Archive for November, 2019


It’s Johnson’s bad luck that the floods have happened in Yorkshire home of many of his GE2019 target seats

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

So another day goes by and still the misery continues for many families in South Yorkshire who have suffered because of the flooding. These are situations which are very tricky for a PM because just about nothing he can do or say is going to resonate well.

This has also played havoc with the carefully worked out programme for the campaign itself. I don’t know what was on the Cummings PR grid for this week because it has been totally sidelined.

Given we are just a fortnight or so from the postal ballot packs going out and four weeks away from the big day the question is whether the Tories will be hit at the ballot box by the flooding.

No doubt there will be a detailed analysis on this from Prof John Curtice in his planned definitie book on GE2017.

Will this impact be confined to Yorkshire or will the TV pictures have been seen nationally on social media and have a wider effect?

A problem he has is that he is barely better than TMsy when confronted with “ordinary people”. He’s awkward, lacks empathy and doesn’t respond well to being attacked.

What is ironic, of course, is that seats like those in the Doncaster area were among the prime targets identified to Tory planners as possible gains from Labour.

Mike Smithson


Tories trading today at record highs on the Commons Seats spreadbetting markets

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

With nominations for GE2019 closing at 4pm tomorrow we are just four weeks away from polling day. Postal voting is likely to start perhaps a week and a half later depending on the local authority.

The Tory polling position is nothing like as dominant as it was at this stage in 2017. Indeed four weeks ahead of that election ICM had CON 49%, LAB 27%, Farage’s party 6%, LD 9. TMay’s team was totally dominating the narrative and LAB looked doomed.

Then, of course, came the Tory manifesto with its dementia tax plan and the whole mood of the election totally changed. But just because the narrative changed last time round does not mean it will be the same.

My view is that the final week is going to be crucial because the country could be then so much closer to Brexit actually happening. A majority for Johnson would ensure that the referendum would be honoured while if he fell short then Brexit would be in doubt. If LAB is still some way behind in the polling then the possibility of Corbyn being PM would be far less.

This is likely to matter most in those seats where Remain came out top. Will Tory-voting remain backers stick with their party? The question then is whether possible CON losses in Remainia will be more than offset by gains from LAB.

Mike Smithson


Now five of the top 6 in the Democratic nomination betting are septuagenarians – the other’s 37

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Is the party really going to choose an old’un to fight the 74 year old

We have not looked at the WH2020 nomination recently but the latest development is that Wall Street multi-billionaire, Michael Bloomberg (77), has started registering to ensure that he’s on the primary ballots in some states. On top of this there’s a lot of betting interest in Hillary Clinton (72) although she has not said that she is running.

They join septuagenarians Bernie Sanders (78), Joe Biden (76) and Elizabeth Warren (70) who are competing hard to get the nomination to fight Trump next November.

As a septuagenarian myself, I was born three weeks before Trump, I think that this is crazy. The party’s flag carrier needs to be as different from the incumbent President as possible and on top of all his other troubles Trump’s age is showing.

The Democrats seem to do best at re-taking the White House when they go for a young and less known nominee. Look back at John Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and, of course Barack Obama.

So I am not convinced that a septuagenarian will make it this time. I’m on Pete Buttigieg and my most recent bet, £8 at 770/1, was on Amy Klobuchar. The latter is still in there and is beginning to get more attention after taking effective swipes at Buttigieg.

Looking forward I now plan to be in California, the biggest state of all, for its primary on March 3rd. With Texas voting as well that day there are so many delegates at stake that we could have a clearer view of the likely outcome.

  • Betting trend chart of Betfair market from

    Mike Smithson

  • h1

    Farage looks set to lose his BBC Election Question Time slot following BP’s candidate withdrawal move

    Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

    It is being reported in the Times and other papers that Farage could lose some of his key TV debate slots following his move to pull BP candidates in Tory seats.

    Although Farage is not standing in the election and is not an MP he was allocated the same number of TV debate slots as Jo Swinson including the Question Time special when it was planned that he, Swinson, Corbyn and Johnson would be the line-up.

    Farage had “earned” his slots as a result of his party’s performance in the Euro elections in May but that looks as though it is being reviewed because there will now only be BP candidates in non-CON held seats. Clearly moving from a leader who could theoretically win the election and become PM to one where that is no longer possible changes his status.

    It could also impact on the number of party election broadcasts that BP is allocated.

    One of the reasons why the main head to head events on both ITV and the BBC are restricted to just Corbyn and Johnson is that including Swinson would have made it harder not to have Farage as well. This is now being tested in the courts by the LDs

    Meanwhile YouGov has changed its methodology so that the only option put to poll respondents will be those parties that are standing in their seats. This gives a boost to the Tories in the pollster’s latest survey for the Times.

    Mike Smithson


    What might mess up Tory strategy – Brexit is a much much bigger deal for CON voters than LAB ones

    Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

    Lord Ashcroft polls

    Why Brexit is much less of an issue for the red team

    We have covered this before on PB but it is worth looking again given the proximity of the third general election in four and a half years.

    On the day of GE2017 the CON peer and pollster, Lord Ashcroft, sought to try to establish why people had voted the way they had and carried out a large sample survey.

    A key question was asking those sampled what was the main factor in determining their votes. The outcomes for the main parties are featured in the chart above.

    As can be seen 48% of Conservative voters named Brexit as the prime influencer whereas just 8% of Labour once said the same. That is a huge difference.

    From this, I’d suggest, it is possible to deduce that Brexit is much less an issue amongst those who voted for Corbyn’s party than those who backed Theresa May’s. We don’t know whether we would get the same gap 30 months on but my guess is that this continues to be an issue that concerns the blue team much more than voters of the red one.

    On top of that of the 8% LAB voters saying Brexit was the key factor then quite a lot were like me, tactical voters.

    One thing that we have heard repeatedly since that election is that about two-thirds of Labour MPs represent constituencies that voted Leave in the referendum a year before. The significance of this is put into context by this polling.

    If LAB voters, as it appears, are much less inclined to say that this is the issue that affected their vote then the challenges facing remain LAB MPs in seats which voted Leave are that much less.

    Mike Smithson


    The Brexit divide within LAB’s GE2017 supporter base

    Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

    LAB seeing significant seepage amongst its GE2107 leavers

    But holding up better amongst remainers though the LDs a worry

    What’s going to be key is being seen as the main option for tactical votes in key battlegrounds where the Tories are on the offensive, A problem is that a party that’s seen to be hemorrhaging support would find it harder to present itself as the tactical vote choice.

    My view is that so much depends on the final week because the one thing that will certainly trigger Brexit will be a CON outright majority. Johnson’s statement that he’d like the UK to be out of the EU by Christmas almost certainly means that it is Brexit that will dominate voters’ minds in the closing stages.

    Note that the polling I’m using here is Deltapoll which has not given the don’t knows for these cross-breaks.

    Mike Smithson


    The outstanding question from yesterday: How will CON GE2017 Remainers react to the deal with Farage?

    Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

    The Farage gamble could come at a price

    One group of voters who seems to have been by-passed by current events are the 31% of GE2017 CON voters who backed Remain in the referendum. All the focus has been on leavers.

    The chart above is based on the latest Deltapoll shows their current voting intentions and as can be seen more than two third of them were still backing the party of Johnson. But that fieldwork took place before yesterday’s dramatic move.

    How are they going to perceive the deal with Farage and all that says about the approach of the leadership? On the one hand their party looks set to fare better on December 12th but could for some being seen to work with Farage be a step too far?

    This will be a polling cross-break that we’ll study closely in the next few weeks.

    Many of the CON remainers are in the strong remain voting seats which are on the LD target list and, no doubt, they are going to be reminded strongly over the next four weeks about the Farage link.

    Most of the constituencies are in Greater London or just beyond. These are the Richmonds, Wokinghams and even the Foreign Secretary’s seat in Esher. They are places where Farage’s parties have struggled in the past and where, pre-coalition, LAB was a distant third. They voted Remain by margins which suggest that perhaps half the Tory voters in these constituencies went this way.

    How GE2017 CON Remainers respond could be the key to the final result. There are almost the same number of CON remainers as LAB Leavers.

    Mike Smithson


    After an eventful day a CON overall majority now a 60% chance on Betfair

    Monday, November 11th, 2019

    But is it a bigger deal as is being made out?

    Today’s move by Farage sounds like a very important development but are we over stating it? Much of the coverage seems to be based on the widespread assumption that all the BP party vote will automatically go to the Tories.

    This is of course nonsense because a quite large slice of BP support comes from former LAB voters who would never go near the Tories.

    So the effect of Farage pulling candidate out in Conservative seats could boost Labour as well.

    BP is not a political organisation which can be compared to other parties. It has no members and Farage is leader as long as he wants. It has inherited the UKIP characteristic of being very poor in first past the post elections with a tendency to be overstated in the polls

    At GE2017 Farage’s then party chalked up 1.9% of the overall GB vote which was much smaller than most pollsters had recorded.

    I feel sorry for many of the BP candidates who put themselves forward in good faith and now have been ditched.

  • Chart of Betfair exchange prices from
  • Mike Smithson