Archive for December, 2011


The White House betting edges back to Obama

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

The main overall White House race market on Betfair is this one – on which party will win the election in November. Clearly at the moment we don’t know who the GOP candidate will be and whether there could be a third contender. Donald Trump has been mentioned as has Ron Paul should he not get the Republican nomination.

We’ve also seen Obama’s approval ratings edging back up and generally these can be a good pointer.

In the meantime the Iowa caucus is a week from tonight. The polling has looked tight and it’s hard to confident about any of them.

Then two weeks on from today there’s New Hampshire – the first proper primary.

There’s a lot to play for.

Mike Smithson @MikeSmithsonOGH


Do we approve of the approval voting system?

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

How are you liking the system for this year’s POTY elections?

As PB regulars will recall we generally hold our Poster of the Year elections using first past the post. Twelve months ago, after the formal voting had taken place, Rod Crosby staged an experimental ballot using the AV system – which was to be the subject of the referendum a few months later.

This year, as an experiment, we are using a system that has not been seen much in the UK and is known as Approval Voting. This is how the US-based Center for Election Science describes it:-

Approval Voting is a single-winner voting system that has voters select as many candidates as they wish.

The candidate with the highest number of votes wins. Approval Voting is particularly useful when voters must select between more than two choices.

Approval Voting highlights:

  • More expressive
  • No vote splitting or spoilers
  • Always vote your honest favorite
  • Significantly less spoiled ballots
  • Results are easy to understand, just like Plurality
  • Ballots are familiar to voters and look essentially the same as Plurality
  • Is good at choosing the beat-all winner
  • Alternate candidates get a more accurate measure of support

So far we’ve had one completed ballot – for the “Newcomer of the Year” which has itself led to a debate in the US over approval voting.

Until 6pm today we’ll be voting on the overseas based POTY. Then later in the week we have the election for the main contest.

From the experience so far I like it particularly because all candidates get a more accurate measure of support.

If you haven’t voted yet in the current election you have until 6p GMT.

Who has been the best poster based outside the UK on PB during year? (Vote for as many candidates as you wish)
Stars and Stripes
Edmund in Tokyo
Tim B

Mike Smithson @MikeSmithsonOGH


The Iowa caucuses vs the New Hampshire primary

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Mike Snyder (Sea Shanty Irish) looks back at the record




Dem Iowa D = 120,000 Gephardt 31% Simon 27% DUKAKIS 22% Jackson 9% Babbit 6%

NH D = 125,000 DUKAKIS 36% Gephardt 20% Simon 17% Jackson 8%

Iowa give Gephardt narrow win, but NH backlash boosts neighbor Dukakis, sets back Gephardt & Simon
Rep Iowa R = 110,000 Dole 38% Robertson 25% BUSH1 19% Kemp 11% DuPont 7%

NH R = 159,000 BUSH1 38% Dole 29% Kemp 13% DuPont 11% Robertson 9%

Hawkeyes for Dole knock GHW Bush for a loop, but NH backlash saves Bush, hurts Dole, marginalizes rest


Dem Iowa D = 30,000 Harkin 76% uncomm = 12% Tsongas 4% CLINTONB 2%

NH D = 170,333 Tsongas 33% CLINTONB 25% KerryB 11% Harkin 10%

Dems concede Iowa to Hawkeye local; NH makes Tsongas frontrunner AND saves “comback kid” Bill Clinton
Rep Iowa R = no vote

NH R = 177,970 BUSH1* 53% Buchanan 38% Tsongas 2% Nader 2%

Iowa passes, while NH primary boosts insurgent Buchanan AND further weakens incumbent Bush the Elder


Dem Iowa D = 50,000 CLINTONB* 100%

NH D = 95,000 CLINTONB* 84% Buchanan 4%

Iowa & NH Dems unite to re-elect Bill Clinton, with NH murmurings against the incumbent as per usual
Rep Iowa R = 91,000 DOLE 26% Buchanan 23% Alexander 14% Forbes 10%

NH R = 210,211 Buchanan 27% DOLE 26% Alexander 23% Forbes 12%

Establishmentarian Dole battles insurgent Buchanan to split verdicts, marginalizing Alexander & Forbes


Dem Iowa D = 61,000 GORE 63% Bradley 37%

NH D = 154,639 GORE 50% Bradley 46% McCain 2%

Iowa goes 2/1 for Clintons’ VP Gore over challenger Bradley, but NH backlash results in close split decision
Rep Iowa R = 87,666 BUSH2 41% Forbes 30% Keyes 14% Bauer 9% McCain 5%

NH R = 236,820 McCain 49% BUSH2 30% Forbes 13% Keyes 6%

Iowa makes W the frontrunner & McCain way back, but NH backlash gives boost to McC & threatens Bush2


Dem Iowa D = 124,000 KERRYJ 38% Edwards 32% Dean 18% Gephardt 11%

NH D = 219,787 KERRYJ 38% Dean 26% Clark 12% Edwards 12%

Iowa shocks by boosting Kerry & sinking Dean, NH ratifies by giving real bounce to Kerry & deat-cat to Dean
Rep Iowa R = no vote

NH R = 67,883 BUSH2* 80% KerryJ 4% Dean 3% Clark 2%

Iowa again passes, very NH low turnout on GOP side with incubent W winning but with murmurings


Dem Iowa D = 240,000 OBAMA 38% Edwards 30% ClintonH 29% Richardson 2%

NH D = 288,672 ClintonH 39% OBAMA 36% Edwards 17% Richardson 5%

Iowa makes Obama frontrunner & knocks Clinton to 3rd, but NH backlash bolsters Hillary & jolts Barack
Rep Iowa R = 120,000 Huckabee 34% Romney 25% Thompson 13% McCAIN 13% Paul 10%

NH R = 241,039 McCAIN 37% Romney 32% Huckabee 11% Giuliani 9% Paul 8%

Hawkeye surge for Huckabee trumps Romney cash, then NH backlash for McCain trumps Mitt yet again

The New Hampshire presidential primary emerged as an important milestone on the presidential campaign trail in 1952 when insurgent Democratic US Senator Estes Kefauver took to the snowy byways of the Granite State, challenging incumbent but soon-to-be lameduck President Harry Truman. The Tennessean lost the nomination, but put the New Hampshire primary on the map.

Then in 1976, in the wake of Watergate, another outsider and challenger to the Beltway establishment, Gov Jimmy Carter of Georgia, used the Iowa precinct caucuses to launch his campaign both in the Hawkeye State and in the subsequent New Hampshire primary. Carter went on to win the White House, and the linkage between the Iowa precinct caucuses closely followed by the New Hampshire presidential primary was born. In that bicentennial year of 1976, Iowa voters participating in local public meetings came to a decision that New Hampshire voters casting ballots in a statewide election went on to ratify.

HOWEVER, in the very next cycle emerged the first evidence of the opposite trend: New Hampshire backlash against Iowa. In 1980, George HW Bush narrowly beat Ronald Reagan in the Iowa caucuses. The response by New Hampshire voters was to give the Californian 50% of the GOP primary vote and the Texas Ivy Leaguer just 23%. And while Democrats in both Iowa and New Hampshire held the line together for President Carter against challenger US Sen Edward Kennedy, in 1984 the story was different. That year, the winner of the Iowa precinct caucuses was fellow midwesterner former VP Walter Mondale who was supported by the old guard party establishment, but New Hampshire voters heard the beat of a different drummer, namely Colorado US Senator and ”new” Democrat Gary Hart.

The chart gives the twin capsule histories of the Iowa precinct caucuses and New Hampshire presidential primary from 1988 through 2008. DISCUSS & DEBATE.

During that quarter-century span, Iowa has tended to establish initial standings, with New Hampshire sometime ratifying the Iowa result but more often backlashing against it, though occasionally you can see evidence of both trends at the same time.

Voter participation is variable, caucus process is less encouraging of turnout than primary, but other factors include presence of incumbent president in the race which can have tendency to send voters into the caucuses or primary of the other party.

Note that in Iowa voters may register and change party affiliation at the caucuses, and that while Republican conduct a presidential straw poll, Democrats elect delegates, and presidential results are actually calculated percentage of total Iowa national convention delegation; further note that in NH presidential primary which is divided between Democratic & Republican statewide votes for president AND vice president, some votes are always cast in the Democratic primary for Republican candidates (by registered Dems unable to vote in the GOP primary) and in GOP primary for Democratic candidates (visa versa).


MrsB becomes the PB Newcomer Poster of the Year

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Now for the international section

When voting closed at the appointed time yesterday the person with most votes in the newcomer category of the PB Poster of the Year was MrsB. It was a tightly fought contest with at different stages three contenders being in the lead. The final result was:-

MrsB 201 votes
Old_Labour 196 votes
Beverley_C 192 votes
Mick Pork 101 votes
Uniondivvie 39 votes

Congratulations to Mrs B and all who made the short-list.

The election took place under what is known as the “Approval voting system” – see article here. Under this those taking part can vote for as many candidates as they wish. The winner is the one to attract most votes.

Now we have the next section of the POTY ballot – for the top poster based outside the UK. The short-list has been drawn up by a committee consisting of Peter the Punter, Sunil and myself.

Who has been the best poster based outside the UK on PB during year? (Vote for as many candidates as you wish)
Stars and Stripes
Edmund in Tokyo
Tim B

Voting closes at 6pm on Tuesday evening.

Mike Smithson @MikeSmithsonOGH


ICM CON lead down to just one

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

Are we now over the veto bounce?

Anthony Wells at UKPollingReport signed off yesterday saying “No polls over Christmas of course,..” well on that count at least he’s wrong. The Guardian has held over its December ICM poll for its Boxing Day edition.

LAB is up two to 36% while CON is down three to 37%. The LDs move up another point from the pollster which traditionally has them in a better light than other firms.

Although the changes are all within the margin of error it shows quite a contrast with the ICM survey last weekend that had Dave’s party six points ahead.

Fieldwork took place last Tuesday and Wednesday.

The non-VI findings suggest that LAB is struggling over the issue of the economy. The paper reports:

” Asked to put their own voting intentions to one side and consider which team is better able to “manage the economy properly”, 44% of respondents plumped for Cameron and Osborne, as against just 23% who preferred Miliband and the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls. The 21-point gap in the favour of the Conservatives is almost twice as large as the 11-point margin they enjoyed on this count in October’s Guardian/ICM poll.”

Mike Smithson @MikeSmithsonOGH


Christmas Day on PB

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

And PB Xmas would not be Xmas without the Annual StJohn Crossword


1. Service commonly received (5)

4. Wheeler dealer’s last to pay money back, after a short interval (8)

8. Tory, by turning over Laurel leaf nearly hid Lib Dem victory? (7,7)

10. Politician gets lost over European integration (9)

11. Step dancer has his wings clipped (5)

12. Write new edit, circulated by newspaper (6)

14. The genie is out for the majority in England (8)

17. One working after most of tax cut (8)

18. Bridge that’s associated with Norman politician once (6)

20. Asian one left after Father Ted’s successor? (5)

22. Atmosphere quickly turns angry inside (9)

24. Outspoken woman said to transfix powerful man (8,6)

25. Last three letters are addressed by Rumsfeld (8)

26. Appropriate to vote leader out? (5)


1. Country united through this diet lacks a vitamin found in Italian food – though not every time (12)

2. City campaigned in turn (5)

3. For starters it’s bad to enter Queer Street (9)

4. Minister on edge of chaos (6)

5. Keep soldiers occupied to win again (8)

6. Stars work without effort (5)

7. David was a Europhile (9)

9. Royal power Chancellor cut in recent allocation (6,6)

13. Dramatic events as PM abandoned voting system (9)

15. City girl hugs him after brief greeting (9)

16. PM backed Deputy PM initially, protected on principle (5,3)

19. One from Saint Mark’s contemporaries (6)

21. Cool to support Murray – it’s revolutionary! (5)

23. Half of Parliament gets reformed in time (5)


How will the GOP betting look in 10 days time?

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Are you profiting from the violent swings?

For those political punters who love trading by trying to anticipate how the betting prices will change the White House race is absolutely absorbing and if you get it right very profitable.

For not only have we seen violent changes in prices the Betfair betting exchange market has been liquid – something that doesn’t happen very often with political bets.

Now, as we look forward to the start of actual voting it is going to be even more compelling. The primary season starts on January 3rd with the caucuses in Iowa which historically have been the hardest of elections to predict.

For as we see every four years in the state there can be a vast difference between what voters tell pollsters and whether they are prepared to attend a meeting on a freezing January evening.

Almost all the polls ahead of the Democratic party caucuses in January 2008 said Clinton. The survey that was out of line saying Obama was in the Des Moines Register and that’s the poll everybody is waiting for.

I closed a long Newt Gingrich position on Betfair at the start of last week but I’m still far from convinced that it’s going to be Romney.

At the moment I am biding my time and not betting.

Mike Smithson @MikeSmithsonOGH


The PB Poster of the Year Election: Part 1 The best newcomer

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

This is the first of the three categories of PB Posters of the Year.

The short-list has been drawn up by Sunil, Peter the Punter and myself and it’s been decided to have a slightly different voting system. Essentially you can vote for as many candidates as you wish. Clearly if you have one strong personal favourite then just tick against his or her name. But if you think a number of contenders are worthy of the title then put ticks by their name as well.

Our short-listing panel was looking for those who have brought a special insight or view-point which have added to our understanding of current politics.

Who has been the best newcomer to post on PB during year? (Vote for as many candidates as you wish)
Mrs B
Mick Pork

Voting will close at 9am on Christmas morning.

Mike Smithson @MikeSmithsonOGH