Archive for February, 2020


Bernie heading for big Nevada victory and is going to be hard to stop winning the nomination

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020
Click here for latest from CNN

The only way he can be fail, surely, is if there’s an agreement on a single centrist contender

This post from @Nigelb sums it up:

Both billionaire egotists have declared there sticking around for Super Tuesday, so I think that’s it. Biden is weak enough that it would be a poor gamble for (say) Buttigieg to drop out and endorse him… and Warren on 9% just thanked Nevada for “keeping her in the race”…This race is analogous to the last Parliament – almost perfectly designed to prevent any meaningful deals, and thus leading to an outcome the majority wanted to avoid.

There is general agreement that Bernie as the nominee would make Trump’s reelection in November almost almost inevitable. He’s winning this because the moderate vote is split, Could real hard pressure be out on the three centrists and maybe Warren as well to come to such an agreement? For if Biden, Buttigieg and Klobuchar stay in then the prize surely will go to Bernie.

It is going to take the full force of Obama, Pelosi and Senate Dem leader Schumer to make that even possible but desperate times take desperate measures. Maybe Obama has the leverage?

Mike Smithson


Bernie edges to odds-on for the nomination as the Nevada caucuses get ready to start

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020
Betfair market from from

It’s another big night in the fight for he WH2010 Democratic nomination with the caucuses in Nevada. We should start getting results at about 0300 GMT.

Bernie goes into this latest with a very clear lead in the caucus polling. The latest RCP polling average is:

Sanders 32.5%

Buttigieg 16%

Biden 16%

Warren 14%

Klobuchar 9.5%

If the Sanders numbers are in line with the polling then I agree with David Herdson view in the previous thread.

Mike Smithson


Early voting and a split field mean Sanders should be clear odds-on for the Dem nomination

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

Only a health scare is likely to stop him now

Inevitably, all eyes on the race for the Democrat nomination are trained today on Nevada, which today becomes the third state to vote in the contest. Except it doesn’t.

There’s still far too much attention paid in the media to ‘election day’ itself, which is now a highly misleading concept. Early voting has transformed how elections are conducted by both the public and political parties / candidates, (both here and in the US) meaning that while election day wraps up the story and is still the most important day in the process, a huge amount has already happened.

Early voting was open in Nevada from last Saturday through to Tuesday and reports are that around 75,000 people took the opportunity to participate that way (although already there seem to be problems with unsigned – and hence invalid – forms); a figure which is only just short of the 2016 total and could well propel this year’s overall number past the record from 2008 of 120,000 or so.

If it is right that half or more of Nevada’s vote is already in the bag then that means both that the polls should be more reliable and also that the effects of Wednesday’s debate counts for a lot less. Obviously, that doesn’t matter as far as Nevada is concerned for Bloomberg, who’s not contesting it, but it does matter for Elizabeth Warren, who put up a strong showing which can’t be reflected in the votes already cast.

Unfortunately, any certainty we can build up from these early votes then dissipates with the detail. The convoluted nature of caucuses and the 15% rule could both play havoc with reallocations and with delegate awards. Sanders looks well clear but Biden, Buttigieg and Warren are polling in the mid-teens, with Steyer and Klobuchar in low double-digits. It would only take small errors in the polling or small genuine movements in opinion to change a candidate’s fortune from a wipeout to a very comfortable second place – or vice versa. Equally, Sanders could gain anything from around 40-70% of delegates depending on how many of his rivals miss the cut.

But Nevada is not the only state voting at the moment. Early voting is currently underway in most of the other Super Tuesday states and other ones beyond, ranging from tiny North Dakota (14 delegates), through to mighty Texas (228) and California (415). Already, more than 1.3m people have voted in the California primary and Wednesday’s debate will almost certainly have had more effect there and the other Super Tuesday states than in Nevada.

Indeed, I cannot stress strongly enough how front-loaded this primary season is. After a year of shadow boxing, more than half the delegates then get awarded in the space of a fortnight. Super Tuesday is only ten days away and will determine 34% of all pledged delegates but after that, another 9% will be assigned in the seven contests the week after, and then 14.5% more the week after that.

And that’s where the odd nature of this campaign field matters. Before we began, I thought that there was a strong chance that for the first time in decades, this year would see a contested convention. I still think there’s a reasonable chance of that but it’s dropping for the unusual reason that there are so many candidates left in.

Normally, Iowa and New Hampshire see of not just the also-rans but also some candidates who harboured serious ambitions for the White House. In the 2016 GOP race, twelve candidates contested Iowa – a similar number to the Democrat field this year – but half withdrew before the third state (South Carolina) and by Super Tuesday there were effectively only four serious contenders. That thinning out simply hasn’t happened this time, with the result that votes will be very split; a consequence enhanced by the scale of early voting.

That plays very much into Sanders’ hands. If there were, say, four candidates with a split of 35-25-20-20 then all of them would be likely to get some return from most states. The 15% threshold would probably still eat away at the back-markers but not severely.

By contrast, the current national split (using the RCP average) of 29-17-15-12-10-7-others means that there’s a good chance that Sanders clears the threshold nearly everywhere, while the rest struggle nearly everywhere. That could hugely boost his delegate share, way beyond what you’d expect from notionally proportionate allocations.

Furthermore, it’s not obvious that Nevada or South Carolina will clear the field much further. Biden will be hoping his firewall state in the South delivers him a win, and current polling suggests that’s still realistic; Warren will be hopeful her debate performance has re-energised her campaign; Buttigieg could be on for a second place in Nevada, while Steyer can hope for something similar in S Carolina; Bloomberg and Sanders are clearly in to stay for now. Klobuchar looks most vulnerable but even her cause is hardly hopeless.

Nevada is, of course, known for gambling and there’s a good chance the dice will fall badly for one or even two candidates who’ll fail both on the raw numbers and on expectations and might, as a result, call it quits, especially if South Carolina looks unpromising. But it’s not certain.

Either way, the likelihood now is that most if not all of the current field will be in play in the contests for three-fifths of the delegates. I don’t see any real reason other than a potential new health scare why Sanders should tail off over the next month. On the contrary: despite Warren’s strong debate performance, if she can’t translate that into votes – and the timing is unfortunate for Nevada – then she could be the one to pull out, which would likely benefit Sanders more than anyone.

Put simply, the path for anyone else to the nomination looks extremely difficult. Even if Sanders can’t reach 50% by the convention, he’d go in with such a big lead that there’s no way it could be overturned. I think the markets are underrating the importance of (and interaction between) early voting, the wide field and the delegate allocation threshold. I’d personally make Sanders comfortably odds-on, maybe even as short as 1/2. That does give value for the nomination, though it’s not very exciting. With Trump now no better than 8/13 – which is too short, even though he should be odds-on – the 7/2 available for Sanders to take the White House may be the value shot.

David Herdson


For Iowa caucus punters the wait continues

Friday, February 21st, 2020
My Iowa betting position

Tomorrow sees Nevada the second state in the WH2020 process to hold a caucus to choose a nominee to fight Mr. Trump. The big difference between caucuses and a normal primary is that with the former the party machine, not the state government handles the elections which can be more complex than simple statewide ballots.

Democratic Party officials in Nevada are determined that there should be no repetition of the Iowa mess-up where we still don’t know for sure whether 38 year old Pete Buttigieg or Bernie Sanders, who is 40 years his senior, is the winner. The latest official report from the party had Buttigieg ahead by the narrowest of margins on the delegate count but both top candidates demanded a recount.

It is therefore possible that we could get a firm result in the Nevada caucus before Iowa which was nearly a fortnight ago.

Because there has been no resolution and the UK bookies have yet to settle the Iowa market. That’s understandable. Back at WH2012 Romney was declared the on the night winner in the Republican race with a wafer thin margin and Betfair paid out. It was only a week and a half later that we got the official certified result which had Romney trailing behind Santorum and punters like me were not happy.

It is in this context that the bookies are reluctant to pay out and there’s still a lot of betting going on.

When it became clear on the night of Iowa that there was a problem I cashed in my Buttigieg bets and win whatever happens.

Mike Smithson


Memo to Sir Keir Starmer: Unless LAB can start winning MPs in Scotland again the chances of you becoming PM are slim

Friday, February 21st, 2020

Your first big electoral test looks set to be the Scottish Assembly elections next year in a part of the UK where for decades your party was totally dominant. Recovering some of the ground lost there to the SNP might be an indicator that a general election victory could be in reach.

The charts above from the Commons Library analysis of the last general election set out in stark terms how Scotland’s Westminster MP party distribution changed dramatically less than five years ago. Labour went into GE2015 defending 41 of the 59 Scottish seas and ended up, like at GE2019,with a single MP.

So from a situation where LAB getting two thirds of Scotland’s MPs was almost a forgone conclusion you start from a base north of the border at the next general election as the fourth largest party. And without that hefty block of Scottish LAB MPs what will soon be your party has to make many more gains in England and Wales.

All this changed, of course, in the aftermath of the September 2014 Scottish IndyRef. Although the vote was to remain within the UK the referendum set off a dramatic rise in the SNP which in May 2015 won all but three Scottish seats.

The overall picture is very daunting for LAB. In September 2015 when Corbyn became leader he declared that Scotland was his first priority. Assuming you become leader you need to do the same but unlike Corbyn you need to make a success of it.

Mike Smithson


Expect Warren to get the biggest boost from last night – and that could be at the expense of Sanders

Thursday, February 20th, 2020

And Buttigieg could gain from Bloomberg tailing off

One of the reasons why Sanders has soared in the polling in recent weeks has been that his main opponent on the progressive wing, Elizabeth Warren, has been falling like a lead balloon. This followed her less than convincing performances in Iowa and New Hampshire.

But there’s little doubt that she is being seen as the winner of the Las Vegas debate with her highly effective attacks on Bloomberg which set the tone for the whole debate. This has led to a post debate fundraising haul of $2.8m. If her improved position results in a better than expected outcome in Nevada on Saturday then a lot of that could be at the expense of Sanders.

We cannot now discount a Warren recovery which could impact on the whole race.

Another factor that could hurt Sanders is the revelation that he was planning to run against Obama in 2012.

Bloomberg’s terrible debate is surely going to undermine his position as the centrist front runner and he is likely going to see his poll numbers drop. Also Klobuchar, after last night, might not do as well as she hoped in Nevada. With Biden continuing to flounder Buttigieg looks set to be the beneficiary and this is how the betting markets have been moving

Mike Smithson


Bloomberg slumps sharply in the nomination betting after coming under fierce attacks in the Las Vegas debate

Thursday, February 20th, 2020

It was Bernie’s toughest night as well

As everybody was expecting the first appearance on a debate stage by Mike Bloomberg was going to see him as the main target by the other leading contenders in the race. This is how the New York Times is reporting it:

 The Democratic presidential candidates turned on one another in scorching and personal terms in a debate on Wednesday night, with two of the leading candidates, Senator Bernie Sanders and Michael R. Bloomberg, forced onto the defensive repeatedly throughout the evening. In his first appearance in a presidential debate, Mr. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, struggled from the start to address his past support for stop-and-frisk policing and the allegations he has faced over the years of crude and disrespectful behavior toward women. Time and again, Mr. Bloomberg had obvious difficulty countering criticism that could threaten him in a Democratic Party that counts women and African-Americans among its most important constituencies.

Sanders was pressured strongly on his medical history and the virulence of many of his online supporters. If Bloomberg hadn’t been there this, likely would have been the story of the night. All the other contenders with the exception of Klobuchar and Biden should feel happy with their performances.

On Saturday the Nevada caucuses taken place and next week we have yet another debate ahead of the South Carolina primary,

Mike Smithson


It is crunch time tonight for Mike Bloomberg as he faces his first WH2020 debate

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

No doubt he’ll be the target of all the contenders

Until now multi billionaire Mike Bloomberg has taken an unusual approach to his bid for the Democratic nomination. For starters he has skipped the tedious business of fundraising paying for his hugely expensive campaign himself. Secondly he has bypassed the first four primaries focusing all his efforts and money on the Super Tuesday states which vote on March 3. Also until now he has avoided the regular TV debates between the contenders and has yet to face up to the scrutiny of his fellow contenders.

His absence from the previous events has been down to the rules set by the party for participation which until now have involved fundraising thresholds. That’s now been changed by the Democratic National Committee which has made polling the only qualification requirement.

In the mean time Bloomberg has spent nearly $400m out spending all the other contenders put together and has built up a massive campaign team. This has led to him moving up in both the national and state primary polls which has been reflected in the betting. He’s currently the 26% second favourite on Betfair behind only Bernie who could soon be at evens.

One of his big vulnerabilities, which I’d expect Amy Klobuchar to exploit, are the widespread reports of his profanities and sexist comments with female staff many of whom have left with a big payoffs after signing non disclosure agreements.

Another weakness is his age. He celebrated his 78th birthday at the weekend.

What he’s got going for him is that of all the contenders he’s the one who gets most under Trump’s skin. The President knows the power of money and that in wealth terms he’s a dwarf while Bloomberg is a giant.

The two hour debate starts of 0200 GMT and should be available live on YouTube.

I wonder whether this Tweet from Bloomberg’s campaign chief alludes to an explosive revelation about Bernie in the debate

Mike Smithson