Archive for the 'America' Category


Michigan Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, the woman who’s got under Trump’s skin, moves up in the Dem VP betting

Monday, March 30th, 2020

At 15/1 she’s worth a punt

One of the features of the coronavirus crisis is that we are hearing a lot more from some American state governors. We’ve already seen the developments relating to Andrew Cuomo of New York and another one whose role in the crisis is getting a fair degree of national coverage is Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan.

You can tell she’s being effective because her approach is causing a lot of irritation from President who who refers to her as “that woman from Michigan”. His basic complaint is that she has been less than appreciative of the help that the Federal Government has been providing for her state.

In the current political context just seven months before the presidential election it doesn’t do any Democrat any harm to be seen to be attacked from the Oval Office especially in a manner that appears unreasonable.

Over the weekend the Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post wrote this piece headed “Why Joe Biden should pick ‘that governor’ to be his running mate”.

While Whitmer was waiting for Washington to approve disaster aid for Michigan, the president attacked her during a call-in interview Thursday on Sean Hannity’s show. His complaint: She was insufficiently obsequious at what is a life-or-death moment for her constituents. Servility is a condition of employment at the White House, of course. But there is something in particular about a woman who refuses to pay him homage that seems to drive Trump around the bend. ..Trump does not like having the federal government’s failures put under that kind of spotlight. “She is a new governor, and it’s not been pleasant,” Trump told Hannity. “We’ve had a big problem with the young — a woman governor. You know who I’m talking about — from Michigan. We don’t like to see the complaints….Don’t call the woman in Michigan,” he instructed his vice president during his news conference on Friday, adding: “I want them to be appreciative.”

You can get her at about 15/1 on Betfair. I’ve had a punt at slightly longer odds.

Mike Smithson


Biden trailing badly in terms of the enthusiasm of his backers

Sunday, March 29th, 2020

These are worse numbers than Hillary was getting at WH2016

This is a good polling question and one that I attach importance to – just how enthusiastic are your backers. This, surely is something that will show when it comes to election day and how many of your backers will actually be bothered to turn out. The comparison with Trump supporters is striking.

What should worry the Democratic establishment is that when a similar question was asked of party supporters four years ago Hillary Clinton was getting a 32% “very enthusiastic” rating.

I have always been doubtful about Biden as the nominee. He’s 77 years old and his age is very apparent in his public appearances. He’s also very gaffe-prone and even though he’s in a strong position after the first round of primaries you could see either something happening on the health front or him coming under incredible pressure from senior figures in the party to stand aside.

If he does go through to become the nominee then he’s going to need a powerful figure as his VP pick and someone who could take a greater than usual role in the campaign.

Mike Smithson


Joe Biden: tough seasoned candidate or bumbling geriatric?

Saturday, March 28th, 2020

How to reconcile his stumbles with his success

I have not covered myself with glory during the 2020 US presidential election so far. To date, I have tipped, successively, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden for victory – and I’m not exactly convinced at the moment that it’ll be any of them.

To be fair, I don’t think my reasoning has been a million miles out. At the start of the year, I assumed that impeachment would leave Trump broadly unaffected and that the strong economy would ensure his re-election, aided by a relatively weak Democratic field and a structural Republican advantage in the Electoral College. There was always the possibility that the economy could falter during 2020 but on New Year’s Day, that was just a hypothetical known-unknown in the mix; on balance, it didn’t look that likely.

However, Trump’s clearly complacent, arrogant and inadequate response to the Covid-19 outbreak made me reverse that assessment. His early inactions (partial Chinese flight restrictions apart) and wishful, dismissive attitude to it convinced me that he stood a high chance of being blamed for the outbreak becoming as bad as it was likely to – not least because those early inactions were likely to foreshadow his later attitude and decisions, as they have. His comment about ‘churches packed for Easter’ still speaks of a president who doesn’t understand the gravity of the developing situation.

As was also predictable from early on, once an outbreak became established in a country, the only alternative to a near-universal domestic epidemic was a shut-down of the economy and society in affected regions – which would come with a terrible economic toll.

On the face of it, the US is now suffering an even more severe outbreak than Europe: the US has gone from 5,000 to 100,000 reported cases four days faster than the combined EU figure and with the patchy lock-downs and continuance of domestic US flights, chances are that trend may well continue. That said, the number of reported cases is not an entirely reliable metric.

The economic data, by contrast, is more reliable – and awful. Words struggle to explain how dreadful this week’s unemployment claim figures were, with 3.3 million signing on: close to FIVE TIMES the previous record. A Reuters-Ipsos poll yesterday found that 23% of the US workforce had been laid off or furloughed during the Covid-19 outbreak. Those are not numbers against which you win re-election; those are numbers Herbert Hoover would recognise.

It is true that Trump’s approval ratings have risen during the epidemic but the election is more than seven months away. That’s more than enough time for the gloss to come off and for the Democrat’s to attack his decision-making. This should very much be their election to win.

Until we get to the candidate. For a long time, I expected that to be Joe Biden. The national polls were clear through 2019 that his initial lead wasn’t just about name recognition but there was genuine positive support too. Name-recognition candidates do not survive as front-runner in the months before the primaries begin if there isn’t substance there too; Biden did.

What changed my opinion was not the Iowa result (an unrepresentative state ‘voting’ using a cumbersome and undemocratic system), so much as clips of Biden’s campaigning: he looked utterly worn out. Against a rampant Sanders, I didn’t really see a way back if that was representative of where Biden was. Question was – question is – is that representative?

And there now is the crux of the 2020 Democratic nomination campaign. The 77-year old Biden has had more than enough mental stumbles along the way to raise serious questions as to whether he’s suffering from a degenerative mental condition. It’s true that Biden has never been the most verbally sure-footed politician and as such, his slips can be to some extent discounted as Joe-being-Joe. But only to some extent.

However, against that we have to weigh the fact that he has beaten two dozen rivals, including several heavyweight opponents. He has come through eleven debates, most as front-runner, without suffering any terminal gaffe and through most of them without any meaningful damage at all. The most recent of these was a two-hour head-to-head with Sanders: you do not emerge ahead from something like that if you’re suffering from dementia.

(It should be noted, as an aside, that Biden has not yet won the nomination. Sanders remains in the race albeit 300 delegates behind and with a 20% deficit, going on current polls. However, the Covid-19 epidemic has forced so many states to move their primaries back that more delegates will now be determined in June than in April and May combined and New York may well join that flight, back-loading the contest even more. There is potentially time for Sanders to recover – but it’s a very uphill task).

So, where does this leave us? My instinct is still that Biden will win and that while he’s far from a shoo-in, he’s also stronger than a lot of people give him credit for. The fundamentals look very poor for Trump and while he’s a master at negative campaigning, he’s never had to run against the background of his own record before – and chances are that record has two very serious failures this year not yet incorporated into the polling and approval figures.

But there are two known-unknowns we have to recognise. Firstly, he’s an elderly man engaged in a demanding campaign, meeting many people in the middle of a pandemic. There are clearly risks there given the fatality rate of Covid-19 sufferers among male 70-somethings. (This of course also applies to Sanders and Trump). And while I think Biden’s reputation as ‘gaffe-prone’ is exaggerated – there was nothing during his eight years as Vice President that caused serious embarrassment – there’s always the potential for a campaign-ending howler.

At evens, Trump remains a clear lay. Biden ought therefore to be value at 5/4 and is, even if it’s a bet I’d feel uneasy about. So despite the maxim that things don’t usually happen in politics out of the ordinary as often as media and pundits would have you think, there may still be value down the list. Sanders is now out to 50/1, which I think underestimates his strength and Biden’s vulnerability. Likewise, Warren at 250/1 looks over-priced should something happen (Cuomo as flavour of the month is too risky to justify 50/1, I think).

Biden remains an odd candidate: unusually weak for someone who’s dominated the polls for most of the last year and has a commanding lead in delegates. He should still be odds-on favourite and yet there’s more than a nagging doubt at the back of the mind as to the state of his.

David Herdson


WH2020: New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, moves to 3rd favourite in the Dem nomination betting

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

With the coronavirus epidemic dominating the headlines almost right across the world a new name has appeared in the top three on the Betfair WH2020 Dem nomination market. He’s Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York which has the worst figures of any state in the US .

Everyday in the US, usually at 1115 EST, Cuomo gives his daily report and observations on the continuing crisis which threatens the lives of tens of thousands of Americans. Even though he is totally concerned with his own state millions are turning to this each day rather than Trump’s White House briefings for the latest analysis and detail.

His tough no nonsense approach contrasts sharply with the White House which has talked optimistically of things getting better after by Easter. Cuomo’s sessions also appear far better and informative than the Boris Johnson daily briefings.

One name that is almost totally absent at the moment in the US is the Dem nomination front-runner, 77 year old Joe Biden who is struggling to find something relevant to say. In media coverage terms the main opposition to the White House is seen as Cuomo.

This has inevitably led to speculation that he might be a possible for the nomination. Quite how that would come about is hard to say but if things continue as then Biden could come under pressure.

Last week I reported here that I’d had 180/1 bet on Cuomo. That is starting to look very good.

Mike Smithson


The headline of the day

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020


Biden way ahead in tonight’s four big primaries

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio look set to give him big victories

When the timetable of primaries for this year’s presidential election came out a lot of people were looking at tonight as being when the race would finally be resolved. That is no longer the case because Joe Biden effectively wrapped up the nomination at the start of the month on Super Tuesday.

The big question now is how long is Bernie Sanders gong to stay in the race and will he carry on, like he did against Hillary Clinton four years ago, fighting and in many ways undermining the Democrats in the presidential election itself.

There are many who blame Sanders and his backers for Trump’s victory giving it was by such a small margin in three key states. Surely he is not going to risk doing this again? For inevitably the continuing Sanders campaign undermines the presumptive nominee .

So far Sanders has resisted the growing calls for him to step aside and get behind part of a single effort aimed stopping Donald Trump.

There’s very little betting interest tonight because the last time I looked the odds reflect the polling these are certainties for Biden

Mike Smithson


Back in the world of political betting Biden confirms that his VP pick will be a woman

Monday, March 16th, 2020

Given that 77 year old ex-VP, Joe Biden, is increasingly looking like a certainty for the Democratic nomination the main WH2020 betting market of interest has become who he will choose as his VP nominee.

This is generally a personal choice of the nominee to be put before the party convention for approval.Because of his age, 77, there’ll be a greater interest than usual and the choice needs to add to the overall ticket. In the latest TV debate last night, Biden confirmed that he would choose a woman to share the ticket with him for the VP slot. He said:

: “If I’m elected president, my Cabinet, my administration will look like the country. And I commit that I will pick a woman to be vice president.”

My guess is that he’ll go with someone who has already established a presence for themselves by having been a contender and my money is on Kamala Harris who for a period last summer headed the betting.

As can be seen from the chart all the main option are women.

Mike Smithson


Trump’s Republicans move drop below a 50% betting chance for WH2020

Friday, March 13th, 2020
Betfair market on

This looks as though it was driven Trump’s initial reaction to the coronavirus

There’s little doubt that Donald Trump is not having a good coronavirus crisis. His initial dismissal of this this being not much more than a commons cold hardly said a lot for his judgement in the early days.

He wasn’t helped by several of his right-wing backers declaring that that this had been got up by the Democrats to wound Trump ahead of November’s election.

After a period in which Trump’s approval ratings seemed to be getting better the last few weeks have seen a reversal according to the RCP Average. There’s a historical correlation between US approval ratings and electoral success.

Another factor that has harmed him has been his decision to try to control the government information that is issued on the scale of what is happening gives the impression that he’s more concerned about his own position than the nation as a whole.

On the other WH2020 who will win in November market Trump has dropped from a 61% betting chance to a 47% one.

Mike Smithson