Archive for the 'Donald Trump' Category


The multi-billionaire who has ignored the first primary states now second place in the betting

Monday, February 10th, 2020

More and more money goes on 77 year old Bloomberg

On the eve of the first full primary, New Hampshire, the person who’ll become the stop Bernie contender has yet to emerge which is one reason why Sanders looks set to follow his tie in Iowa with a victory in New Hampshire.

Bloomberg, one of the richest people in the world, is determined to do what he can to stop Trump and is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the way. How this will play amongst voters we’ll have to wait to see but it sure has got under the skin of the President.

I’m on Bloomberg and 9/1. This is his latest ad which is going out in many of the states that will be holding their primaries on March 3rd or “Super Tuesday” as it is widely known.

Mike Smithson


Public standards mean nothing if the public won’t own them

Saturday, February 8th, 2020

Trump’s failed impeachment is a reflection of the nation’s civil standards

Why is Mike Pence not now the President of the United States? The immediate answer is, of course, that there weren’t 67 members of the Senate willing to vote to convict him of the charges brought by the House. But to get to the deeper answers we have to ask: why not?

It was not for lack of evidence – though of course the Republican senators went out of their way to ensure there was as little evidence brought as possible. Trump provided more than enough evidence out of his own mouth to justify the obstruction charge. Nor is it that it is innately impossible to persuade senators to vote against their own president. Leaving Romney aside in this trial, the impeachment process against Nixon was far less partisan. The question “what did the president know and when did he know it?” was asked by a Republican (it didn’t do him any harm: three years later he was Senate Minority Leader); by the time Nixon resigned, around two-thirds of his own senators were against him.

So why did Republican senators line up so emphatically behind Trump? Perhaps it’s best to look at the exception: why did Romney break ranks?

There might be many answers to that, the first of which is that we should take him at the words of his very powerful speech[1] when he announced that he would vote to convict, and that as a very religious man he judged his oath before God to be so binding as to demand of him whatever sacrifice it might take to deliver justice. Cynics in less religious countries should not dismiss such sentiments as hokey.

That said, if we are to let play our cynical side, we might also note that Romney has five years to run on his term, having won his primary by 71-29 and the general election by 63-31 last year; that he’s a multimillionaire septuagenarian and that even if the issue does defeat him in 2024 – which is of itself unlikely – he won’t be left wanting. Put simply, there is little that Trump can do to threaten him. This is not true of many other Republicans.

But why not? After all, if Trump had been convicted and barred from future office then he couldn’t have used the powers of his office, now or in the future, against them – so what were they scared of in the light of Trump’s evident wrongdoing?

The simple answer is “the public”. Far from disapproving, Trump’s ratings have improved markedly in recent weeks, even before the bounce in the last few days, which have left him around net zero – by far his best ratings since his earliest days. If the public is not willing to condemn his behaviour, and may well be set to reward it with a second term, why should the public’s representatives act any differently?

Trump’s comments – that impeachment “should never happen to another president” and undermined the election – is the voice of an elected dictatorship: keep the people onside with bread and circuses and you can do whatever you want.

In democracies, we cannot rely on elected politicians or impartial bodies to hold those in power to a decent standard if the voters themselves are not willing to do the same. Ultimately, ownership of those standards must lie not in legislation or courts or parliaments or commissions but with the people. Indeed, it can only lie there.

Trump’s power lies in the fact that he believes he’ll be re-elected, many others believe he could be re-elected, and that whether or not he is re-elected, they also believe that he has sufficiently strong backing among Republican voters. And he does: the latest Gallup survey, for example, gives him a net +89 rating among Republicans and a net -13 among independents. He could therefore no doubt make merry hell for any senator voting against him who faces a primary challenge this year.

Is there a way out? I don’t honestly know. I certainly expect Trump to be re-elected in November. The president is looking stronger and has solid positive messages to sell on the economy, defence, trade, The Wall and strong leadership. The Democrats, by contrast, are not only in a mess but have another weak field, any of which Trump can turn his negative campaign tactics against. And if he is re-elected, that vindicates – for him certainly but also for all his many supporters – everything he’s done.

David Herdson


Trump’s impeachment has almost no impact on the WH2020 betting – he’s still an evens chance to win

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

And it might not even get to the Senate

The betdata/io chart shows the latest WH2020 betting and as can be seen Trump remains the evens favourite to secure re-election in November next year. The overnight apparently dramatic news that this is only the third time in US history that the House of Representatives has voted in this way was widely anticipated and, of course, only the Senate can remove him from office.

The upper house would require a two thirds majority and is controlled by the Republicans who are sticking firmly with their man. For Trump remains very popular with his base and GOP Senators seeking re-election do no not want to incur their wrath which could risk them not being renominated.

It might not even get as far as the Senate voting on it. Nancy Pelosi has indicated that she could defer forwarding it until such time as she’s satisfied with the Senate’s procedures for handling what is a judicial process. So Trump could remain the impeached President without the satisfaction of a Senate vote in his favour.

There are many battles ahead.

Mike Smithson


Mitch McConnell’s failure to back Trump on Syria should be worrying for the White House

Sunday, October 20th, 2019

The total focus on Brexit over the past few days has taken the attention away from United States politics where the ongoing saga in relation to Donald Trump is becoming even more perilous for the 73 year old.

There’ve been two big developments over the weekend and I suggest that something might possibly be happening that might not be good for the incumbent. Firstly there is the Washington Post article by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, above, in which he is very critical of  the situation in Syria that Trump himself seems to be personally responsible for.

Although Trump is not mentioned in the McConnell piece there is little doubt that he is the target and that should be concerning for it is McConnell who would be the one who could end Trump’s tenure.

While the Democratic party controlled House of Representatives is advancing forward on its impeachment move Trump is secure in his position as long as two-thirds of the Senate does not back any move for him to stand aside. Republicans continue to hold the Upper House in Congress and the key figure is Republican Senate Majority leader, McConnell, For him to be publicly raising his concern about the president’s strategy should be worrying.

The other development has been quite extraordinary and suggests that maybe Trump has started to realise the limits of what he can do. The G7 is meeting in the US next year and Trump’s initial plan was for them to gather at one of his resorts in Florida at a time of year when normally it is not very busy. The Trump organisation would be a major beneficiary financially.

This sparked off a huge storm and the latest news is that Trump has gone back on this which of itself is really quite remarkable. I can’t recall other occasions when there has been a turn around in his position but that has happened here. I wonder if McConnell, who is said to talk with Trump three times a day, has had a word.

If Trump were to stand down that would happen very quickly and no doubt everybody would say of course this had been coming all along. It is easy to be wise after the event.

Whatever my biggest betting position at the moment is that Trump will not be the Republican party nominee at next year’s presidential election. I laid on Betfair at 1.12 and this has moved out considerably.

Mike Smithson


Trump’s unhinged behaviour won’t invoke the 25th

Saturday, October 12th, 2019

His mental health is too difficult to assess and there are other, better routes

When Donald Trump was merely the cartoon boss on the Apprentice, he hammed up his performance with the very successful catchphrase “You’re fired” – although it turned out he really was playing himself all along.

Trump’s administration has been a revolving door of appointments amid laudatory comments, followed by resignations and sackings and associated Trumpian bad-mouthing of his former colleagues. In around three years, Trump has got through any number of underlings. While his personal political staff has had most turnover, his cabinet-level appointments have had unusual turnover: of the 15 positions (excluding VP), eight have seen at least one sacking or resignation. That compares with just two at the same point in Obama’s presidency (and neither of those was contentious).

Trump hires and fires at will; it’s part of his god complex. One question we therefore really ought to be asking is whether, if he is renominated by the Republicans for the presidency, he will stick by Mike Pence as his running mate.

Pence has, as far as we can tell, been a loyal deputy: no easy task with such an erratic boss. All the same, his personal ratings are nothing to write home about, hovering in high negative single figures. Granted, that’s a little better than Trump’s scores but not much and Pence doesn’t obviously add much to the ticket. In 2016, he was a clear signal to the Republicans’ evangelical support but Trump has a record in office now and can point to his judicial nominations – far more important than the Vice Presidency – in how he’s delivered for that support. He doesn’t really need Pence now. It is true that Trump has said that Pence will be on the ticket but then Trump says a lot of things that don’t always turn out to be good guides to the future.

There is one complication we should think about though. Trump has never been a model of consistency but his behaviour these last couple of months – now that impeachment is getting serious – has been worse than usual. His tweet simultaneously threatening to destroy Turkey’s economy while boasting of his “great and unmatched wisdom” was merely the most notable example but here’s another.

These incidents have once again raised chatter about the 25th Amendment: the means by which a US president can be removed from effective office on health grounds (note – an important betting consideration here is that the president does not lose office, only the powers of the office, which become vested in the Vice President.

The barriers to invoking Section 4 are, however, formidable. It requires the Vice President and a majority of the 15 cabinet members – all Trump appointees, obviously – to declare “that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”. The Vice President’s veto here is one of the few places within the US constitution where he has genuine independent personal power (the Senate casting vote being the only other of note). If those two conditions are met, then it also requires two-thirds majorities in both Houses of Congress for the action to stick – which is to say, a substantial amount of Republican congressmen and senators, although if a majority of the Executive and the VP are on board, chances are many in Congress would regard that as a sufficient green light.

I don’t think this is a realistic outcome unless Trump clearly has a clear, major and sustained mental breakdown – which is to say something well beyond his usual nasty, unempathetic and narcissistic state. I’d imagine that his opponents would rather see where the impeachment hearings go than let him off the hook – and of course the two-thirds provision also means that the Democrats have a blocking vote if senior Republicans tried to use the Amendment to by-pass impeachment; likewise, the prospect of a flawed and failing opponent in next year’s election must cross the more cynical Democrat minds. And if he is re-elected? Well, the 25th Amendment will still be there if necessary.

But that comes back to Pence playing ball, along with many others. Would he? Clearly he would have much to gain personally but I just don’t see it as a political move – it’s too hard and too risky if it goes wrong.

Would that change if Trump dropped him from the ticket? I don’t think so. That decision will be made (or will be made public) very late in the campaign – only three months or so before polling day. By that point, the form of the election will have been set. Besides, not only would it look like serious sour grapes from Pence but it doesn’t answer how the other necessary votes would be gained.

Assessing mental health is extremely difficult: all the more so if the subject doesn’t want to cooperate. For all the talk about removing Trump on health grounds before the election, I don’t see it as anything below a 20/1 shot, probably more – and that’s considering that he’s an obese septuagenarian. The political challenges are too hard.

David Herdson


The impeachment polling’s getting worse for Trump

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

Half of Americans now want him out

There’s been another series of anguished Tweets from the incumbent of the White House following the latest impeachment polling commissioned by the channel that used to be his greatest supporter – Fox News.

This latest survey is in line with other recent polls and there’s little doubt that voters are turning against him.

Meanwhile another great supporter from the past, Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report which acts as a hard right news aggregator, is circulating many of the negative attacks on the President over his conversations with his Ukrainian opposite number who has seen aid cut as a means of getting “dirt” on the business activities of Joe Biden’s son.

Each night we are seeing an avalanche of Tweets from the President and looking at the timings it suggests that he’s hardly managing to sleep. This isn’t doing his health any good.

Meanwhile this is totally dominating the US media with every new development getting highlighted.

Reump’s latest move has been to block all demands from the committee of the House of Representatives which is looking into the matter. Senior officials such as Trump’s ambassador to the EU have been banned from appearing before the committee. This, as many observers are pointing out, could be further grounds for impeachment. The President is not above the law.

I’m betting that he won’t be his party’s 2020 White House nominee.

What we haven’t seen yet are, apart from Mitt Romney, Republican Senators ready to come out against the President. If it gets that far it will be the Senate which decides his fate.

What seems to be happening is that those Senators who are due for reelection next year have been reluctant to go public for fear of upsetting Trump’s base. That could change.


Mike Smithson


How strong is Trump’s Senate firewall?

Sunday, September 29th, 2019

A guest slot from Fishing

Almost three years ago, a few days after Trump was elected, I wrote a thread on this site saying that

  • the Democrats would be able to find an excuse to impeach Trump if they gained control of the House in 2018
  • for that reason, 2019 would be the peak year of danger for Trump in this respect
  • but I expected that the Senate would acquit, because of its likely Republican majority following the Midterms.

Given the events of the past week, and in particular the news that the Judiciary Committee will consider recommending Articles of Impeachment to the House, I thought it might be worth looking at the last point in more detail.  In particular, what would it need for that Senate firewall to crack? Is the implied probability of 16% too high or too low?

Reaction to the Ukranian phone call has been split largely, but not entirely, along party lines.  There was no direct, overt, quid pro quo between Trump and his interlocutor, but on the other hand a reasonable person could infer an implicit deal could have been agreed.  No evidence has yet come to light that Trump obstructed justice, but the classification of the record of the phone call seems fishy. So there is some smoke, but no fire. The remainder of this thread assumes that this will continue to be the case.

The precedent: The Senate must vote to convict (and then remove from office – the only possible penalty under the Constitution) a President by a two-thirds majority after a trial in which the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides.  Three Presidents have faced impeachment:  Andrew Johnson (who was a Democrat, though he had been Lincoln’s Vice-President),  Richard Nixon,  and Bill Clinton

Each faced a Senate controlled by the opposing parties, though in the last two cases, votes from the President’s party were required.  Johnson and Bill Clinton managed to avoid removal from office, though there is little doubt that Nixon would have been removed, had he not resigned.

Composition of the Senate  Trump faces a friendly, though not entirely safe, Senate.  Republicans hold 53 seats. To get to the two-thirds supermajority needed to replace Trump with Vice-President Pence – 67 Senators – 20 Republicans must join the 47 Democrats if the latter are united.  The conventional wisdom is that there is little realistic prospect that he will be removed from office unless the investigation finds something truly extraordinary.  

How can we judge if this is right?  How likely is it that a significant number of the Republican Senators seeking reelection in 2020 will cross party lines and vote to convict Trump, without an absolutely ironclad case of a very serious crime?  In the United States, Senators are much less subject party discipline than MPs are over here. Conjecturing how they will vote is much more art than science. I should say there are three factors we can look at: whether the Senator is a “Never Trump”-er or an “Always Trump” -er or something in between; whether the Senator is up for reelection this year in which case public opinion may influence them more; and whether the Senator has commented on the allegations yet or not.

The class of 2014  If public opinion starts to tip, the strange, staggered electoral system whereby one-third of Senators face reelection every two years could start to favour impeaching Trump.  In 2018, Democrats held 25 of the seats up for reelection (including two Independents who caucused with them) and Republicans held eight. This meant that there was no realistic prospect of the Republicans losing their majority.  However, in 2020, it is the Republicans’ turn: 23 of their Senate seats are to be contested, compared to 12 Democrats. It is notable that, of the five Republicans who crossed party lines to vote to acquit Clinton of perjury in 1999, three (Chafee, Jeffords and Snowe) were facing reelection in 2000 (and one of the two others, Arlen Specter, subsequently defected to the Democrats).  They were more vulnerable to pressure from the public, who were mostly against removing the President from office. If all 23 of the Republican incumbents start to feel pressure from their voters or donors, Trump’s firewall will look a lot less secure.  

However, of the 23 up for reelection:


  • 15 are safe Republican seats, so incumbents are much less likely to feel pressure to impeach from 2020 voters.  Only Graham (South Carolina), Sasse (Nebraska), Daines (Montana) and maybe Cotton (Arkansas) have much of a record of voting against Trump, but all would have to worry about retaining the loyalty of their base and party in this and future elections if they voted the wrong way.  
  • of the remaining eight, two (Isaakson (Georgia) and Roberts (Kansas)) are retiring, so do not need to fear the voters at all.  Roberts is very pro-Trump, Isaakson slightly less so, but still mainstream Republican. Perdue (Georgia) and Ernst (Iowa), are Trump loyalists. McSally (Arizona) and Tillis (North Carolina) are broadly loyal to Trump and have perhaps become more so since facing conserative primary challengers.  Only Gardner (Colorado) and Collins (Maine) seem to me likely to back a serious impeachment challenge – indeed Collins has voted more against Trump’s positions than in their favour in this Congress!


So I think Democrats would be doing amazingly well if five Republican Senators from the 2014 class voted to convict Trump – indeed I would be surprised if more than a couple did so.

The classes of 2016 and 2018 What about the other Republicans in the Senate?  23 of the 30 can be considered Trump loyalists, at least if we judge by the votes they have cast.  It would need an earthquake for them to vote to convict him. Of the seven more independent GOP Senators, three – Murkowski (Alaska), Daines (Montana), Romney (Utah) – have expressed serious concern about the Ukranian phone call, while three (Paul (Kentucky), Hawley (Missouri) and Lee (Utah) have defended Trump.  One (Moran (Kansas)) has yet to comment.

At most three or four of the Republican Senators may switch sides.

Conclusion A Judiciary Committee investigation is an unpredictable tool, but Trump’s firewall should hold.  From what we know at the moment, I cannot see Democrats getting the 20 Republicans they need to convict and remove Trump from office.  Pressure from voters may cause those facing reelection this year to waver more than other Senators, but I doubt it will be enough. The current odds of 16% therefore look, if anything, too high.  President Pence will have to wait.




With Trump in trouble a look at the best betting markets

Thursday, September 26th, 2019

While we have been mostly focused on the high octane politics currently in the UK there’ve been big developments in the US which raise questions over whether Donald Trump will win a second term in November 2020.

Earlier in the week the Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi started the impeachment process in the House of Representatives. As well as everything else what is driving this is what the President said to the PM of Ukraine in an effort to get what he saw as dirt, on Joe Biden – a possible Democratic opponent that he could be facing next year.

Biden’s son had been working in the Ukraine and the suggestion is that Trump sought to link the supply of aid to the country in exchange for information that could hurt Biden. This is getting into very dodgy territory and the transcripts of phone conversations are certainly not helpful to the current incumbent of the White House.

There are several betting markets two of which are in the charts above of movements on the Betfair exchange. The one I’ve gone for is to lay, betting against, Trump getting the 2020 nomination. This market will be settled on the candidate voted to be the Republican Party nominee as a result of the 2020 Republican National Convention which is eleven months off.

I think that this is a better bet and at similar odds to him leaving before the end of his first term.

Mike Smithson