Archive for February, 2012


Are punters’ reading the London Mayoral race right?

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Should Ken be better than a 36% chance?

All the polling in the past couple of months has had May’s London mayoral election as what US pollsters term – “a statistical tie”.

Ken’s been up by 2 and so has Boris but the lead is toggling between the two. The latest has the Tory in the lead.

In the national polls Labour is in a vastly difference position than four years ago when their share was mostly in the 20s. Also in local council by-elections up and down the country we are seeing the red team chalk up gain after gain.

Which all doesn’t make sense of the betting. Is Ken the value bet? I got him at 14/1 before he’d even been selected so I’ve got margins to play with but the current price does seem good.



Will tomorrow wound Santorum but not confirm Mitt?

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Can a Mitt Michigan victory answer his doubters

The latest Michigan surveys from Public Policy Polling suggests that Mitt Romney is heading for a victory in his home state of Michigan. A fortnight ago the firm had Santorum 15% ahead there.

The pollster is superb for getting information out early and the latest numbers are based on fieldwork last night which only closed two or three hours ago. It also uses Twitter very effectively.

Mitt Romney’s at 39% to 37% for Santorum, 13% for Ron Paul, and 9% for Newt Gingrich.

Mitt goes into election day tomorrow with a large lead in the bank. A total 16% of Michigan voters say they’ve already cast their ballots, but Romney has a whooping 62-29 advantage over Santorum with that group.

Santorum actually leads Romney 39-34 with those who are planning to cast their votes on Tuesday, but he’d need to win election day voters by even more than that to neutralise the advantage Romney’s built up.

After a week of intense media scrutiny there’s been significant damage to Santorum’s image with GOP voters in the state. His net favourability has declined 29 points from +44 to now only +15 (54/39). Mitt’s favourability is steady at +20 (57/37).

The real challenge for Romney is that Michigan is his home state where he should do well. The question is whether the actual winning margin exceeds expectations.

My guess is that we’ll see another low turnout election and the doubts within the party about Romney’s ability to take on Obama will mount.

There’s a PPP Arizona poll due out later and the signs are that this is very good news for Romney.



Welcome to the PB NightHawks Cafe

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

This is our overnight open thread.

Mike Smithson @MikeSmithsonOGH


Should we be getting ready for a 2013 general election?

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

LD peer links Lords reform to the boundary changes

Two days ago I suggested that the coalition could collapse over the house of Lords reform programme agreed between the Tories and the Lib Dems in the 2010 coalition agreement.

My post stated that if Tory MPs rebelled then the Lib Dems could pull the plug on the boundary changes which are due to be approved by MPs in the second half of 2013.

In a discussion on the Sunday Politics Lord Oakeshott made that direct threat – see link in tweet above.

The boundary changes are critical to the Tories if they want to secure a majority. In broad terms they bring the threshold down from the current 11% lead to about 7.5%.



Will Mitt’s big speech build on his debate triumph?

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Was this like Gordon Brown’s “Elvis” moment?

On Wednesday night Mitt Romney had a big success in the effort to stop Rick Santorum in the final candidates’ TV debate of the campaign. Almost all the polling in the immediate aftermath had Mitt improving his position in relation to Rick Santorum. Nate Silver reckons that it has given him a 4% boost.

Then he went on to Detroit to make what was billed as a big speech on the economy. The venue was a football stadium with 63,000 seats.

The videos have now become a campaign issue.

Voting takes place on Tuesday.



Welcome to the Sun on Sunday from PB NightHawks

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

How’s it going to do?

The big news about the news overnight will be the launch of the Sun on Sunday which seems to have been developed at break-neck speed. Given it was less than a fortnight ago that Rupert Murdoch made his intentions clear it is really amazing that we have got to this stage so quickly.

Part of this is, of course, a reaction to the dramatic arrests at the paper earlier in the month. This is Rupert showing the world that he is still about and his empire is alive and kicking

We await the first edition with interest.

Mike Smithson @MikeSmithsonOGH


The economy: Did Tony Blair get out just in time?

Saturday, February 25th, 2012


Notice how the tide turned after his June 2007 exit?

The February issues index from Ipsos-MORI came out a couple of days ago with the firm always producing a range of historical charts so we can see trends.

MORI has been asking for 37 years in exactly the same way an unprompted question on what issues interviewees sees as the “most important facing Britain today”.

As can seen the economy moved up sharply in 2008 and has remained high. This latest month it was up 3% to 64% naming it.

Looking at the chart I find it extraordinary how little people were concerned in the first ten years of the 1997 Labour government – the Blair years.

It hovered around the 10% mark for so long and it only started to become a real concern after he stepped down in June 2007.



Will Mitt’s money majority melt away?

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Are we in for a more level playing field after Super Tuesday?

Ever since the 2012 presidential election campaign got underway, Mitt Romney has had the best-funded campaign. That fact, combined with his position as consistently one of the two top-polling candidates and his opponents real weaknesses, has always enabled him to go negative against his principle opponent at the time.

It hasn’t always worked. Caucuses tend to have different dynamics and much lower turnouts, meaning a broad but shallow appeal can lose out to a candidate with a narrower but more fervent base – and winning votes through negative tactics is only ever likely to produce a shallow appeal. That’s assuming that the tactics are employed correctly, and there’ve been a few misfires there too.

However, things may be changing. Romney still pulled in most money in January but not by much, and by nowhere near enough to cover his costs. It might not be critical. Eighteen states go to the polls between now and the middle of March, bringing the total to more than half of the fifty (though only Florida from the big ones). A decisive win on Super Tuesday would go a long way to closing down the battle but the polls suggest that he’s nowhere near that kind of result.

Next week sees primaries in Arizona and Michigan. These ought to have been pretty fertile territory for Mitt – he was brought up in Michigan, where his father was governor – yet until recently he trailed Santorum. If the latest polls are a good guide, Romney will edge out Santorum but by nothing like the comfortable margin he should.

The position in the national polls is even worse for him: Santorum retains a narrow lead. I’ve said before that national polls don’t matter greatly in a primary season: what’s key is opinion in the states voting now, not which have already voted or won’t do so for months. That’s remains true but with two big caveats. Firstly, national polls do matter as far as fundraising goes – it is far easier to get donors to contribute to what appears a viable campaign. Secondly, the quality of media coverage a candidate gets varies greatly depending on how seriously they’re taken, and polling matters there too.

All of which creates a series of problems for Mitt. Not only is his own fundraising struggling by his previous standards, there’s every prospect that Santorum (who now really does look the settled and final Not Mitt candidate) will gain a relative funding surge of his own.

With national polling tight and few winner-take-all states coming up, the race seems destined to go well into at least April. If so, Romney’s campaign can’t continue to haemorrhage cash as it has been doing. Admittedly, he’s not short of a few millions himself but it’s not a good sign when a candidate has to spent his own money.

Worse is what it says about the general election campaign. If Romney is struggling to raise cash now, and Santorum always struggled to raise funds, it places Obama in a very strong position with neither Republican candidate apparently capable of tapping a wide donor base. No doubt the GOP will rally around whoever is chosen but will it do so will sufficient dollar enthusiasm? The evidence so far suggests not.

David Herdson