly Republican – so it’s hard to see the paper making a difference. But it all will make it that much tougher for the GOP ticket as they try to keep in the race in the final phase.

    US Election Betting With the main race looking like a foregone conclusion the betting firms are coming up with a range of different betting markets in order to tempt us to have a punt. PB’s spread-betting sponsor, Sporting Index, has this morning brought in a range of new markets including handicap and state betting. Everyone who opens an account with them through PB and places a bet will be given a free copy of my book “The Political Punter”.

    The site’s other betting sponsor, BestBetting, continues to provide live prices on a full range of US markets. Both these firms play a key part in providing revenue to help keep PB going. Please use them for all your betting – not just politics – and use the links from here.

    Mike Smithson


    Will Glenrothes be Gordon’s personal triumph?

    Monday, October 27th, 2008

      Should you be taking the 7/4 on a Labour hold?

    On the face of it the mathematics are on the SNP’s side in the Glenrothes by election which takes place a week on Thursday. Just three months ago the party took the Labour stronghold of Glasgow East with a 22.5% swing and on top that it holds the seat in Holyrood.

    So the 14.3% Glenrothes swing target is much lower in comparison which is probably the reason that ever since the betting markets opened punters have seen Salmond’s party as the very clear favourites.

    Yet things have changed dramatically in the UK and particularly the Scottish political environment since July – and this was reflected in yesterday’s YouGov poll of voting intentions north of the border. For Westminster this had these changes since a similar poll in the first part of September, LAB 38%(+6): SNP 29%(-5): CON 20%(+3): LD11%(-2). Labour’s 38% is only one point short of what they achieved in Scotland in the 2005 general election.

    Labour’s current best price is 7/4 which to my mind offers great value for money and is where I’ve been putting my cash. The conventional bookie prices are currently better than Betfair and I’ve been trying to get as much on as the individual firms will allow me – this is a great bet

    By all accounts Labour is running a highly effective campaign and is managing to exploit a big local issue – the SNP controlled council has had to impose a series of budget cuts. The Labour campaign has homed on the fact that, as Scotland on Sunday reports – a decision to increase charges for home care for carers and the disabled from £4 a week to a whopping £11 an hour.

    It is such “foothold” issues that can have dramatic impacts on by election campaigns and over the next few days the party is throwing everything at the seat. The PB regular, Nick Palmer MP, is one of those who has been drafted in to help.

      The fact that Gordon Brown was allowed to be personally associated with the campaign by making a visit shows the confidence of his party’s campaigners on the ground. This would simply not have happened if they thought that defeat was as likely as the betting suggests. Glenrothes is being set up as Gordon’s personal triumph.

    If Labour do hold on this will be presented as firm confirmation of Labour’s recovery.

    Mike Smithson


    Could it happen here?

    Sunday, October 26th, 2008

      Talent show host’s party takes second place in Lithuania

    Following live election results in the likes of Austria and Canada is one thing, but it has to be admitted that Lithuania isn’t generally one of the 25 or so countries that I try to keep an eye on. However, it caught my attention that the party securing second place in the first round of the country’s general election a fortnight ago (the run-off round is today), the National Resurrection Party, is led by ArÅ«nas Valinskas, who is the host of a Pop Idol style talent show.

    This got me thinking – could it ever happen here? To be fair, the NRP did only secure 15% of the vote in Lithuania’s rather crowded party system, and the Baltic state uses a form of proportional representation, which makes it easier for parties to gain a foothold than a first-past-the-post system (witness the differing experiences of Greens in Canada and Austria this autumn).

      Could a party led by an entertainment mogul such as Simon Cowell, on a platform of national renewal and fighting against “politics as usual” and the established parties, gain any traction in the UK, especially during difficult economic times? Money would presumably not be a problem and maybe the new outfit could secure the enthusiastic backing of a tabloid newspaper – and the “politics of celebrity” might encourage previously apathetic younger voters to support the new party.

    Charismatic leadership is always important in politics – one thinks of the late Jörg Haider, Gerhard Schröder (whose campaigning abilities in 2005 helped keep the SPD in government) – and of course Barack Obama. Perhaps the nearest scenario in a major country to the one outlined above is Forza Italia – formed at the end of 1993 and in government by mid-1994, although Berlusconi’s rise to prominence filled the vacuum left by the demise of Italy’s Christian Democrats. So, Simon Cowell as a UK version of Silvio Berlusconi? Perhaps not (and some posters would argue that “No” is the standard response to any PB thread!), but the Lithuanian example certainly provides food for thought. Do PBers have any suggestions for suitable candidates to head such a party?

    Bibi 8/11, Tzipi evens? Israel set for an election in early 2009

    With the failure of Tzipi Livni to form a coalition government, early elections in Israel, perhaps next February, are now on the cards. As speculated previously, Shas proved to be the sticking point in putting a government together. There was the mathematical possibility of a slim coalition without Shas, but this did not materialise. So, were I a bookie, I might tentatively suggest a “tissue” of prices for Israeli PM after the elections to be Netanyahu (Likud) at 8/11, Livni (Kadima) at evens, and Barak (Labor) at 8/1, with 33/1 any other – although a country where the Pensioners’ Party can split into two factions is always going to be something of a challenge to get to grips with politically.

    New Zealand (election 8 Nov) background, polls, betting market

    PB to participate again in the Tote Ten to Follow competition

    Peter the Punter, Peter Smith, is once again organising an site entry in the “Tote Ten to Follow competition”. This was great fun last season although we did not make any money and I’ll certainly be taking part again.

    Full details are available on the new PB Channel 2.

    Double Carpet