Archive for April, 2007


Is Labour a certainty in Wales?

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

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    Could there be a shock west of Offa’s Dyke as well?

While all the focus for the May 3rd elections has been on the possibility of an SNP win in Scotland is there a possibility that Labour’s position might not be as secure in Wales as the betting and the limited number of polls have suggested?

Certainly, unlike Scotland, the battle for the Welsh Assembly has failed to attract the interest of punters, as the above Betfair prices show, with barely £2,000 having been traded since the betting exchange opened its market three months ago.

The real problem is that there has been very little polling data about and what there is has showed Labour to be holding up remarkably well. A new survey is expected in the next couple of days which might give us a clearer idea.

Betting interest has probably been dampened by the one major voting intention poll that showed that Labour was only down 2% in the top-up list section on what it achieved in the totally different political environment of 2003 when the party was enjoying a 42% share in the national opinion polls.

    Polling in Wales has a history of inaccuracy and I simply do not believe that the Labour vote in the Principality is immune from the massive decline that has taken place nationally.

The issue, of course, is that PC is nothing like as strong as the SNP and any major move away from Labour is likely to split three ways benefiting the Tories, the Lib Dems and PC. The result, given the electoral system under which this election is taking place, is that a diminished Labour will still probably end up with most seats – which is what the betting market is about.

I never let a UK election go by without putting some money on and I have risked a tenner betting against Labour. This seemed a much more interesting bet than putting the same sum on the party to win a maximum of 50 pence.

Mike Smithson


Should I take the profit on my free Sego bet?

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

sego sunday times.JPGLast Thursday I suggested that a good French election bet was to buy Royal on the Spreadfair 10-25 spread market. This gives 10 points to the runner-up and 25 points to the ultimate winner.

I bought at the 10 level taking what proved to be the right gamble that she would make the second round. This means that the bet cannot be a loser. If Sego loses I break even. If Sego wins I make 15 times my stake level as profit.

The question I now face is whether to close the bet down at the current 13 level making a sure profit now of 3 times my stake or do I hang in to a week on Sunday and hope to get the full amount.

    Which way will the polls go? Does Sego still have a chance?

My knowledge of French polling is limited and certainly at the 49-51 splits there must be a chance.

There’s also the gender issue. Will France vote for a woman? In other countries when faced with the prospect of a female leader for the first time voters have tended to back the woman.

My instinct is to stay with the bet but to keep watching it closely.

Mike Smithson


Will Labour pay a price if there is no contest?

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

    The Guardian steps up the rhetoric against a Brown coronation?

The feature of its ICM poll that the Guardian focuses on this morning is the hugely negative response to questions about whether Gordon Brown should take over from Tony Blair unopposed.

Under the heading “When in doubt, trust the voters” the paper’s main leader notes “Many Labour people have persuaded themselves that a leadership contest to succeed Tony Blair would not be, in that dreadful word so beloved of party loyalists, helpful.”

The leader argues, Our ICM poll today exposes the trap into which Labour risks falling as a result of such understandable but misguided views. When ICM asks about the way Mr Blair’s successor should be chosen, the response is conclusive. Fully 78% of all voters answer that Labour should have a contest, against only 16% who think they should rally around the chancellor and elect him unopposed, as Labour orthodoxy increasingly favours. Most striking of all is the finding, by a three to one margin, that Labour’s own supporters think there should be a contest too. Labour leaders, in other words, are out of touch with the mood of the public and of their own voters…Labour MPs and activists are betting the house on a strategy of electing Mr Brown unopposed.

With all the recent focus on whether or not Miliband was going to put his hat into the ring there has been hardly any discussion of what voters will think if this is how the country’s next prime minister is chosen.

One key factor – a contest would have blocked Cameron and the Tories generally out of the news for nearly two months and whenever this has happened the opposition party’s ratings have slumped.

    A reason why the Tories are down substantially at the moment is that it has been hard for them to get a look in because of the focus on Labour. Oppositions need constant publicity.

As it is Labour has made itself a sitting target for the Tories especially as Gordon looks set to wait in the wings for seven weeks as the only candidate while process in gone through.

Latest Labour leadership betting has seen the Brown price tighten to 0.13/1.

Mike Smithson


Is Gord making ground on the Bullingdon mob?

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

    Big boost for Lib Dems in latest ICM poll

The ICM April survey for the Guardian tomorrow is just out and the headline figures show a reduction in the Tory lead and a three point increase in the Lib Dem share. The totals with changes on last month are: CON 37%(-4): LAB 30% (-1): LD 21% (+3). Of the minor parties both UKIP and the Greens are on 2%.

There was also a drop in the Tory lead when voters were asked the “named leader” question – “who would you vote for if it was Cameron’s Tories against Brown’s Labour and Ming’s LDs?”. These are the shares compared with last month – CON 40% (-3): LAB 28% (nc) : LD 20% (+2).

The survey took place at the weekend after a bad week for the Tories when there was a series of poor Commons performances and the Greg Dyke issue.

The big winners in the polls are the Lib Dems who have seen a big increase in their vote share in the two surveys that have come out today. CR had good numbers for Ming’s party this morning.

UPDATE: Other points from the poll:-

  • 78% of those asked including most Labour supporters want a contest when Tony steps down.
  • Brown leads 40% to 39% as the man voters think “would be most likely to take the right decisions when the going got tough.” In September Cameron trailed by 7%.
  • By 43%-37% those in the survey thought “Cameron had the most potential as PM”.
  • Mike Smithson


    IG call time on BrandIndex betting

    Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

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    Have PBers been too good for them?

    IG Index told me this morning that they were closing their BrandIndex spread market on the changing popularity of politicians which has been operation since January. Punters sought to guess whether a selection of politicians would go up or down and “buy” or “sell” accordingly.

    The ratings were based on YouGov’s daily BrandIndex surveys of thousands of members of its pollution panel.

    Each week for the site a little group led by Peter the Punter sought to work out what the best bets were and those who have followed the recommendations have turned a nice little profit. Thanks guys for all your work.

    The problem from IG’s point of view was that most of the traffic was generated by this site. Efforts to get a national newspaper involved by publishing the ratings every week were not successful.

    The market also required close management by the bookmaker because, unlike a betting exchange, the firm set the odds which needed constant monitoring.

    Let’s hope that this venture resurfaces in some form because it was fun and for some quite profitable.

    Mike Smithson


    CR Poll – Labour down to 1983 levels

    Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

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      New poll suggests the Tories could get a majority of 6 seats

    The April poll by Communicate Research for the Independent this morning has some bleak news for Labour as it prepares for next week’s elections and the coming leadership change. For the survey reports the following with changes on last month – CON 36%(+1): LAB 27%(-4): LD 22%(+2).

    The detailed data, which helpfully is published this morning as well (other pollsters please note), reports shares for the minor parties of SNP 4%: GRN 3%: BNP 2%: UKIP 1%: PC 1%.

    A real worry for Tories, surely, is that in spite of the Labour collapse their party is not appearing as a big beneficiary although Martin Baxter’s Electoral Calculus suggests that these figures would give the party a majority.

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    UKIP, the hope of those on the right of the party opposed to David Cameron, records another miserly score. The Lib Dems must be pleased with the 22% showing as they approach next week’s election.

    According to Anthony Wells of UK Polling Report the firm is now following the practice of the other telephone pollsters, Populus and ICM, and has adopted past vote weighting. This means that comparisons with pre-March CR surveys when the firm was recording the best Labour figures should be avoided.

    For Labour the only consolation is that when you are down as low as 27% there is really only one direction you can go and the scope for a Brown bounce is even larger.

    The April ICM poll which was expected in the Guardian this morning seems to have been held over. It will be interesting to see if it shows the same trends.

    Mike Smithson


    The French Election competition results

    Monday, April 23rd, 2007

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      Mister Chip cruises home in 1st Round Competition

    Following the drama of the first round of the French Presidential election, the results of the competition on can now be confirmed. Strictly speaking the contest will await ratification of the election results by the Constitutional Council, but the Interior Ministry figures would have to be very inaccurate to change the outcome of the competition, and this is extremely unlikely to be the case.

    Given the first round results of Sarkzoy 31.2%, Royal 25.9, Bayrou 18.6 and Le Pen 10.4, with Sarkozy’s 49.74% in New Caledonia the highest vote in any département, the competition scores are as show above.

    A full listing of the results is available France 2007 1st Round

    Comparing the results to the average predictions, Sarkozy was underestimated by 4.2%, Royal underestimated by 2.4%, Bayrou was underestimated by 0.6%, while Le Pen was overestimated by 7.5%. The tie-breaker was on average overestimated by 14.1%, although it was not needed to split any players until 14th place.

    Paul Maggs “Double Carpet”


    Sarkozy ahead in the second round polls

    Monday, April 23rd, 2007

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      It’s a two thread morning on PBC

    With such a lot of developments affecting political betting markets going on both in the UK and across the Channel there are two threads this morning. Gordon Brown is on the previous one.

    The above table, adapted from Wikipedia, shows the results of four telephone surveys that were taken last night after the first round results were known.

    Interestingly the two pollsters that most under-estimated Royal ahead of yesterday’s election are showing the lowest shares, now, for the Socialist candidate. In its final poll before yesterday Ipsos recorded a 23.5 share for Royal against the 26% that she looks like finishing on. Ifop’s final Royal share was 22.5%.

    However with all four firms putting Sarkozy ahead it’s hard to predict anything other than a victory for the centre-right candidate in the run-off – but it might be quite close.

    Mike Smithson