Archive for January, 2012

h1

PB NightHawks on the day on the day of RBS bonuses

Saturday, January 28th, 2012


The big news today, of course, has been that the chairman of RBS, Sir Philip Hampton has given up a £1.4m shares bonus due next month.

This will probably end the row which has caused problems for both government and opposition.

Meanwhile it costs nothing to join tonight’s conversation in the PB NightHawks cafe.

Mike Smithson @MikeSmithsonOGH



h1

The Florida polling continues to look good for Mitt

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

But Santorum leads on “favourability”

The leading US telephone pollster that uses live interviewers, Public Policy Polling, regularly sends our snippets on how its fieldwork is going, well before the poll is closed and the numbers are released. Above is the latest on its Florida survey which will continue until Monday.

A interesting element is the high favourability numbers coming for Santorum though in this latest state race things don’t look good.

Romney is a very tight tight odds-on favourite to win Florida – currently 1/11 with Betfair.

Mike Smithson @MikeSmithsonOGH



h1

What odds a Tory landslide in 2015?

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Could Dave seal the first Tory working majority since 1987?

One market sadly missing at the moment that on which punters can predict how many seats a party will win at the next election. Before 2010, odds could be had both on the exchanges and with bookies, and punters could also buy and sell seats on the now defunct Spreadfair.

That’s a shame because there’s a great deal of uncertainty about what might happen in 2015 – or perhaps earlier – and where there is uncertainty there is opportunity.

There is considerable doubt about whether at least two of the current three main party leaders will last the course of this parliament, there is doubt about the future course of the domestic and international economy, there is doubt about the parliamentary boundaries for the next election and even of how many seats there will be. That should lead to a wide range of possible outcomes and hence, longish odds if the seat ranges offered are not too broad.

The value, as always, is in backing the bets where the odds offered exceed the true likelihood. That’s why odds of 16/1 or more for a 100+ Tory majority should be attractive. That outcome sounds unlikely – and indeed it is – but it’s probably rather less unlikely than it appears at first glance.

For one thing, the Conservatives are not all that far off it now anyway. If the boundary review goes through as currently proposed, or something like it, then the Tories will only need about fifty gains to rack up a three-figure majority.

That’s only about half the number of gains made at the 2010 election. Of course, each successive gain gets harder but there were several ‘should haves’ that were missed last time round (though that’s true of all parties), and the boundary review should lessen the effect of incumbency, helping whoever is ahead in the polls.

For another, parties often make gains the first time they go to the country after taking office. It happened in 1955 (and again in 1959) for the Conservatives, in 1966 for Labour who repeated the trick in the second 1974 election (though seven months was hardly a true parliament), and in 1983. Blair didn’t quite lead Labour to an even bigger win in 2001 but Labour still won a landslide. More recently, the SNP have done it in Scotland.

Obviously, each case is different and this time the fact that two parties are in government makes it especially so, but an underlying factor for all of these is that five years is long enough to establish competence (or not), but not long enough for an electorate to get bored of a government or – perhaps – for an opposition to refresh itself.

There’d also need to be a substantial improvement in the Tories’ polling to get anywhere near a landslide. At the moment, the polls would have Labour with most seats. At the moment, however, is mid-term and the election is not for more than three years. How they move between now and then will depend on both delivery in office and the relative ratings of the two front benches and in particular the two leaders, something many may not really focus on until far nearer the day.

Another big question hangs over the Lib Dems. If the Tories could take back many of the seats they lost to the yellow team in and since 1997, that could add several dozen to a majority in a good year. The national polls suggest that’s quite possible on a UNS, though shifting entrenched Lib Dems on the ground is often a more difficult job. Even so, retaining Labour tactical support will be a tough ask for Clegg or his successor.

None of this is to say that a Tory landslide is likely. It’s not – which is why I’d be looking for at least 16/1. The fact that it will be close to thirty years by 2015 since the Conservatives last won a majority that lasted a full parliament tells its own story. But then it was more than thirty years since Labour had done it going into 1997. At the least, a market to bet on would be nice.

David Herdson



h1

Friday night and time for the PB NightHawks to gather

Friday, January 27th, 2012


This is, of course, PB’s regular overnight open thread where all things political are discussed.

Welcome to the cafe – have a good evening.

Mike Smithson @MikeSmithsonOGH



h1

Is Salmond’s referendum question biased & unfair?

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Does the boss of ICM have a point?

Alex Salmond announced on Wednesday that his “straightforward” question for the Scottish referendum was: “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?

This has now been scrutinized by academic and polling experts who are saying that it is leading and suggest that it is designed to get a particular outcome.

According to the Telegraph the boss of ICM, Martin Boon, said the question was simple but added that his company would “refuse” to ask it as it stands.

“This is cheeky really – it suggests that ‘we all agree, don’t you?’ In short, if this were asked in the context of an opinion poll, I would expect to receive some condemnation for it being deemed as imbalanced, loaded and unfair”

It’s suggested Salmond’s wording had obviously been the subject of extensive SNP polling to register the most favourable possible result.

Also quoted is Prof John Curtice, who said: “It would have been fairer to ask ‘should Scotland become independent’ rather than ‘do you agree’. In everyday conversation people are inclined to say they agree than don’t agree.”

This one will run.

Mike Smithson @MikeSmithsonOGH



h1

Could Santorum now edge Newt out as the ABM choice?

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Was the latest debate Gingrich’s last stand?

These were the reactions of Nate Silver, the prominent US election and polling analyst, to the final TV debate in Florida ahead of next Tuesday’s primary.

There’s little doubt that the big loser was last weekend’s winner in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich. This was his last real opportunity to edge back into the Florida race and he flunked it. He appeared inadequate, mean-minded and somehow out of his depth. It’s hard now to envisage him staying the course.

It was left to the victor of Iowa, Rick Santorum, to take on the Romney band-wagon and he didn’t miss his opportunity. He landed a number of blows and he was the only one to seriously worry the ex-governor of Massachusetts.

Could he now get the polling bounce and take over the mantle as the “Anyone But Mitt” (ABM) choice? The latest polling has him in the 8-12% range so Nate’s prediction of 20% is quite a big jump.

Mike Smithson @MikeSmithsonOGH



h1

A big night for PB NightHawks

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Thursdays are generally more interesting than usual. We have Question Time on BBC1, the council by-elections as well as, tonight, the final TV debate between the GOP candidates in Florida. We also have the final YouGov daily poll of the week.

Share your thoughts here in the PB NightHawks Cafe.

Mike Smithson @MikeSmithsonOGH



h1

The Romney price gets tighter in the GOP race

Thursday, January 26th, 2012